You know the face you make when you’ve just sat down in your seat on the plane and a mother with a screeching baby enters the cabin? Well, during this last week I was on the receiving end of those faces. William and I had taken four flights in seven days and I think I’ve finally got the traveling-with-a-terror-thing down.
William boarded his first Mango flight when he was just five months old. He was actually quite calm, except for the occasional startle when the pilot suddenly decided to update us on how high we were really flying. He fell asleep in my arms and woke up as we landed. Fast forward a few months and it was a totally different story.
He’s been struggling with a snotty nose since he started cutting molars, so I was constantly debating whether or not I should wipe his nose on the flight, risking a total baby-meltdown or whether to let it go and hoping no one would think me an unfit mother. On the first flight, he smiled and laughed as we sat in our shared chair next to the aisle. I fed him Flings and gave up my chicken wrap to keep him happy. Food kept him occupied for a full twenty minutes and then he wanted to get off my lap. It was a constant struggle to keep him happy and entertained without letting him wonder off. He eventually found my ear phones and chewed on the cable, much to everyone’s disgust around to me. But I’ll tell you the same thing I told them: I’d rather have him chew up ten earphones than have him crying his eyes out the entire flight. The passengers with kids nodded in sympathy while the rest of my fellow flyers pretended not to notice us. I found an empty row on the plane and asked the flight attendant if I could breastfeed him there under my Noola cocoon. I could hear the man next to me breath a dramatic sigh of relief as I gathered my baby and half eaten Flings to leave.
Our second flight was only 50 minutes and he had had a nap while we waited to board. He waved at everyone on the flight and made small talk with the baby in the row behind us. I tried showing him the clouds outside the window, but he found eating the in-flight magazine much more amusing.
When we arrived, I struggled with pushing a pram and my luggage through the airport, but I received some help from a friendly fellow parent.
Returning home on our third flight, William knew exactly what to expect when he saw the airplane and so did I. I made sure that he had a nap before we got to the airport and asked to sit in an empty row if possible. I brought snacks and earphones to chew on. I tried being friendly to other passengers, hoping that they would forgive us if William decided to cry again. I didn’t need to feed him during the flight and I somehow managed to entertain him by singing songs (very softly) and playing games with him. We landed safely and some of the other passengers were surprised to see a baby as we got off the plane and many of them commended William for being a ‘good flyer’. I on the other hand, was a nervous wreck and stressed for the entire duration of the flight. Before boarding our last flight, we met up with Jacques and he and William sat in business class in the front of the plane. I sat next to the window, occasionally hearing a baby cry, but pretended not to notice as I read the in-flight magazine.