When we last left our intrepid and foolhardy travelers, they were attempting to leave the land of modular furniture and $500 strollers (also known as Sweden) for the Steel City, where french fries go on everything and the verb "to be" has become obsolete (aka Pittsburgh). We had successfully managed to make it through security with minimal hassles, though as I'm watching everyone hop around on one foot while they try to put their shoes back on while standing up, I always marvel at how poorly planned out those security checkpoints are.
Having survived my thoroughly unpleasant father in law, two difficult gate agents, and, of course, the various vomiting and whining of my kids, Haakan and I congratulated ourselves on making it inside the airport with most of our sanity intact and decided that we'd all earned some breakfast, which means cinnamon rolls and a badly needed cup of coffee. And things progressed smoothly for a while from that point. Elliot stopped spitting up all over everything for a few minutes (which usually means he's hungry, so I fed him again), Oliver peacefully ate his Swedish cinnamon roll (which he'd been demanding for the past 10 minutes, since he heard the word), and Haakan and I giggled about how we'd narrowly skirted disaster with his father in the car that morning.
But then, as was bound to happen, our luck changed. Oliver was growing increasingly more and more restless since we finished or cinnamon rolls, and by the time we made it through security checkpoint number 2 (or 3, I've lost count), he'd begun a chorus of "Want to ride on an airplane? Want to ride on an airplane? Want to ride on an airplane?" that barely paused for breath between question marks. Our various other suggestions, "Do you want to read a story? Do you want to play with cars? Would you like some bunny crackers?" where all met with screams and near sobbing, then the eerily calm question "Want to ride on an airplane?" As this is going on, Oliver's been let off of Haakan's back and he proceeds to tear around the lounge where we're all trapped like proverbial lambs, tripping over everyone's feet and knocking down carry on bags. And oh so slowly, Haakan and I begin to lose our composure, which Oliver also senses and begins to also lose his. As I pry him off of the heating element under the window for the fifteenth time, I can see the looks of pity on people's faces, as if they are saying "Look at that poor frazzled woman. I hope I'm not sitting anywhere near them!"
As Oliver begins to really freak out and scream "WANT TO RIDE ON AN AIRPLANE!" as he sobs, Haakan picks him up and tries to comfort him. By this point Elliot had finally fallen asleep in the wrap, after much whining and settling of himself. And then, in a movement so quick there was nothing we could do to stop it, Oliver nearly threw himself from Haakan's arms and managed to head-butt Elliot with an audible thud. In a move that we pure reflex, my hand flew up and I pinged Oliver on the top of the head, saying "Don't you EVER do that again!" This got the attention of not just Oliver, who stopped crying for a few moments and looked at me very surprised, but also of everyone standing near us. I could almost hear their shock that they had seen me lose it and smack my two year old on the top of the head. People shuffled away from us slightly, as if fearing that they would be next to feel my wrath. A woman with her own toddler wandered over and pointed at the planes outside for her very contented child, perhaps hoping that I'd observe her excellent example of good parenting and repent for my evil ways. Or maybe it was just in my head as I fought back my own tears and appologized again and again to Oliver for having lost my temper so badly.
At about this same moment, one of the gate agents announces that the plane was late coming in from Philadelphia and is going to be late leaving, so it'll be at least another 20 minutes before we board. At the mention of the plane, Oliver goes into another chorus of "want to ride on an airplane!", but at least this time we're able to distract him with his toy airplanes and the promise that we'll ride on the airplane SOON.
A half hour later, we finally make our tired way onto the plane. By this point Elliot had woken up, but hadn't yet barfed on me since his last feeding, Oliver was in better spirits, and Haakan and I looked as if we were about to collapse into little puddles of poor parenting. And once seated, the flight attendant informs us that the audio visual stuff isn't working in our part of the plane, but she gives us free headphones anyway (for what, I'm not sure, since the only radio stations we had were muzak and the radio equalivant of the Home Shopping Network). The sneaky guy sitting diagonally behind us quickly leaped from his seat and immediately fell asleep across the empty row of seats behind us (vacated by a family who wisely decided that they really did need to be in a section of the plane that had a movie). And just as we took off, Elliot threw up on me not once, but twice, managing to absolutely saturate my sweater.
But amazingly, we did indeed make it home in one piece with most of our sanity intact (as well as our carseats - which, despite my best effords, were NOT gate checked and ended up thrown on the conveyers along with everything else) and hopefully, it will be a long long LONG time before we have to attempt another transatlantic flight with the kids. I'm thinking we'll just mail ourselves parcel post the next time.