Have you ever flown with children? Have you ever flown on your own with children? Don’t unless you have to. It is the curse of the expat wife. I remember somebody once asking my husband what it was like to fly with the kids. “Oh, it’s no bother”, he replied breezily. Yes, that would be because he’s never travelled solo with the children. It is a real treat and I would like to share just a few of my highlights with you.
There was the time Sweetpea had an allergic reaction to an insect bite and swelled up an hour into a seven-hour flight from Lagos. The short version is that, as she was a cat’s whisker under two, the cabin crew wouldn’t give her Piriton (an antihistamine). We were med-evaced off the plane at Heathrow by which point she looked like a tiny version of the Marshmellow Man from Ghostbusters. Yeah, that was just fab.
We perfected the standing up nappy change very early on. This technique ensured that a nappy could be swiftly and easily changed in unhygienic, challenging or mosquito infected circumstances of which we have encountered many on our travels.
On one occasion I employed this technique THREE times in the space of TEN minutes in the confines of an airplane seat (“the seatbelt sign is on Madame, you must remain in your seat”) during descent. I can only presume it was something to do with the air pressure. As grotty as it sounds, not to have done so would have had quite catastrophic results for myself and all surrounding passengers.
Oh yes, and there was the time Pickle peed on me whilst strapped to my lap for landing, followed by my damp-crotch-walk-of-shame through the arrivals hall. That is a special memory.
After once entertaining the children for an unexpected 7 hours at Ataturk Airport I was looking forward to zoning out while they watched a film on the plane. The children were bored and fractious. The TV system w a s n o t w o r k i n g. I became the hysterical foreign woman rambling in cave person Turkish. “Two children, seven hours airport. TV broken. Very bad. Very VERY bad.” Taking pity on me the stewardess reappeared with two small bottles of wine and exchanged them for two small children whom she spirited away for a guided tour of the aircraft giving me a brief reprieve to gather my scattered marbles.
Nowadays, our pair are past the difficult stage of travelling….and yet. The last time we flew, (we meaning the kids and I), one of them, who shall remain nameless, sneezed explosively in their sleep all over the arm of the neighbouring passenger. The neighbouring passenger had until this point been charmed and accommodating of the two smallish children with whom she was confined on a 10+ hour flight. However, she silently communicated to me her absolute horror from across the aisle.
I had not a tissue to offer her and was pinned under the leaden weight of the other sleeping child. Short of waking one or both of the children and offering to accompany the poor lady to the bathroom to try and de-snot her sweater I really didn’t know what to do.
Passenger Snotsleeve spent the remainder of the flight ready to leap (and once or twice she did in fact do so) out of her chair at the merest twitch from either of the children. I am sorry pretty lady, wherever you are. You scarpered (and I don’t blame you) the minute we touched down, before I could apologise or offer to pay to dry-clean your sweater.
Then, to cap things off nicely, whilst standing in the queue for Passport Control the kids decided to invent a hilarious new game called “You’re Not my Mummy”, I gave the passport man my very best smile. Oh yes, the frequent flyer miles 0f an expat mother travelling solo are hard earned.
Happy travels to all and to all a good flight!
Are you biting your nails in anticipation of an impending flight with a small child? You might like to read my Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Tots.