I look at the clock. We’re doing okay. Thirty-nine minutes and counting. We just need to get through the ticketing line, then security, then get a gatecheck tag for the stroller, then get on the plane. We can do it.
Sure we can.
Here we go…we are next in line. Finally. I notice a bouncing motion to the right of my line of vision. The bouncing has red curly hair. Uh-oh. That would be my kid. One of them.
“Mommy I have to pee.” Bouncing, bouncing, bouncing and grabbing onto something I can’t mention which is a rather embarrassing habit he has when he really has to go.
“But, honey, we are next in line, we can’t leave now.”
“Mommy!” Bouncing, bouncing, grabbing.
“Look, look! It’s our turn. Here we go. It’ll be really fast.” I push the stroller (it’s really a toddler car seat attached to a Go Go Babyz (the GGB) carrier, which is wonderfully convenient but very hard to steer) up to the counter.
“I have a lap child,” I tell the attendant. Okay, that’s not my only problem on this trip. I’m traveling with both kiddos on my own, which I’ve done before so it’s nothing new but it’s always eventful. Red curls, bouncing, bouncing, on the periphery.
“Do you have a birth certificate or shot records?” I hand him Baby S’s shot records as quickly as possible, trying to speed things along and avoid having Little Boy K soil himself. After several delays from this man who clearly is in no hurry today, and is all-in-all very pleasant although pleasant is not what I’m looking for (I need quick!), we are on our way.
We burn rubber heading to the bathroom, Little Boy K agrees not to make me (and Baby S strapped to the GGB) join him in the stall, the bouncing stops, and we speed through the hallway, threatening collisions with other airport attendees who happen to find themselves in the path of the GGB and Baby S’s wildly swinging arms.
The security line is quick as is usual when you are in the “family line”. Thank the good Lord for the family line. We make our way up to the TSA attendant, who takes our credentials and immediately frowns.
“They didn’t put your first name on here.” That is clearly my fault…because I have a say in the way my boarding pass is printed. I make policy decisions on boarding-pass printing for Southwest Airlines in my free time; didn’t you know that?
“Yes, I see that. Perhaps that is because my last name is so long there may not have been room. I’m not sure.”
“Well they didn’t put his first name on here either,” he says, motioning to Little Boy K’s ticket. K goes wide-eyed with fear that he is guilty of some unknown transgression. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
Again, “Yeah, I don’t know why.” I glance at the clock. Twenty-eight minutes. Now I know you’re not supposed to get snippy with the TSA guy but this is not something I have any control over. My foot starts tapping. We’ve gone from bouncing boy-part grabbing to foot tapping. We are just a cacophony of nervous tics in my family.
Finally, he waves us through, the expression on his face telling me this was against his better judgment. It must be because I look like someone who is trying to smuggle children through on fake identification.
I’m beginning to identify with poor Odysseus, desperately trying to make his way home while encountering one roadblock after another. The TSA officer would likely be Polyphemus, I giggle to myself.
I start unloading the GGB, unstrapping the baby, removing my flip-flops, and…
“Oh no! Mommy! Oh no!” I hear the tears in his voice before I can even look up to see them.
“My bag! My bag with my present from Auntie Scarlet! It’s not here! I must have left it in the bathroom!” And the tears start sliding down his beautiful freckled cheeks. Panic is written all over his face.
What are you gonna do?
I take a deep breath, put everything back over my shoulder like the sherpa I always dreamed of becoming and we beat all heck back through security, heading to the bathroom. Please let it still be there…thank goodness he used the women’s bathroom, I tell myself. Women are much less likely to run off with a bag full of Star Wars toys…I think.
Star Wars toys safely recovered, we again take flight through the hallways like speeding gazelles. Well, gazelles pushing a car seat. Maybe we can still make it. I really don’t want to be stuck in this airport on standby with two kids because we missed our flight. I REALLY don’t want that.
“What are you trying to do, ma’am?” Drat! I am accosted by yet another TSA officer who actually yells this at me. WTH?! Can’t he see we’re in a hurry?! What do you think I’m trying to do?! I’m in an airport with two children, a car seat on a GGB and several bags. Why, I must be here for a picnic.
Exasperated, “we are trying to catch our flight before it leaves us.”
Surprisingly helpful, he points out an alternate elevator (very necessary when traveling with the GGB) that leads to an upstairs less-crowded security line.
We show our credentials…again. This TSA officer does not seem as intent on slowing us down with complaints about our missing first names. Very grateful. Very, very grateful. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
And I pull the GGB up to the x-ray machines and ask for a hand-check. (If you’ve traveled with a toddler seat on a GGB, you know that they are too large to fit through most airport x-ray machines.) The woman looks at me and actually rolls her eyes and heaves a giant sigh! Oh I’m sorry, ma’am, TSA officer, am I inconveniencing you? You’re right, because I made these rules too. That’s usually what I do when I’m finished with Southwest Airlines’ ticket-printing policy; I make TSA rules for car seats. So sorry.
Finally we are on our way to our gate, sweaty and out of breath. I stop to get the gate-check tag for the GGB and we pull into line, ignoring the oh-god-please-don’t-sit-by-me looks of our fellow passengers. You get really good at that as a mom, don’t you? Ignoring the looks of others…
I’m so grateful we made it to the gate in time. They can’t leave without us now! Wait – where’s my boarding pass?! I just had it! I had to give it to the gate-check woman to get the tag for the GGB. We all step out of line, move our luggage out of the way and trot back over to the desk where I don’t hesitate to interrupt her conversation with a colleague to request my boarding pass which I need to get onto the plane, which is the WHOLE REASON WE ARE HERE.
We board amidst a heated discussion over whether Little Boy K may use the iPhone on the plane. “The back of the plane is wide open if you want to head back there…” the flight attendant helpfully advises us. Sure. I bet the back of the plane is wide open. Generally people don’t like to sit amongst the smell of exhaust and feces but hey, if you have kids, clearly that’s where you belong.
“So we should go to the back?” Little Boy K looks up at me innocently. How sweet they are before bitter cynicism sucks the joy from them.
“No sweetheart, just hop into a seat as close to the front as possible. We can sit wherever we want, just like the other travelers. remember Rosa Parks? Nobody has to “go to the back” anymore.”
Little Boy K chooses the next row, two empty seats and one that is occupied. “Can we sit here?”
My heart sank as I stared at the chosen row. The third seat was occupied by a man about my dad’s age. Knowing that Baby S would want to breastfeed the entire plane ride home (which actually makes for quite a peaceful trip), I feel guilty about making other people uncomfortable when I whip out a boob. I know I shouldn’t feel bad about that but I always try to play the odds by sitting next to a fellow boob-owning passenger.
“Only if this nice gentleman doesn’t mind sitting next to two kids all the way to Houston.” The man looks up at me sheepishly and steps out of the row so that we can slide in.
I sit down and get both kids situated. I breathe a giant sigh of relief. We made it. Once we are settled, being the nosey avid reader that I am, I glance over to see what our new neighbor is reading. I’m especially intrigued because it appears that he is trying to obscure the cover from my view. Well well. It appears to be some sort of James Bond-type novel and on the front is a voluptuous woman in lingerie…wearing a blindfold…with her hands and feet bound.
I will be spending the next 45 minutes with my breast exposed, sitting elbow-to-elbow with a man who enjoys reading porn on planes. Awesome.
Well at least we made the flight!
Happily linking up with yeah write #51