its a scenario thats been played out for us time & time again. perhaps you’ve been on the business-end of it, or simply chuckled along with Bill Cosby’s stand-up bit of the same. but it seems that without fail, there is an extremely disgruntled infant on almost every air flight i’ve ever taken. be it the friday afternoon departure, or the sunday afternoon hung-over return-trip. some poor parent or pair thereof dealing with an infant wailing & screaming & bitching. this was the genre i subscribed to the scene prior to fatherhood. fatherhood changes everything. unfortuneately, no one can be TOLD what fatherhood is; they have to be SHOWN. and as such, having our lil dood come with us on everything anna & i do is not unlike experiencing everything for the first time, all over again.
as with most pre-parents, a screaming baby is simply an audible nuisance. a thing most likely caused by, and thus to be dealt with & stopped by the parent. not once did i don the hat of compassion & think about just what it was causing the kids discomfort. and now square on the other side of the fence, i have such a massive wealth of overpouring respect for the parents i scorned prior to Jude.
babies beget baggage. think of what you alone take onto a flight, not including the bags you lug to the ticketing agent where you (hopefully) check them. so you got your carry-on, great. now, add to that the stroller, the diaper bag, and the general baby-gear bag. oh yea, and the lil dood himself. you’ve just negotiated the gauntlet of getting in & out of the car that got you to the curb. you’ve dealt with the queue at the ticketing counter. now you’re progressing en masse thru the metal detectors with gear & baby, all the while racking up points for patience in an arizona airport in august. Jude was a ‘beeping baby’ so the 2 of us are directed to the second-stage station where both our asses are wanded up & down. then like effluent from a drain, we 3 re-group & re-dress & re-pack out entourage & progress the rest of the 3/4 mile to the gate.
but ooooh, here’s where things get better for a spell. we’re now in the elusive PRE-BOARD group, temproarily spared from the filth & bile & competitive peasants on the open-seating groups A, B, & C. but this blithe ends soon thereafter as we’re hearded down the gangplank where we’ve got to split duties, and fast. i take Jude + diaper bag + single carry-on into the airbus & quickly locate a clutch of 3 seats together. meanwhile, anna collapses the stroller & deals with the ever-effervescent SouthWest flightcrew in their attempts to hand-check the stroller for the duration of the flight. she then re-joins the herd round about, oh, i’d say the 3rd boarding group to file in-turn onto the plane & find Jude & I fiercely guarding our 3 seats from the godless heathons of a full-flight. of course, we cannot be allowed to hold this 3rd seat for the lil dood, so he’ll spend the entire jaunt on my lap.
here is where physics & presure & eustachian tubes come into play. as they pressurise that tube, the wee little eardrums of our hero get pummeled. each atmospheric incline the bus reaches, the level of pressurisation jumps accordingly. this is why we adults have to equalise our own eardrums multiple times per ascent & descent. but Jude cannot do this. he can barely even coo on cue let alone plug a nose. herein lies what must be the root cause of most if not all grumpy babies on an airflight. their wee ears are getting the works, and they’re just reacting to this. and those with even simple nasal gunk may be dealing with the dreaded sinus squeeze. so the long & short here is that any parent of any stage of development will have by now surely offered the best advice to combat this: have the lil dood eating/drinking during take-off & landing. We all know swallowing has a direct effect on our eustachian tubes.
Keep in-mind that the entire ordeal only outlined above is greuling enough, as is, under the best of conditions. those conditions being the low-grade hangovers of Mr & Mrs Parent. But thats another story for another time. But the whole thing would be made worse by lugging around a fussy baby. our first experience with flying the lil dood was just the opposite. like almost everything else with the kid, he just observes things. no peaks. no valleys.
once again, we go into an experience that is wrought with cliches & hazards for the parent of an infant. high on the list of gruesome would surely be for hungover parents to fly with an 8-week old. but we instead dealt with smiles, a hearty appetite, and an overwelming sense of curiosity as Jude was Bjorned thru the dozens of hoops that represent air-travel in the heat of arizona august.
(Originally Posted: 2003_0804)