Friday, May 13, 2011

Flying Solo?

Since our daughter was born, we have been doing a lot of flying. She has travelled to seven countries in her short little life of almost nineteen months. We have puddle jumped half way around this world and back again several times. I think this is the reason I must dye my hair every four weeks. Flying, although amazing, takes on a whole new meaning with a wee one in toe.

At first, flying with an infant was a breeze. She ate, she slept, she smiled at passers-by, she pooped, she ate some more, then she would sleep more too. Never a cry out of her most times.
On our flight over to Qatar for the first time, the flight attendants kept saying how sweet she was, and before we deboarded the plane in Doha, the pilot asked to see her & we got to take pictures of E sitting in his lap in the cock pit. It made our move here that much easier... she must have sensed her mama was nervous and decided to be on her best behavior.
It seemed after we hit the big Numero Uno, our flight experiences shifted. E no longer wanted to sit in my lap and peek at the people sitting behind us through the crack in our seats. She wasn't content to snuggle in with her mama and play with a toy quietly. Nope. She wanted to run free. She longed to feel the recirculated cabin air on her face as she tried to scoot down the aisle at her most wobbly top speed. She just needed to touch every button within eyesight - tv remote control, on-flight phone, seat recliner, Daddy's Kindle...the 'call' light button for the attendant was her absolute favorite. Sigh. She kept us all hopping.

Our last flight in April - a piddly four hours and twenty minutes - was tough. E had her own seat (even though she isn't two yet), but really didn't care to sit in it. She gave up sleeping on planes months ago and fights sleep with everything she's got (and she's got lots).
This time around, E wanted to explore, and talk (very loudly) to all the other passengers. Talk, Talk, Talk. She wanted to sit on my lap, then daddy's lap, then back to mine. Sit, Stand, Sit, Squirm, Down, Up, Down again.  
It's not that she was misbehaving because she really wasn't. She just isn't used to sitting still for that long. We own one very busy bee and we are asking a lot of her every time we fly.
I packed a whole bag of tricks to keep her occupied - her favorite snacks, most loved books, new toys all wrapped up to open and play with. We made it through the flight okay, but flying with her isn't what it once was suddenly. Let it be said that she doesn't mind flying - no sickness or ear issues. She loves looking out the window and "discussing" all she sees with us.

All you parents of more than one child who are frequent flyers, get your laughs in now. I have a deep and lasting respect for this very challenging undertaking, and am seeking your wisdom and guidance. Especially if you are the long-haul flight kind of family.
You see, flying with E has been okay with four hands to 'handle' her. C likes to sneak his snoozes and an odd movie or two in (had to say it), but he is always there to help feed, walk, or hold E whenever I need him. Teamwork rocks. We've been lucky to have travelled together so often!

So, here's the thing - I think E & I may fly home a bit early this summer. (Home = Nova Scotia, Canada). This will give the grandparents more time with E, and also give us time to get over some jet lag and have a better visit. There are no words for how hot a Doha summer can be, so escaping it a tad early would free us of that heat for a while longer. C plans to follow us later. 
My question: What am I in for?
We are looking at 18 to 22 hours in total. Good God. I shudder at the thought of it.
Juggling an independent-sleep-refusing toddler, luggage and lay overs. Trying to rest/eat/keep quiet during a long haul flight. Trying to PEE whilst holding E in my arms at the same time (TMI, I know, but it is a serious consideration!). I feel a headache coming on just picturing it all in my mind.
Bonus for me: all the flights out of Doha to my neck of the world seem to leave at very stupid times... 3:50am is a popular one. Just perfect for E to get her cranky you-dare-to-wake-me-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-haul-me-to-the-airport-where-there-are-fluorescent-lights-beaming-down-upon-me-from-the-ceiling-begging-me-to-be-super-awake-and-on-high-alert-for-the-flights-ahead. Why oh why are airports not calm, dimly lit spaces with soft smells of lavender wafting around, and faint 'beach wave' nature sounds playing in the background? A girl can dream, I guess.  
Let the advice pour in. I am currently searching the internet obsessively for the best flight combinations to get us there in the shortest amount of time. This still isn't a done deal. I may chicken out. If I do chicken out, grandparents, bite your tongues, as I have/had good intentions.  We will see what happens. I have about nine weeks to plan a smooth flight. Tickets need to be purchased soon. I think I can, I think I can! I can, right?

You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky.
~Amelia Earhart