Long before I was a father I decided I had absolutely no interest in flying with an infant. It always seemed like the parent trying to quiet their child under the glare of their fellow passengers would rather pop the emergency exit and take their chances with the free fall. No thank you.
So since my son has been born he’s flown many, many times. Frankly, I’ve lost count, and I applaud my wife for surviving the recurring madness. However, I have only taken one flight with the two of them and it established airports and airplanes as places where new and exciting things can happen with your child.
When we all flew a couple of months ago my son wasn’t walking yet. He’d stand up, sway like a drunken sailor, and fall to the floor with a spine-shattering violence. Then crawl away at a speed which defied logic. So, as we waited to board, our little man was crawling around a bit. He found an empty bit of carpet and stood up. And people noticed.
Then he tried to take a step, with much swaying and falling over. But he kept trying. Standing. Falling. Stepping. Swaying. And before long it only took a cursory glance around the terminal to see a good number of people watching our little guy try and walk.
And walk he did. Right there in the Southwest Boarding Area of the Salt Lake City Airport. He stood up and defined the term toddler as he tromped around in circles. I actually heard “ohs” and quiet applause when he put it all together.
I was awash in thoughts and feelings about this moment. Of course, I was damn proud of the little guy. And I enjoyed the irony of sharing this very personal family moment with a horde of other people.
But I kept thinking that he’d been able to stand for weeks. He’d toyed with the idea of walking and never really dedicated himself to making it happen. He waited. Then, when he had a captive audience… showtime!
Which means he’s like his Mom.
By the time we got to his latest plane-ride, walking had become a well refined part of his life. The downside is that sitting still is now deemed completely unacceptable and he wants to walk everywhere he can… right now. My wife took on the task of flying with him anyway, and I watched her pack things to try and keep him occupied instead of climbing the seat in front of him.
A portable DVD player has made him an easy-going car traveler, so she packed the player and a set of noise-cancelling headphones for the plane. I scoffed at this, because even though he likes to watch “the glowy box” in any form, he won’t leave anything on his head for more than 30 seconds. And he has a bad habit of dropping or throwing anything which begins to bore him.
When they landed I got this picture from my wife:
He sat for more than an hour and watched his DVDs. Meaning my wife had one of her least stressful plane rides with the little guy. And again I was awash in thoughts on this moment.
Yes, I was proud of him again. And the picture made me laugh. Then there was the thought that we’ve done him a great favor by helping him engage with screens at such a young age. The whole world is screens anyway. Or… maybe we’ve scarred him for life… Anyway, no matter what, the kid was stuck in a boring situation and was perfectly content to kick back and watch a movie.
Which means he’s like his Dad.
This is your in-flight entertainment. But fasten your seat-belts. It’s gonna get bumpy.