Travelling with children is like juggling hand grenades; all is fine as long as the pins stay in.
For an expat, when a child is born, the first to do list generally looks something like this:
1) Take baby home from hospital
2) Get passport
3) Buy cot
It’s imperative to get your child onto a plane as soon as you can. You need to do this to be able to give the knowing nods, and appropriate sighs, when talking to other parents about horror plane trips.
Missy was a mere 4 months old when my wife and I decided to venture into the world of travelling with children. We were sort of pushed rather than jumped as friends were in Vietnam and they wanted to meet our new daughter. I sent them a photograph, but it seems that’s not quite the same.
So one fine day we presented ourselves to the airport, having done the impossible and secured a bassinet seat, to start our first plane trip as parents. While we were boarding, the range of stares we were getting struck me. Now Missy is quite the beautiful baby, no really, I’m not just saying that, so we were used to being stopped and she was getting use to being patted and pinched. We had the usual “what a beautiful baby, lucky she looks like her mother,” when I detected an undercurrent – an undercurrent of resentment and annoyance.
We were getting the evil eye from some of our fellow passengers. “How strange?” I thought, as I watched my angel going gracefully down the aisle snuggled into mum. Then it hit me, business travellers and babies just don’t mix. I could read their minds: “if that baby cries…” There were people on this plane who didn’t think we should be there, and suddenly I realized I use to be one of them.
It all came back to me; nestled in my seat with champagne in hand and book at the ready, firing off life threatening emails that simply can’t wait, when on comes a baby. “If that baby cries…!” I use to think. Back then it all seemed so important; having to be asked 5 times to turn off your phone, getting that last email off as the plane rolled down the runway and giving annoying glances at parents who’s children make the slightest sound.
Mercifully for our first flight little Missy granted us the gift of a smooth and relatively relaxing time. Our plane landed and she had slept, ate and poo’d all in the correct order and in the correct amounts.
We have subsequently been on some fortitude testing and exhausting flights, but getting past the first one is an important step to take. Now I get on planes, smile at the people who say “what a beautiful baby, lucky she looks like her mother” and to the business travellers who think: “if that baby cries…” I look at them, and think back, “If you don’t turn that Blackberry off…”