My two overarching fears in traveling with Miles were screamsicle relapse and explosive poop mid-air. I did a lot to alleviate my other anxieties (rented a carseat, spent the weekend cobbling together replacement straps for the Ergo when someone in my family lost the chest strap hoisting MW up the stairs in the Cathedral of Learning, etc.), but knew I couldn't control the things that came out of my son. As it turns out, these things were the least of my worries! What I should have been leery of was "free" parenting advice! (And also morons)
My first bit of free parenting advice happened when we went through security. I had MW in the carrier, declared his liquid medication, got through the metal detector with ease. When it came time to reinsert him in the carrier and gather up all my belongings (they even made me take off Miles' shoes!!!), I suddenly lost my ability to function. I just didn't have enough arms to buckle the baby in the carrier and grab things off that damn conveyor fast enough.
I got my first parenting tip of the day from a business traveler who shoved me with her hands: "Move faster! You're holding up the line."
I felt a fiery, raging beast well up inside me. The only other time I felt such anger was when an opposing rugger dangerously cheated in a scrum once and I called her an Effing C right there in the middle of the field. This time, I screamed at the top of my voice, "STOP SHOVING ME! DO NOT SHOVE ME!" It was my first use of a Mom Voice and I found it to be effective in getting people away from me. I earned a huge bubble of space, concerned looks from the TSA people (though no assistance from these same persons), and finally got everything strapped back on.
We just went on our merry way, boarded the plane, and happily discovered it to be nearly empty! Hurrah! A whole row of seats to ourselves! Until a moron got on the plane.
I was sitting by the window and had started nursing Miles in anticipation of takeoff. The moron sat in my row--not in the aisle seat, but right there in the middle. Pressed up against my person. In a nearly empty airplane. It was so unbelievably strange. After takeoff, she looked around and asked me, "Isn't this B2?"
I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. She showed me her boarding pass stub and said, "My seat. Aren't I in B2?"
Let me pause to mention that MW and I flew Southwest. Every person in the universe knows that Southwest doesn't have assigned seats. And if you don't know that, by the time you get on the airplane you should because they say it over and over and over again: There are no assigned seats on our planes! They are all open. Open seating!
I reiterated this to the moron, who just nodded. AND THEN DID NOT MOVE. She sat there, pressed up against me, the whole 2 hour flight to Chicago. Also? She gave me odd looks when MW kicked her as he nursed.
Apart from this moron, the flight was amazing because not only did my baby not cry, he giggled and laughed the whole time. What a flirty, happy kid! I entered the long leg of the trip feeling strongly positive.
We had another nearly empty flight, but this time a little grandma-looking woman had the aisle seat while we took the window. At first, I felt like this grandma was a great seatmate, but each moment I spend thinking about the flight brings new little timebomb memories of truly shocking things that she said during transit. She had all kinds of advice to give out, such as:
"You need to get him on a schedule so he doesn't eat so frequently."
"He only sleeps a few minutes at a time!! He shouldn't have woken up from his nap yet. You need to get him sleeping longer!" (My immediate reaction to this statement was the thought, "Oh! Of course! That's what has been wrong with my life. We just all need to sleep for longer increments. I should have thought of that myself but didn't.")
"I didn't know his knees were so fat until you took his pants off." (This is not really advice, but is also really not nice)
"Just change his diaper right here on the seat. Nobody cares." (This was only bad advice because he had pooped a mighty poop and it sort of got all over the seat. Note to future travelers: your airplane seat might have baby poop remnants on it and you should wipe it off before you sit)
And, my favorite, "You change his diaper too often. He sure does pee a lot."
Now, this woman did hold Miles so I could eat my sandwich, so the flight was not a total bust. Also, the babe was a dreamboat the whole time, so I chalk it up as a victory.
As I mentally prepare for my flight home I realize I am an experienced enough mother to handle a baby on an airplane. I won't tempt fate and predict that he'll repeat his awesome travel debut, but even if he screams I feel like I'll just handle the way I always handle it if he screams. What I doubt is my ability to avoid arrest when reacting to people handing out great tips about baby-raising.
A very wise mother once told me that I am not bitchy enough when it comes to Miles and people touching him or otherwise affronting his aura. I suspect that is rapidly changing. Go ahead and give me a little shove or some judgment in the airport on Saturday and try out my new armor!