Friday, 15 August 2008

Hurtling Through the Skies on a Wing and a Prayer

Well we got here. It was HARD WORK flying 8 hours solo on a charter day flight with two children under four, but gosh darn it I did it.

Having chosen flight TS207 specifically because the bulkhead seats were available, I was somewhat hopeful that Dumpie - although under two and therefore 'seat-less' - would have enough space to manoever around and cause minimal fuss to other passengers. In that respect I was wrong.

I can barely contain the monsters in our new and spacious London abode, so I don't know why I was feeling so hopeful about 16 square inches of space. If you could have seen the look of quiet dismay which crossed the young black man's face in row 4 as we boarded yesterday, your heart would have gone out to him. (Also, being gay, the 'kiddie-in-close-quarters' thing must have been a double whammy!) At this point Egg was skipping ahead of me and loudly discussing seat options with Bacon the bear, and Dumpie was clinging to my side like a demented limpet - laughing his dirty laugh, munching hungrily on a cookie, and spraying chocolate chips all over the aisle.

The poor fellow, whose name we later learned was 'Eric' had mistakenly sat himself in the window seat, laptop open, and was quietly working on some sort of proposal. As the plane took off I leaned over to him and said, "I bet this wasn't what you envisioned when you pre-booked your bulkhead seat, huh?!" He kind of smiled then plugged in his earphones...mistakenly assuming he could escape his fate.

For the first half of the journey, the two children from the bowels of hell who were sat directly behind us in row five, managed to make Egg and Dumps look good. These little boys, at three and six respectively, were football hooligans in the making. They had shorn heads, loud mouths and were hyperactively bouncing and jumping on their seats (and over the top of ours) due to the strictly junk food diet their obese and harassed mother was feeding them (mars bars, pringles, jelly babies...). Several times the stewardess had to reprimand them, and I swear I could have clubbed them to death when they woke up Dumps who had been dozing fitfully on my lap for a good hour and probably would have continued to do so for significantly longer (thanks to swiftly administered Calpol in the boarding lounge) if they hadn't jolted him awake. Grrrrrrr. (It is worth noting that later on, at about hour six, when Egg and Dumps climbed up on their arm rests and started playing with these boys, Dumps proceeded to terrorize them to the point of making one of them cry. I think there was some hair pulling, pinching and scratching going on but I can't be sure as I was too frazzled to care and was staring sullenly ahead, wishing the flight away.

Anyway, all this to say that things were fairly manageable for the first bit. Then Dumpie got into the food bag....and Egg got chatty with his seat-mate. And i do mean chatty. At one point a spazz-out by Dumps precipitated a panicked fumbling through the snack bag to find any sort of treat distraction. Finally a mini pack of gummi-bears did the trick and turned a blood-curdling scream into a satisfied wimper as processed jelly sweets were stuffed hand over fist into the Dumps' gaping mouth.

A small scuffle broke out between the boys as Egg tried to get his hands on some, and Dumps grudgingly handed over one lone green gummi. Egg held it carefully in his palm and announced it was his little baby bear and he was going to hold it all the way to Toronto. About half an hour later Egg put it down on his seat tray for a second and within the blink of an eye it was swiped and popped into Dumpies mouth.

Egg of course broke out in sobs and Dumps to his credit after some noisy slurping eventually popped out a much smaller version into his palm and offerred it up to Egg - who spent the next hour lamenting its sticky, diminished form (sigh). Whether it was out of the kindness of his heart or a desire to get Egg to shut the heck up about the stupid gummi-bear, the next time the stewardess passed, Eric bought Egg a £2 pack of wine gums and subsequently made himself a new best friend.

The two chatted the entire rest of the journey about anything and everything under the sun...ending up on the topic of height (Eric was vertically challenged) and with Egg bragging that his Dada was the tallest and strongest man in the world because he had lifted the suitcases all by himself into the taxi that morning! Bless...

No one was happier than me when we emerged from Canadian customs with me pulling all our luggage and pushing the pushchair one-handed, and Eggie and Dumps walking out slowly ahead of me to much crowd fanfare, dressed in identically filthy red and white striped tops, holding hands and clutching brown bears. Grandma and Grandpa were quickly spotted in the waiting crowd and as Grandpa crouched down, first Egg then Dumps ran into his waiting arms....

I almost shed a tear did I. It was a moment forever imprinted to memory. Within seconds, as we're all walking to the waiting car, it was as if the eight hours trapped in charter flight hell had not even happened. I'd fly to Australia solo avec the monsters if I had the same sort of reunion in store.

Okay, well maybe not Australia :)

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