Last Friday I set out on a girls’ weekend to Boston to visit some old friends. To make the trip a more attractive sell for my husband, I proposed that I bring our youngest child along with me, leaving him with only the two- and five-year-old, as opposed to all three. (I assume this means that he will bring at least one of the children along with him on his next boys’ trip, and will remind him of this whenever the topic should arise.)
Anyway, it had been a while since I’d flown by myself with a baby. I did it when my oldest was little, but as the size of our family increased, the kids generally came as a package deal- all or none. While I was looking forward to seeing my friends in Boston, I did have some anxiety about the long journey: a two-hour drive to the airport in Charlotte, a parking shuttle from the long-term lot, getting all of our crap through security, and then the flight itself. I just wasn’t thrilled about putting my emotional well-being, as well as that of anyone within hearing range, in the hands of a seven-month-old.
But guess what? There’s something to be said for letting your infant tag along when the need to fly arises. Here are a few observations I was able to make during this weekend’s installment of The Adventures of Mommy and Alex!:
- Show TSA agents a baby, and suddenly they are the most pleasant people in the world. And who are you? Aren’t you the cutest person I’ve seen all day! Look at those big, beautiful eyes! I have literally never heard a TSA agent speak in exclamation points before. Or baby talk. Or, come to think of it, display any signs of human emotion.
2. When you have a baby with you, strangers help you do things like get your stroller folded up at the end of the jetway. They call your attention to the spoon that baby just dropped on the floor. They offer to hold things for you. The young woman I sat with on my flight up to Boston told me to let her know if there was anything I needed. She let me set my ginger ale on her tray table to keep it away from little baby hands that might want to knock it over. Imagine if I were infant-less and I tried to set my drink on someone else’s tray table. They’d be like, get your drink off of my tray table, you freaking weirdo. Babies make people nicer. It’s a proven fact.
3. Babies are a good conversation starter, a way to connect with the people around you. It generally starts with someone asking how old she is, then we talk about some baby related to them, then we talk about traveling with babies, where we are going, the weather where we are going, and then we settle into an awkward silence because we have nothing left to say and we are trapped in a small space together until the plane lands.
4. Luckily, babies are an even better conversation ender. I could just turn from the person I was talking to and start speaking to Alex instead, and they wouldn’t find it rude at all. What do you want to do, honey? Do you want to look out the window? Do you want to bang on the back of the seat? Do you want to wipe drool all over the arm of the person sitting next to us? You can, because you’re a baby, and everyone likes you! If the nearby conversationalist didn’t get the hint, I always had breastfeeding up my sleeve. Oh, looks like she’s hungry! I find that strangers have a difficult time chatting up someone who has their boob out in a public place. Which I don’t recommend doing unless you are traveling with an infant.
5. First dibs on overhead storage. Try to gate check my carry-on now, beotch!
6. Have you ever arrived at your destination when flying solo and said to yourself, Wow, I handled that really well. No one on the plane hates me and I don’t have any poop on me! I did a great job sitting in a chair while being transported from point A to point B- go me! Add a baby to the mix, and a totally passive act becomes a giant accomplishment, and a reason to celebrate. I think I deserve a drink!
I’m sure when my husband reads this, he will be convinced of the merits of traveling with small children and will want to immediately begin planning his next trip. Where to next, honey? Want to bring all three?