Now that summer break has come careening to a speedy halt and my mother’s heart is a mixed drink of one part elation and three parts homework hell, I finally have a moment to reflect on the sand covered memories collected from the summer. We fared pretty well, (insert slow claps and high fives.) Especially considering my teacher’s salary also comes to a hasty halt during the summer months. Despite it all, we had day trips and play dates and amusement parks, and even a grand finale in the form of a family trip to Hawaii. The biggest accomplishment of all, however, was surviving a plane ride with the kids. It’s a monumental feat that will test your marriage and prove exactly what your “for better or worse” is truly made of. Below is a pop quiz accompanied with answers to see if your union can truly withstand this crucial test. It won’t be easy, but if you let it, a plane ride with your adorable spawns can actually strengthen your marital bond.
When riding on a plane with a 15 month old do you:
A) Apologize to the other passengers ahead of time because, lets face it, they are trapped with you on this hellish journey
B) Try to watch a movie. This really could be your only chance for another two years
C) Collect all the cartons of milk from the flight attendant before you even strap in
D) All of the Above
The correct answer is all of the above. Of course if you lock eyes with a fellow passenger, or bump them with your carry on filled with child friendly snacks, you can offer up the “I’m sorry in advance half smile half shoulder shrug.” This acknowledgement does not mean you will not watch a movie. You will watch that movie, in between diaper duty and baby rocking and a game of “Tag you’re it” where you pass the baby back and forth, which only seems to surround sound the bass of his tears. You should still watch that movie and you will fall even deeper in love when your husband, or wife, whoever is the momentary martyr, turns up the volume on your headphones so you can pretend you are not related to your very own family.
When riding on a plane with a 7 year old do you:
A) Give said 7-year old every electronic device of their choosing
B) Sit them next to their oldest sibling and task that sibling / future CEO with the responsibility of watching the kid
C) Stick a sucker in their mouth every time they loudly call your name because their ears are all clogged from the altitude.
D) All of the Above
Again the answer is all of the above. Ignore the blogs that caution against parentifying older children and remind yourself that teaching siblings to care for one another is character building and foster’s leadership skills. When you see the elder sibling helping his little brother adjust his seatbelt, you and your spouse will share a momentary “job well done” glance. Although brief, it is much deserved. Most of your parenting career is spent being told all of the things you’re doing wrong. In this case, you’ve done something right. Hold on to that glance. Hold on for one more day. Break out into a Wilson Phillips rendition of “Hold On” if you have to, because you are two hours away from landing and you’re about to experience your third poopy diaper in a six-hour trip. There will be a part of you that wants to point the finger; after all, it was your spouse who gave the baby an extra helping of veggie stuffed raviolis for dinner. But you tuck that pointer finger deep in your diaper bag and you offer, for the third time, to brave the aisle, the bathroom and the turbulence. Remember, you got to watch that movie and it was even better than the critics rated it. Moreover, when you see your spouse finally getting some shuteye with smashed banana all over their shirt, you’ll be reminded you’re in this thing together and if you let them, these kids have the collective potential to take you out!
When riding on a plane with your kids do you:
A) Fight with your spouse about how you both ended up with all these kids anyway
B) Cry as loud as they do in an effort to show them their crazy can never outmatch your crazy
C) Sit back and enjoy the ride
D) All of the above
While answers A) and B) may provide a transitory feeling of emotional release, the answer in this case is C). Sit back and enjoy the ride. Children, unless experiencing an unfortunate case of colic, will likely not cry the entire flight. Take off and landing are typically the hardest and the time in between is a great opportunity to keep it all in perspective. A plane ride with the kids will test your communication skills, reinforce the teamwork of your marriage, help you make major life decisions (maybe it is time for that vasectomy) and when that pilot ushers you into your final destination you will have more good news to report than the time and the warm weather. You will file out last because one kid dropped their sippy cup and the other kid wants more pretzels, but you are definitely no last place contender. You are exiting with the knowledge that this flight was made better because of the spouse sitting next to you. Your journey of life is made better because of them too. And now that you’ve had a plane ride to help you recall this valuable lesson, make your next trip a couple’s trip and one without your milk guzzling, sucker sucking kids!