Come Fly With Me (If You Dare…)

I have been spending the last couple of weeks in the France and UK with Mr Applepip and the little Pips, hence my blog break. I thought I would return rejuvenated, but an outdoor temperature of 95 degrees today has somewhat put paid to that. Really, weather like this shouldn’t be allowed.

Anyway, the travels. I know they say never work with animals and children, but this could be extended to travelling. Or travelling with children who are animals. I am not saying that my two fit into this category – far from it. If they did, I would never travel with them. I feel I can justifiably gloat that Bigger and Littler behaved like the perfect seasoned travellers they are, entering into the spirit of the adventure and enjoying the journeys as well as the time they spent with their grandparents, aunties and uncles. But they do, like all little boys, tap into their inner primate now and again. Just one sniff of an aeroplane or boat is all that is needed to launch them into stratospheric levels of excitement. Most other travellers we encounter are happy to indulge them their delight, but those who conduct their travels with funereal seriousness are not amused by the invasion of joy.

The ferry was fine; we had a cabin and we mostly stayed there. The plane was a different matter. On the way back to New York we took a day flight, which I am not sure I can stomach again until Littler takes an interest in TV. Children’s television really does have its place, and that place is at 37,000 feet on a transatlantic flight. Bigger plugged himself in as soon as the entertainment started and we didn’t hear from him for the next seven hours. Littler, on the other hand, proceeded to make friends with the entire cabin by firstly strolling up and down the aisle and chirping at everyone, and then standing on the seats and waving to them all. Sometimes this would be accompanied by screeches of ‘ello’, ‘Mummy’, or ‘Daddy’ (depending on who was sitting behind him at the time). This did not amuse Mrs Sourface sitting next to us.

I didn’t notice Mrs Sourface until I became aware of a huffing and puffing and the odd tut here and there about four hours into the journey. This was probably because Littler had spent much of the first hours asleep, then became a little more active on waking. With each delighted yelp from him, Sourface’s shoulders raised closer to her ears, her book thudding up and down on her lap in exasperation and eyes rolling heavenwards. If Littler had been crying, I could start to understand this; I can vaguely remember my pre-mother days when I too would recoil in horror at a young family plonking themselves down next to me on a plane, tensely waiting to see what kind of antics would unfold, but then actually enjoying (yes, really!) being near the little poppets if they didn’t turn out to be the kind who cried too much. It takes a particularly cheerless disposition to feel exasperated by the normal happy noises of a toddler, but unfortunately Mrs Sourface was the owner of just such a disposition. (I say Mrs, but I note she didn’t wear a wedding ring. Presumably if she can’t bear a few hours in the company of a toddler, a lifetime of a husband would be the end of her.)

Tempted though I was to ask Mrs Sourface what her problem was, the sadist in me quickly realised I would derive much more satisfaction from letting this human pressure cooker quietly build up steam without any apparent outlet other than sighing loudly and looking my way (which I pretended I hadn’t seen). This continued for a good hour until the plane started making its descent, and Littler embarked on his piece de resistance: a full ten minutes of blood-curdling screams because his ears were hurting. A few people looked his way in sympathy, and I could see the ‘thank God it’s not us’ looks from those who were probably parents themselves, but Mrs Sourface’s heart remained stubbornly unmelted. By now she couldn’t keep her frustration to herself, so she turned to the man on her left to express her outrage, but there she found no empathy. I heard him tell her that his poor ears were probably hurting. I thought Sourface might implode.

I was glad when we landed, but probably not as glad as Sourface was. I added to her contentment, no doubt, by loudly praising my boys for how well they had done on such a long flight. I should think she was happy for us, too, when we were whisked ahead of other passengers to the front of the mile-long immigration queue because we had tired small children. Thank goodness for the understanding people in this world.

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