Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shreds of Sanity

In about three weeks the kids and I leave to head back to Arizona for a month-long vacation. And while it seems like it's a long time away still, my to-do list is written and there is a mound of growing debris that I am gathering in my bedroom that needs to get shlepped to Arizona with us. Which made me remember this blog; one of my first postings back in December of 2007. The kids and I have made the trip many times since then and I can tell you that not much changes. Maybe they aren't as loud now that they are older, but there is still fighting. So, I'm going to go back to tackling the to-do list, while you entertain yourself at my expense. Enjoy.

Anyone who has ever traveled with children—especially on an airplane—knows what a harrowing and exhausting experience it can be. Even when your children are fairly well behaved. In fact, I think I’d rather get paper cuts underneath all my fingernails than to take my five and seven-year-old on a cross country trip again. They have been traveling on planes since they were very small, so I figured I was getting seasoned enough to know how to do it right. I always try to come armed with paraphernalia to keep an entire troop of children happily entertained for hours, but somehow 10 minutes into the flight the floor beneath our seats is littered with food wrappers, crayon shavings, shoes, a few socks, empty Capri sun packages and the children are, well, bored.

I have flown enough to know that the key to surviving an airplane trip with your children—at any time really, but especially when you are sans husband—is to keep the carry-on mess to a minimum. Each child has their own backpack, which contains: their music players, gameboys, crayons, coloring book, plain notebook, a pen and pencil, perhaps two small travel games or a deck of cards, a bag of their own personal snacks, a small pillow, and their “pet” stuffed animal. Theoretically, individual bags will alleviate the fighting, bickering and general upheaval that is typical of siblings, especially when those siblings are crammed together in airplane seats sized for your basic Oz Munchkin. I say theoretically because my children can always find something to fight about. “Your arm is on MY part of the arm rest… SO?…SO get it off it’s been there the whole time and I’m uncomfortable and it’s my turn to use the armrest…FINE have the armrest I didn’t want it anyway…THUNK…OWWW! MOM he pulled my pillow out from under my head…I’m going to rest now and I NEED a pillow…I was USING that pillow…SO?…SO it’s not fair…Well you CAN’T use the pillow AND the armrest at the SAME TIME…

It’s at this point I stand up and ask if anyone would like to switch seats with me, an LDS mom perhaps, who is used to dealing with 8 or 9 kids at the same time, which would make my two seem like a vacation, but alas, there are no takers. Quite a lot of people are whispering to each other however, which I don’t think is a good sign.

I sit down and wedge myself in the seat between them hoping my presence will make a difference. However, by the time our flight arrived in Boston—12 hours after leaving Phoenix—I was spent. My husband met us with a shiny smile and open arms, while all I could do was hold back the sob that wanted to escape. You’d think that the drive home at 10:45 at night would put the kids into some type of sleep, or at least quiet respite, but of course the adrenaline was still coursing through the veins, and the yelling and fighting, wrestling, singing, guffawing laughter and all around vocal upheaval was still alive and well. My husband said, “You’re quiet tonite. Are you tired?”

I’m sorry. Did he just ask me if I was tired?
Seriously. Is that what he just said?

I stared ahead and bit my tongue. Any sound that would have come from my mouth would have been a total verbal freak out and I was trying to stay pleasant. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks after all.
But tired? TIRED?? Tired doesn’t even begin to touch the depth to where my fatigue had fallen. Lower than smashed gum on the sidewalk, I tell you. But tired as I was, truth be told, I just wanted them to shut up. I had been the only adult to shield the barrage of questions and comments that shot from their gun-fire mouths since 10:00 a.m. And every one of those questions and comments was preceded with, “Can I ask you a question” or “Mom, I have something to tell you.” By the time those wheels touched down on my Bean Town black top, I was neck deep in words, question marks, complaints, exclamations; just sitting there drowning in black, bold letters and onomatopoeias. They were sucking the very life out of me to the point where all my answers were, “I don’t know.”
“When are we landing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Will Dad be there to pick us up?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why is the green light on above the bathroom signal?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do we do if only two masks come down from the top?”
“I don’t know.”
“Mom, do you love me?”
“I don’t know.”

I just wanted them to shut up. Shut up shut up shut up. I needed the ride home to be peaceful and quiet for five minutes. Tired? Yeah, I was tired. Tired of noise emanating from their messy squishy faces. By the time we were finally home and the children were in bed my ears were aching, the cartilage throbbing to the memory of their constant cacophonous clatter.

Now after writing this, tell me again why we take this trip every year, adding a baby to the mix? I know it's only six hours of my life and the good news is that no one knows me. I probably won't see any of those people again. I've tried to be proactive and have packed enough crap to keep them entertained for hours, and we've also got the DS's and the mini video player. A little bit of Benadryl, and we should be all set.

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