Luckily, my cranky pants pack well

Well, they certainly don't make air travel much fun any more do they? Or even reasonably comfortable? I know there used to be a time in our country's history when air travel was a big treat, a positive event in one's life, worthy of dressing up and feeling special. NOT SO MUCH these days. Pretty soon they will strip us of all personal dignity, maybe even actually STRIP US, and smush us all in a big pile in the center of the plane, chuck a few cans of soda on top and slam the door.

When did they do away with pre-boarding for "families traveling with small children"? I used to ADORE the feeling of skipping past the Power Suited First Class-ers, even though I'm not exactly sure I needed "extra time boarding", aka. more time spent on the plane trying to keep my kids from becoming an airborne birth control ad, and I could never actually skip while laden down with children and their accoutrements.

Yesterday, on our way back to Snowville, we were just hoping to make it back here before THE NEXT SNOW STORM WTF. I started out the day with our carry-ons well stocked, extra diapers, snacks, PB&J sandwiches, changes of clothes, multiple forms of anti-bacterial wipes/sprays/FULL BODY COVERALLS, all ziploc-ed and in their own compartments of the diaper bag. We made our connection, took off only an hour late ("only"! Celebration!) and then.... E pooped. Big time. Not to fear, I am a seasoned traveler, I know that airplanes have a little fold-down shelf behind the toilet for just such purposes. I gathered my diaper items and headed for the bathroom.

No shelf.


I waited in line and checked the other bathroom.

No shelf.

The queeny flight attendant smirked and uptalked at me: "Oh. Yeah. These are older planes? They don't have any facilities for babies?" (I have many gay male friends [see: was a dancer in a former life] so I feel I can say this with impunity: HE WAS BEING A TOTAL QUEEN.)

So I asked if I could change her on the floor.

"Not in the galley!" he said, aghast at the thought of me changing a diaper in the precious NO MORE FOOD FOR YOU, PEON PASSENGERS, OH EXCEPT FOR A $10 BOX OF ASSORTED SNACK PACKS FROM COSTCO food area.

"Oooookkkkaaaayyyy. Where would you like me to change her McQueeny-pants?"

"I don't knoooowww." he said, not even trying to feign sympathy, and turned away.


I headed back into the sardine can of a bathroom and looked around. The closed toilet was the biggest horizontal surface. I took a deep breath, put down my changing pad, placed all my tools in reaching distance and opened the diaper.

I should tell you that E is in a particularly difficult diaper changing phase we like to call the Immediate Flip Over. It's pretty self-explanatory.

So there I was trying to wipe poop off of every fold (there are many, MANY folds on this girl) and she was trying to flip over. She succeeded in flipping her top half over and started grabbing at every dis-GUSTING surface she could find while I grasped her ankles in the air and fruitlessly jabbed a wipe at random spots on her lower half until the combination of our two efforts resulted in contorting her little body into serious chiropractic territory AND slid her face onto the side of the airplane toilet and then SHE PUT HER TONGUE OUT.

O. M. G.


I wiped her tongue off with a wipe and then freaked out about the chemicals in the wipes. I went to rinse out her mouth with water from the sink before remembering that the water in those lovely airplane bathrooms isn't usually potable. I give up.

Finally I got her changed and tried to balance her on one knee to wash her hands in the sink. But you have to hold down one of the little faucet levers to get any water to come out and the cold is freezing and the hot is too hot but I could only press one while still holding her resistant hand out so I start using an antibacterial wipe and then she started trying to eat it and I. GIVE. UP.

When I got back to our seats, I found Z in a loud, tired, cooped-up tantrum and I contemplated walking back to the bathroom IT WAS THAT BAD.

After a lovely three hours of MORE OF THE SAME, we finally got within striking distance of our home airport when the pilot announced that we were in a holding pattern because the DC airport can't handle another SINGLE inch of snow, so we were circling there indefinitely and OH YEAH if we start to run out of fuel we will have to divert to BALTIMORE.

Then, E pooped AGAIN.


At the last moment, we were able to land in DC, two hours late. I actually clapped AND cheered before stumbling out into the airport to wait an HOUR AND A HALF for our bags.

Z on the weird shuttle between terminals at Dulles.
And yes, just a moment before this, she had been holding onto the grimy hand rail AND crawling around on the floor. So much for our anti-bacterial wipes.

It was ALMOST enough to make me swear off of air travel with small children. Except that our trip to Arizona to visit my in-laws was SO AWESOME and driving three days to get there would be even more insane.

We went to the playground every single day.

We woke up to this view.

We gloated (Enlarge to read headline.). (We also ALL need a haircut!)

We ate snacks outside in our shirtsleeves.

Z insisted on putting her feet in the (freezing cold) pool.

CG and I went on a child-free hike (where I sprouted a saguaro out of my head.) (TANK TOP!)

We even attempted a family portrait (BARE FEET) (CG is only wearing a coat because he was catching a cold and shoes because he was just back from the park with Z. I wasn't cold IN THE SLIGHTEST.)

So, in summary: Flying BAD. Arizona GOOOOOOOD.


KG said...

OK, this post should come with a warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EAT OR DRINK WHILE READING THIS POST! I KNOW that it was so NOT FUNNY when is happened, but the diaper-changing scene in the airplane bathroom made me laugh so hard! Oh, Jen! I am so glad the trip made up for the transitions.

Hillary said...

omg, the tongue on the toilet --- ech!

Astarte said...

Oh, holy shit!!! I can't believe it's even legal for them to have a bathroom without family facilities anymore. And seriously, poopy diaper smell is a WAY bigger threat to the sanctitiy of a plane than nail clippers, so you'd think they'd want to provide a way to deal with that situation PRONTO. I would TOTALLY send a nastygram to the plane company. Maybe you'll get a free upgrade next time if you mention that you'll be suing their asses if she gets sick from (gag) licking the (gag) toilet (AAAKKKK!!) !!!!

Michelle said...

I cannot even imagine changing a child in an airplane bathroom. This is why I might never get on a plane until my children our potty trained.
Lovely pictures.

Marie Green said...

The airlines wonder why they aren't making any money, and yes, it's partly because of the economy. HOWEVER. Can they make the experience ANY MORE miserable? (Wait. don't answer that.)

Barbara said...

Oh my... I was trying to drink while reading your post and almost spit it all over my keyboard! That was hilarious....however, while you were in the moment I'm sure it wasn't so funny....Glad you had a wonderful trip, and got a good laugh at the expense of all of us stuck in blizzard #2....(it was INSANE!) Welcome home!

Swistle said...


Gina said...

Think of how strong E's immune system will be!

Somewhere in this country there is a United aircraft with a bit of baby poop smeared on the middle seat, front bulkhead row, left side.

When Thomas was 4 months old we took him to Kansas for my brother's wedding and he had one of those poosplosions. There was no changing shelf in the bathroom so we made do (or doody, you might say) right there in the seat. I did not feel guilty in the slightest for soiling their airplane. They are idiots for not providing proper facilities.

We are all flying to Germany in June (with a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old). I must be insane right?

bat7mess said...

You are an AWESOME storyteller! I'm just sorry that your stories come from actual horrible-if-you-are-the-one-going-through-them experiences. So glad you guys got away. Things here in Snowville were most sucky.

mamarose said...

Simultaneously amused, grossed out and infuriated on your behalf! Hilarious story, but sorry you had to go through it. Glad you had a lovely time here in AZ - I'll be cursing it in approximately 90 days...

Fran said...

The absolute worst poopy diapers we have ever had to deal with have been while travelling. The first was on a bus from Amsterdam back to Germany where we changed our son on the concrete curb at a closed gas station, and used every last wipe we had with us! The second one was ....wait for it...on a plane!
Welcome home in any case! Great pictures too :)

grammalouie said...

As hard as this surely was (and you have my wholehearted sympathy; I am your mother, after all),I have to say that having a baby in a diaper is perhaps easier than having a puppy in NO diaper.

Here's my story (which you have already heard countless times): About five years ago
I flew from Burlington, Vermont to Los Angeles, California (with one stop in Philadelphia) via USAir with your 8 week old puppy, Sadie. She was our new house gift to you. She was so good on this flight. Nary a peep was heard, and she slept most of the time in her little carrier under the seat in front of me.

But it was a long flight and her little digestive system was immature. Just as we were asked to fasten our seat belts as we were approaching LAX, I smelled a strong, acrid odor. You know THE smell. The parents across the aisle were changing their baby's diaper (in their seat!!) and I thought, oh, that must be that diaper I am smelling. No worries! But the smell persisted. I wanted to disappear as heads turned my way. I summoned the flight attendant and explained that even with the seat belt sign on, I needed to use the lavatory. With her permission, I took Sadie in her carrier with me and when I took her out, I saw she was totally covered in diarrhea. Totally. OMG. Meanwhile we're coming in for landing but I had a shitty puppy on my hands. So I put her in the sink (which she barely fit into) and started to wash her off. Fine. She got pretty much cleaned off (although some of it got on me), but, guess what, the sink got stopped up and would not drain! Here I was with a wet puppy and a sink full of puppy poop! I finally had to leave it the way it was, apologizing to the flight crew as I did. ("Don't worry," one of them said nicely to me,"that's the maintenance people's job."
Sadie was a real champ through this whole ordeal.
P.S. USAir changed their policy on flying with pets right after this happened.

Amie said...

It really has been beautiful here lately. I am sorry you had such a horrible flight but your description was hilarious!

There is an award for you at my blog.

Sarah said...

Oh. My. Word. I've always kind of loathed flying, and I've never even had a hellacious experience, which I realize puts me squarely in the minority. I TOTALLY think you should call and complain- WTF?
Glad you had a great vaca, at least!

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

OK, I love that you wiped her tongue with the wipes and then worried about the chemicals in the wipes. That is totally something I would do! So glad you survived and got a little sun in Arizona!

Anonymous said...

Kids DO NOT belong on planes. Except in the baggage hold.

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