Flying certainly isn’t what it used to be, is it? I was about eight years old the first time I was on a comercial airliner. I didn’t fly, but the flight attendant saw me standing by the gate and took me onboard to meet the pilot and see the cockpit. They gave me wings – little plastic ones that became one of my most prized treasures; and, emotional wings that pointed to possibilities for the future. My daughter got her wings after our flight into Omaha!
I flew for the first time when I was 14. It was a big deal. I had a brand new Levi’s denim leisure suit to wear, and my parents had prepared us to be a part of “high society.” We were served a hot meal, by beautiful and smiling “stewardesses.” This was the pinnacle of success in the eyes of my parents! Now, riding in an airplane isn’t much different than riding in the bus – only it takes longer and is more dehumanizing. Air travel has lost it’s charm.
Traveling alone used to be relatively easy. I’d rarely check bags, so it was just a matter of walking on the plane and walking off severl states away. Now, however, traveling with The Wife, Darling Daughter, and soon-to-be-toddler, Smiling Son, we’ve clearly lost that sense of simplicity. There really is nothing easy about traveling with a young family.
First, there is the luggagae issue. We, apparently, need to be prepared for any and all eventualities. Then, we need car seats, stroller, diaper bag/backpack, toys, favorite books, dolls, food, drink, and of course, whatever else we deem can’t be lived without. To top off the complications, United has started charging for every checked bag. Fifteen bucks for the first bag and twenty-five for every bag after that. While this did provide some incentive to pack lighter, it made packing more like a Sudoku puzzle and less like a high society adventure! It also meant that we pushed the limits of how many carryon items we could stow in the overhead bin and at our feet.
I’ve also learned that prepublished airline schedules are more like wish lists. One doesn’t really get to determine when one’s family flies anymore. We merely get to submit a wishlist and hope the airline will honor that. In our case, we’ve discovered that early morning flights have a negative effect on our ability to remain sane.
So, I booked a flight that was supposed to leave early in the afternoon and would plop us down just before bedtime. But about a month before we flew, there came an email that expressed the United’s attempt at making our day a living nightmare. They had added a three hour layover to our itinerary and we wouldn’t arrive in Omaha until just before midnight. Apparently the scheduling computer has never traveled with small children.
Food is no longer a luxury included in the week’s wages I gave them for the privilege of being dehumanized by the system. So, my Goregeous Wife made preparations to bring along two meals for the day. In case you don’t know, this isn’t as easy as it may sound.
Fortunately, my kids are not TV watchers. I believe this contributes to their ability to self-entertain themselves, but it doesn’t take away the fact that four people who can easily fill up a 2000 square-foot house are now crammed into a space about the size of our refridgerator – for most of the day. It’s OK though, we’ll be fine, really!
The biggest stressor of all, at least for this Daddy, is the responsibility for keeping my family safe and sane. Being a naturally protective individual, I tend to take this role way too seriously. I’m on the lookout for people who may want to steal, or molest, my kids. I’m on the lookout for people who may try to rip us off. I’m constantly aware of “stranger-danger.”
Then there’s the fact that I don’t have a lot of confidence in the poor souls entrusted to screen our luggage or the people getting aboard the plane I’ll be flying on. There’s something not-so-comforting about the fact that they make my 13 month-old Smiling Son take off his shoes before going through the metal scanner. In fact, I’m not even sure how limiting the amount of carry-on fluids helps. Other than the fact that I end up drinking a lot more tap water when I fill my water bottle from the drinking fountain in the terminal.
When the logical side of my brain stops to think about it, I realize there are not many crimes commited in airports. In fact, there is so much security at airports, it would be incredibly stupid for anyone to attempt a major crime there. However, that’s where my previous experience with career criminals and knowing their judgement is often clouded by their low IQ, or drug induced state of mind.
By the end of the day, I am mentally exhausted. My Gorgeous Wife takes good care of the physical and emotional needs of the family, but it is I who is left with the role of constant vigelance and regular patrolling of the perimeter. This is a lot harder than I make it look. I could really use a couple of staff members with ear-piece radios and small arms, but lacking the budget for that, I’m left to take care of everything on my own. It’s a tough job, but… well, you know!
As we left the plane in Omaha, the flight attendant gave my Darling Daughter her first set of wings. She thanked us for having well-behaved children. DD walked off the plane with her head held high. She is beginning to realize that the possibilities are endless!
So, until the return flight, I’ll be recuperating, via rest and relaxation. A man has to prepare to defend his family at all costs, at every turn, whenever the need arises. The reality is, there is little danger. Planes are safer than cars and there is less stranger danger in an airport than at the local Wal-Mart.
In fact, the best support I can offer my family is to stay healthy: emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. This health can be transmitted to my family and provide the kind of leadership that will provide a solid foundation and positive trajectgory to my kids’ lives.