Friday, 8 March 2013

Toddlers on a plane

You may have seen the scary (and hilarious) film - Snakes on a Plane, but that was just the precursor for my tale – Toddling Twins on a Plane.  It’s already been green lit by Hollywood and will star a wild cat and a Tasmanian devil as Itchy & Scratchy - my 2 yr old twin girls.
We had 4 days in Jersey last month to see the in-laws and if I thought that it was going to be easier than 6 months ago when they were 18months, I was in denial.  I hope my story serves as an inadvertent guide to others on what works, and what doesn’t.  I’ll even chuck in some home grown top tips for you.
Arriving at Long Stay car park 1 at East Midlands airport, we realised our first mistake.  Although it was 3 minutes walk to departures in Toddler distance that’s about 3 miles.  Leaving the pram at home (for reasons I’ll divulge later) they we on reins, but a) it was snowing and blowing a gale, and b) they tried to collect every stone on the way making us wish we’d factored in 45 mins of pre-flight nature walk time.  Top Tip 1 – spend the money and park right outside if you’re pram free.
Arriving at the airport we were delighted to find it very quiet with no queues.  Checking in was going to be a breeze.  We walk straight up to the counter and start to hand over booking refs etc.  When asked if it was just us adults flying, we explained no our little darlings were coming too.  Cue – turning round and finding no children.  Anonoman had let go of said reins and they were currently legging it across the concourse leaving the squeals of delight as the only trails to find them.  They were running under those makeshift barriers they have to control the queues and watching Anonoman trying to catch them gave me fond memories of Linford Christie’s hurdling in the 80’s, minus the revealing Lycra.  Top Tip 2 – give them a job at check in so they don’t run off.
Children retrieved we headed to passport control and the security gates.  Flying from a small airport is great because there are small distances to walk and less crowds.  But it was this moment that my twins discovered they could throw themselves at the floor and we’d hold them up from their reins stopping them from bashing their teeth in.  The best game in the world to a 2 year old and I thought about adding human Puppeteer to my resume.  I feel guilty walking through security with all those poker faced androids starring at me to see if I’m the kind of mother to conceal cocaine on my children somewhere.  But add my kid’s mayhem into the mix and we were most certainly the centre of attention.  Anonoman goes through the scanner first and gets taken off to the side to be frisked because it had bleeped.  I’m left trying to put all our coats and hand luggage through the machine and trying to stop  both kids from floor diving like Tom Cruise in that film and braking their faces...ironically a mission impossible.  They're also no running around me transforming me into a human maypole.  I can’t lift them both, they won’t go through the scanner.  I end up dragging them through on their arses which becomes a new game to them.  I’m left looking apologetic and embarrassed as I notice Anonoman is close to having the rubber glove treatment.  I’m actually envious because I’d take his place and would I’d like to give someone else some shit for a change – literally. Top Tip 3 – make sure you put some metal in your pockets to set off the scanner and leave your partner dealing with the kids.
Waiting for the flight was packed with the usual toddler antics.  Running after them, trying to distract them with food, noticing other people have clocked you and are praying you’re not on their flight.  I noticed the couple next to us in the cafe had ordered a bottle of wine...it was 9:30am and I hoped they were starting their holiday in style and it wasn’t a reflection on the close proximity of my kids.
Then the bit I had been dreading – boarding the plane.  The reason we were pramless was because last time having a pram at this point was a nightmare.  Itchy had started to become unwell then and was clinging to us while we were trying to fold down the pram, putting labels on it, holding our hand  luggage as well as two children who were trying to run off onto the runway.  I remembered Anonoman took Itchy and walked off leaving me with the rest to sort out.  My resounding memory was being flustered and angry, giving him dagger eyes, and then seeing Itchy vomit on his head.  One of those moments were you just know that God exists.  Top Tip 4 – if your child becomes ill when you’re at the airport, leave one of those plastic bibs on them that collects stuff in the bottom.  It’ll save their clothes from vomit.
This time round we had none of those stresses.  Our girls were quite distressed getting onto the metal tube of hell – as they must have saw it.  We were the last passengers on (because of the dawdling and floor diving) and they screamed all the way to their seats.  We weren’t making any friends on this flight.  But once they were buckled in and bribed with lollies and biscuits all was fine.  They had sticker booked, a drawing pad and our iphone games to keep them entertained and the flight was fine.  Top Tip 5 – leave lots of time to walk to the departure gate.  Take snacks, games and books and a dummy if they’re still using them.  Book a seat next to the window as it’ll keep them entertained– not all of them do. A short flight is an ideal introduction for toddlers on a plane. 
We just need to see if Samuel L Jackson wants to be in our horror movie too...but he might find it too unrealistic.