Friday, July 18, 2008

The Divine Comedy

W: "SHUT THAT KID UP!!!"

That command/complaint/admonishment/adult tantrum rang out and came as quite a shock, above the wailing, midflight Seattle to Minnesota, a week ago today. I remember thinking, well at least I know where we are: We just passed out of the Eighth Circle of Hell and now we're plunging, head first, down into the Ninth.

I can't put too great a point on our experience, this flight with twin 18 month-olds in tow: There is no possible way it could have been worse.

It sounded like an Exorcism.

And so after D gently shot down my idea to rent a car to drive home to Seattle instead of fly, and after we gently told all of our relatives that this was our last flight until the twins are 12, and after the PTSD gently started to subside, we began to Monday morning quarterback what went so horribly awry.

First, we absolutely could not have had a better set up on the plane. The flight wasn't full, and I had "Demon F" myself in the second to last row of the plane and D had "Demon O" to herself in the last row of the plane. 1 adult + 1 toddler, 3 seats. Sounds perfect, doesn't it?

We also each had our bag of tricks. Bottles, water, tons of snacks, new toys, videos, books, blankets, puppets (puppets!), you name it.

But we also had an enormous lapse in judgement when we decided - without testing it first - to try Baby Benadryl on the Deuce. And we decided to roll the dice with Baby Benadryl knowing that there's a 50-50 chance that it could have the opposite effect. And I don't have to tell you that we came up snake eyes, do I?

(Tidbit #1: Even if you are the gambling type like us, we strongly recommend testing the effects of any medication on your child before you reach 30,000 feet.)

So, after we adequately jacked our kids up on kiddie crack, the real fun began. Another flight of our senses, we decided at the gate to check our car seats as baggage rather than bring them on the plane for the twins to sit in.

This was shear silliness, and I admit, I was the perpetrator. I recall saying, quite confidently, "Honey, I'm sure the lap belts will work just fine." And D, said, Ok, let's try it. And I don't have to tell you how that turned out, do I?

(Tidbit #2: If you're going to fly, and you have seats for your 18-month-olds, then strap them into car seats.)

The levees broke. The lap belts held the kids for about 3 minutes, and each of those three minutes sounded like we were twisting the kid's ears, hard. Demon F can reach a higher register with his wail, it's an octave that is not found in nature, it's quite amazing (proud parent always). Dogs can hear it from 30,000 feet. This was also the time when people around us started to stick their heads up and look back at us.

And like the song says, "when the levee breaks, mama, you going to have to move," D started working the isles, letting one half of the Deuce "free to move about cabin," while I did my best to entertain/contain the other twinsie. This worked for about 20 minutes.

But see, the Deuce are toddlers. Toddlers who have license to run all over their yard, the parks, their playroom, all day everyday, and despite all of our attempts to convince them that a cabin of an airplane filled with 180 of our closest strangers was different than those other free roam, anything-goes environments, they felt (strongly) otherwise. And they let us, and everyone on the plane know that they were absolutely, beyond repair, pissed off.

It was about that time that the woman five rows up, on the other side of the aisle, in the middle seat, Seat 22E, decided that the best way to convince the kids to stop freaking out was to tell us, the parents, to SHUT THAT KID UP.

(Tidbit #3: The tactic taken by the woman in Seat 22E does not actually work. See, 18-month-olds are brand spanking new to their emotions and have not developed a mastery of their own feelings let alone the ability to understand that other people have feelings too, and that their actions affect the people around them. If you choose to act like the woman in Seat 22 E, at best, you will look like a fool and at worst you will have an upset parent all up in your grill. The best course of action would be to remember, before you get on the plane, that people of all shapes and sizes, even very young ones, travel by air and that earplugs are a wonderful investment.)

And so it went. 3 hours of wailing punctuated by brief interludes of quiet when Mom let one twin run down the isle of the plane and I somehow managed to occupy the other twin.

But whatever - the Flight from Hell didn't kill us, and after the Monday morning quarterbacking, we started to smile, and then laugh.

The Flight from Hell was over. Nothing could be worse than that. Everything else will be better. The Divine Comedy indeed.

Posted by Walker Lockhart @ 8:51 AM

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oh man...you've got me shaking it my boots! we are flying to sf in a month and i'm already starting to dread it. the last time we flew with them was over christmas and it was the trip from hell. 9 months later that memory still looms large...and now they are not just walking, but RUNNING everywhere. that coupled with the fact that we booked them as lap kids - i think we're screwed. i'll cross my fingers the flight isn't full and we'll have some space. the one thing i keep telling myself is, worst case scenario, it's 4 hours with a bunch of people we will never see again.

you guys are troopers! i hope the flight home was a lot better.

Posted by Blogger t + j @ Friday, July 18, 2008 11:07:00 AM #
 

Lara and I aren't big TV fans. In fact the boys rarely ever get to watch (which is probably why this works so well). Frontier has TV's and most computers have DVD players. This occupies our kids for the length of the flight. In fact, this usually puts them to sleep. Food for thought...

Kleiner...

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ Friday, July 18, 2008 1:02:00 PM #
 

W & D - As you know I am a huge fan of the deuce! I always read your blog every week and for some reason today (Friday) I decided to see if you posted any new photos or short video of the kids. I have to say that the moment I started reading W's "devine comedy" I was in tears after the first few words as I was laughing so hard. I have been in that situation as have many parents. The fact that only one woman said anything shows you that the others were clearly thinking "thank god it is not us this time". Just remember that this is the good stuff - the stuff that you will tell the twins and share with other parents and you'll laugh about it years from now, just as I did today reflecting back when my now 24 year old daughter, 17 and 12 year old boys had my hair standing on end while traveling with them.
Truly, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time and just enjoyed the story so much.

On a different note, you solved a huge mystery over here at Amazon. Last Monday Jeremy popped up over the cubicle wall and said "geez who's kids are crying?"

Thanks for the Story! See you Monday!
Colleen

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ Friday, July 18, 2008 2:58:00 PM #
 

Love your blog! I have a set of twin boys who are almost 4. Also a couple of girls who are 6 and 1.5.

Posted by Blogger Fern @ Sunday, July 20, 2008 3:29:00 PM #
 

I feel guilty admitting that our times flying with our twins was nothing but great. However, we DID use the car seats and that was awesome - it was like a long car ride.

Also, I was given a twin stroller to give away on my blog (will start Monday morning). I'm holding a contest. If you know any other twin parents with younger kids, let them know too, please!

Posted by Anonymous Matthew @ Sunday, July 20, 2008 8:41:00 PM #
 

Awesome.

We're flying from Anchorage to Seattle, Seattle to Honolulu and Honolulu to Maui in a few weeks. That's 10 hours of air time. I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it. Oh, and B refused to buy F & R their own seats because he thinks he is some kind of super toddler wrangler and proclaimed that it "won't be a problem".

Thanks for Tidbits #1-3. I'm glad that you both were able to get past your PTSD, have a laugh and hopefully one stiff cocktail!

Posted by Blogger Carrie & Brook @ Monday, July 21, 2008 9:12:00 PM #
 

Wow, y'all. Just awful and hilarious story. Dana, thank you for posting the link to MMP. (We met at happy hour some months back.) We had a less awful trip with Andrew that was shorter than 3 hours, but was that ever trying. Can't imagine how tough with two. Phew! Good job coping, love the humor and attitude!

Mitchell

Posted by Blogger Pamela/Mitchell @ Tuesday, August 05, 2008 9:34:00 PM #
 

I am absolutely terrified after reading this. I am flying ALONE to Aruba with my twins in September. They've never flown before. We DO have the DVD players, though. Officially scared to death now.

Posted by Blogger Amy @ Wednesday, August 13, 2008 3:20:00 PM #
 
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