flying the less friendly skies

After flying solo with the three kids last week, I think Lynn Harris may have gotten it right in Salon: Everyone Hates Mommy.

I have flown with the kids on my own a bunch of times, and I must say they are excellent and seasoned travelers. The boys know they want Channel 42 on JetBlue as soon as they sit down; Maggie is ready with her pink-frosted animal crackers order as soon as she sees the flight attendant coming. It has been about six months since I flew with the kids, though, and I noticed a definite chill in the air compared to trips past.

The first sign of trouble was the new dedicated “family line” at security. Ostensibly, this is for travelers who need “extra assistance,” although none is provided. OK, I know some traveling families are clueless, and need “extra time” (read: a clue). But not us. My kids and I are pros: as we approach the security checkpoint, even the two-year-old gets her own shoes off while I whip out my laptop and Ziploc bags. We slow no one down. This time, though, we had to stand there holding our shoes for ten minutes while the dad in front of us tried repeatedly to push his son, in his stroller, through the metal detector. Repeated exhortations from the TSA agent that the stroller would have to be folded went ignored, since, well, neither of the child’s parents knew how to do that. Were I not herding three increasingly impatient young children, I would have just done it myself, but since I could not, I watched the people behind me when they presented their photo ID far, far in the distance, breezing off to their gates.

Putting all the families in one line, and doing nothing to help expedite that line, just stinks, in my opinion. Far better to have a dedicated line for “I Have Not Flown Since 9/11,” and another, express line, reading “I (and my children) Do This All the Time.” The way it stands now, despite our extreme efficiency, we had to run for our plane.

My kids were great on the plane, as always, and the only real problem was when we were all getting ready to deplane and I realized that I could not carry my laptop/backpack, our enormous carryon of books, toys, diapers, and snacks, Maggie’s car seat/stroller (that cannot fit down the newly narrowed airplane aisles), AND Maggie. I used to stick Maggie in the sling and manage it all, but she’s two now. And a nice flight attendant helped me carry one of these bags on, but she wasn’t around. Maggie had to walk off the plane herself, behind her brothers, me bringing up the rear. At first she was, understandably, hesitant. “Go ahead, sweetie!” I coaxed, a little desperately, so we wouldn’t piss off the people behind us. At that, she broke into a sudden run for the jetway doors.

Two flight attendants watched her run toward the large-ish gap between the airplane and the jetway, large enough for her to fall partially into. “Watch your step,” they said. She, being TWO, did not understand what they were getting at. “Watch your step,” the other said, about five percent louder, at which point I did one of those superhuman mom things and found a third hand to grab her by the scruff of the neck just as she was about to fall into the hole.

Maybe this isn’t mother-hate, exactly, but I ask you this:

1) If this were a dad struggling off the plane with his kids’ stuff, would these same flight attendants not be falling all over themselves to help?

2) If this were an elderly person about to trip and fall over the same step, would the flight attendants have kept filing their nails, or would they have quickly rendered assistance?

3) If there is a chance of a child injuring herself by falling partially into that hole– or God forbid, all the way through– would not the airline want to prevent that, if there was an easy step they could take to assist?

The snarky trolls out there, fanning the flames, could well see this post and say “Who asked you to breed? Stay home if you can’t handle them!” To which I would say, actually, I did handle them, without any assistance, actually, and will continue to do so. I just wonder if this slackening of courtesy means anything.

Santa is watching


As soon as Thanksgiving week arrives, I call open season on the whole “I think I just saw an elf peeking in the window!” thing. I will use this tactic to improve my children’s behavior shamelessly, and endlessly, from now until Christmas Day. I only wish that I could hold the whole “Santa is watching” trope, and his imminent arrival, over my kids’ heads for the other eleven months a year.

I have been a little sad this November because Santa is on the endangered list in our house. Connor is in first grade, and I swear to God, if I hear one more of his classmates at the bus stop mouthing off to the other youngsters that there’s no such thing as Santa, I’m going to lose it. I figured it out by the time I was 6, so I have been accepting that Connor has moved beyond it. But Seamus is TOO YOUNG to overhear this bus stop gossip, and I am too dependent on the Santa threat to lose it just yet. Plus, this is the first year Maggie understands the whole Santa thing in the first place.

Anyway. We are in Florida this week, on a little Thanksgiving getaway, and hanging out by the pool while the turkey browns inside is a pretty nice way to do things, I must say. Maggie was really cranky about something or other yesterday morning, though, and I was not feeling the holiday spirit; she was working my last nerve. That was when I looked out the back window and saw a man with a white beard putting bug spray all over the bushes.

“Oh my goodness, is that Santa outside?” I squealed.

The three kids ran out on the back porch to investigate. “Mom. Is that REALLY Santa?” Connor whispered to me, and I gave him a wink and a smile and a mouthed “No.” Silly. He was an exterminator, obviously. This was just to get Maggie off topic.

Connor peered at him through the deck railings, then nodded to himself. “His belly is a little small. But I’m pretty sure it’s really him,” he said.

This was a shocker. I was certain Connor had stopped believing, and was just keeping up appearances on the off chance it WASN’T me buying all the presents under the tree. I had to spin my own opinion back to the side of plausibility. “Well, if it WERE Santa,” I hedged, “it would sure be a good disguise. No one would ever expect to see him looking like that. Plus, it’s a good way to peek inside all the houses in this neighborhood.”

The man finished, and saw us all watching him intently as he turned to leave. “Y’all have a good Thanksgiving,” he said, and departed with his spraying tool. It was not until he turned to go that I saw his yellow-ish ponytail, hanging halfway down his back. It had about fifteen ponytail holders on it, at closely-spaced intervals. It was not, shall we say, a Santa look.

“That was DEFINITELY him,” Connor breathed. “Bye, Santa!” Maggie called after him, and I was only moderately embarrassed. Hey, I’ve gotten two relatively blissful days of good behavior ever since. Thanks, Santa!

why the mother hate?


There’s a great article up on salon.com by Lynn Harris (an old college friend): Everybody Hates Mommy. Lynn’s POV is that there’s an increasing intolerance– OK, hate– towards mothers, and mothering, and all the “space” we are supposedly taking up that belongs to other people. Oy, Lynn, I am with you, though for me, it’s more about the eye-rolling. I attended a book launch party last week, hosted by a parenting website, and this guy turns to me at the bar and says, “So, what’re you? A mommy blogger?” Mere italics cannot really get across the dripping-with-revulsion vibe he gave this particular term. I said, “Um, yes, actually, and I’m very good at it.”

I mean, are you kidding me? This was for a parenting book, hosted by a parenting website. Parenting websites would have nothing to print if they dismissed all “mommy bloggers” out of hand. If you don’t like mom blogs, don’t read them, but seriously, don’t give me attitude in a room that was crawling with mothers who write. Why did this guy think that was OK?

Read Lynn’s article. I hear the hate baiters are out in full force on the comments section, so I’m skipping that part… I can’t enjoy them anymore ever since the crazy hose was turned on me full blast back in April. (I mean I read YOUR comments, of course, but usually, no one is telling me that my children– then 6, 4, and 1– should put me in a home.)

How about you? Do you think there is increasing disdain and impatience for mothers? Is it merely a backlash to our increasing volume on the internet, or is there more going on?

(photo taken from salon.com article)

house rules

A few weeks ago, at utter wits’ end with my squabbling children, I sentenced them to sit down and write some house rules which we would post in our kitchen, to peruse at mealtimes. To my surprise, this was not really a punishment. The boys have taken to this idea with great gusto, add to it freely, and at this point, the rules have taken over half our kitchen.

Here, now, our House Rules.

No Teasing. Note the sad face of the person being teased, at bottom.

No Biting. Note the blood.

No Pulling on Shirts. Too many stretched-out collars around here. And, oh yeah, the possibility of strangulation.

No TV till 6:30. This is counterintuitive, but if the kids can’t put the TV on while it’s still dark outside, they might actually stay in bed. Note the cable box reading “6:02” and the large NO.

Do Not Take Things Out of Maggie’s Hand. We’re getting a little specific here, but if that rule were followed there’d be a lot less bloodcurdling screaming around here.

Really, though, if you’re going to follow any rule at all, stick with this one.

No Drilling Your Sister.

Words to live by.