Perhaps traveling alone was not the brightest idea: Part the First

(caution: this is rather long, and nowhere near as funny as B.’s account of D.’s TSA encounter)

The plan was to pack on Saturday. As usual, real life had no respect for my plans. I was tired, kids wanted attention, etc, etc – as a result, there we were around midnight, starting to pack. B. liberated flash cards, memory sticks, and outlet adapters from their plastic prisons, and went to bed. I spent the night doing laundry, loading stuff into the big black suitcase, and burning DVDs.

Sunday morning, both little bundles of joy were up by 6:30 am. I finished packing, and realized that, while everything fit into the big suitcase, it also made the aforementioned suitcase virtually impossible to lift, requiring me to pay extra at checkin. To avoid that hassle, I had speedily repacked everything into two smaller hot-pink suitcases. Both were by no means full, but guaranteed to be under the weight limit. Packing the carry-ons proved to be another challenge. Mental note to self: 20 diapers may be an overkill. Books to read for self should go into the suitcase. D. does not need an extra change of clothes. S. would not eat canned 1st foods, no matter how hard you try. At any rate, I was packing to the bitter end (and even then, forgot the diaper cream. Ooops.)

We were warned that there was road construction in Illinois, so it might take us longer to get to O’Hare than usual. So we got out of the house around noon, stopped at Alan’s to get his I-Pass, and toodled off towards Chicago. D. and S. had fallen asleep once we got going, and I finished reading “Spindle’s End” to B.. Sleep was not forthcoming.

We made pretty good time, and got to O’Hare around 2 pm. Then we realized that getting a double stroller with two kids in it, two suitcases, two carry-ons, and a pack’n’play to the check-in area may not be as easy as anticipated. And of course SAS check-in counter was on the opposite side of the terminal from where we entered 🙂

Still, necessity is the mother of invention (it is entirely possible to balance a pack-n-play in front of the handlebars of the double-stroller, in case you are wondering), and we lugged everything to the appropriate counter and checked in. As usual, nobody asked to see the notarized permission letting me take the children out of the country. I asked if I would be able to gate-check the stroller. They said sure. I asked if I would be able to use the stroller in the Stockholm airport, and they said to ask the agent at the gate about that (and so the Stroller Saga begins).

We grabbed a bit to eat at McDonalds, so that D. can have his last French fries and chicken nuggets for a while (when I told that part to Mom, she looked heavenward at the mention of the junk we feed our precious first-born). 20 minutes later, the line to TSA security has more than quadrupled in size. It now snaked almost all the way to the original SAS check-in counter. We had an hour before boarding started, and the line looked like it would easily outlast all of us.

40 minutes later, we had progressed to where the line used to end before we went to McDonalds. At that point, a harried lady gathered all SAS passengers and formed a new line for us. I was told to make sure nothing would trigger the sensors, or I “would keep everybody waiting.” At this point I am thinking, “Lady, I have two little kids, two carry-ons, and a big-ass stroller, I quite frankly don’t give a damn about your problems.” I take off D.’s shoes. He has no idea what is going on, and is not happy. Now I am holding S. and D., and attempting to go through the scanning machine. But no, they want D. to go through on his own. I politely tell them he is not going to. They insist. D. walks half-way through, finds a ticket stub on the floor, sits down in the middle of the gate, and commences playing with the garbage. The TSA agent tries urging him on. D. does not give a damn. Surprise, surprise, they let me through holding both kids. Now I am on the other side, restraining D. while trying to hold on to Squeek. TSA is having issues with my stroller, apparently. I am not sympathetic. Five minutes later, still no stroller. I get a dirty look for having all my stuff still in the bins. I tell them through clenched teeth that I will not be able to do anything until my stroller gets through. Another five minutes, some more TSA struggle to fold the stroller, and finally I and the only way I can get the kids to sit still are reunited. Everybody gets strapped in, and to the gate we go. My opinion of the people behind the idea of TSA finds some new lows to sink to.

At the gate, and the boarding has not started yet. They tag my stroller, and I ask if I will be able to use it when we land in Stockholm. “Sure,” they say. I meet a nice lady named Laura, who is traveling to join her husband and children on vacation in Sweden. Laura plays with S. a while, until we figure out there is no special boarding for passengers with kids. We get in line, Laura carries S. in for me, I fold the stroller and leave it at the gate. Will I see it again in Stockholm? We’ll find out in 8 hours, I guess.

We have three out of four middle seats towards the end of the plane. Pleasant surprise – the fourth seat is empty. I strap D. in at the isle seat (he is NOT amused at being strapped in, even though there is plenty of wiggle room for him with the belt at its tightest), and position the car seat on the other side of me. Takeoff. I shove the boobs into S.’s face, in hopes that he will nurse and pop the pressure in his ears by swallowing. D. is not thrilled about the ear pressure, and I force him to swallow some water, which helps. Toys are being handed out to the kids. S. gets a soft toy that is probably a dragon (opinions vary), and D. a book of Superman stickers. Nice ladies across the isle help him figure out what to do with the stickers. It becomes obvious that D. is not ready for stickers quite yet.

D. eats his grapes and his blueberries, and munches on a some kind of hard thing bread cracker-type thingie they gave us with dinner. Then he settles in to watch Ice Age 2 on the portable DVD player. He wants nothing to do with the headphones, however, so he gets to watch a silent film. In the meantime, S. squeekers a bit, loudly refuses my attempts to feed him baby food, nurses, and finally clonks out around 7 pm. He sleeps on and off until around midnight. D. gets done with Ice Age 2, requests Lilo & Stitch, and finally falls asleep around 10 pm, stretched across his seat and mine. My total sleep time on the plane: 2 hrs.

Our pilot announces that we will be landing in Stockholm in an hour. I repack our bags, buckle in S. (who, if left unbuckled in his seat, demonstrates an unnerving ability to climb out of it), and wake up D., who at this point had about 4 hrs of sleep and is not happy about being woken up. Nothing new there – D. does NOT like it when his sleep is being interrupted (he does not have any such qualms about other people’s sleep).

(to be concluded)

2 thoughts on “Perhaps traveling alone was not the brightest idea: Part the First

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