Thursday, April 06, 2006

Flight from Baby Hell

We spent a little over 24 hours traveling yesterday (or was it today?). Seville to Madrid to Chicago to Seattle should not have taken so long, but there were big layovers at each stop. Oh well, we got to spend our last Euros on duty free meats and cheeses, and some tiny bottles of Spanish saffron.

The Madrid to Chicago leg was 9 1/2 hours long, and there was not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE babies in our area of the plane, none of whom had their own seat. One couple had the mother holding a newborn and the father holding an about 18 month-old boy. There was a big hullabaloo before take-off, apparently because only certain aisle seats have an extra oxygen mask that deploys in an emergency, that the baby can wear. There was much agitated and animated discussion (all in Spanish) as they tried to arrange passengers, and some disgruntled people who were forced to change seats.

Don't get me wrong: I love babies, and these were all so cute, except for this devil of an 18 month-old boy who essentially screamed and tantrummed almost the entire flight. Not a little quite cry or whimper, mind you. But a full out howl, with arching of his back and his voice going from hoarse and jagged to piercing and lancinating in an instant. His father and mother could do nothing to console him. Neither could any of the flight attendants or other mothers on the flight. I felt for the poor parents, and for the poor passengers sitting in the seats closest to them. (The child's favorite position seemed to be up on his father's shoulder, howling into the faces of the people seated right behind them). Occasionally the father would take the child back to the lavatory, and we would get a few moments peace.

He did not seem to have an earache, as there was no tugging at ears, and a nurse on the flight tried some auralgan ear dops (a pain relief drop you can instill in the ear canals(note to self: pack this on next trip)) to no effect. The kid just looked like he was tantrumming, and that he was used to doing this. I wished that I had had some of Dean's liquid benadryl to put the kid to sleep with. And I was tempted to offer a quarter pill of xanax for them to crush into the monster's sippy-cup, but my better judgement won out. Dean and I finally put on headphones for a while and watched "Good Night, and Good Luck" (which is really a very good movie BTW). What is most amazing is the other babies all were quiet and slept, or just looked on peacefully the whole fight. Which is a miracle in itself, as usually one howler can often set off a whole nursery.

Later, in Chicago, as we were waiting in the lounge area outside the gate for our connecting flight to Seattle, having gin & tonics and a burger, we suddenly heard that all-too-familiar howl, and there was the family, with their evil child, walking toward our gate! Dean and I looked at each other in horror, thinking: No. This. Cannot. Be. Happening. And it wasn't. They moved on to another poor flight. I think it was to Cleveland, of all places.

Home now and slept like a baby (no pun intended). We had a terrific time in Spain. But, as I said to Dean this morning as we woke up in our own bed, robins just starting to chirp and tulips coming up below the blossoming pear tree outside our window: "Isn't the best part of vacation the coming home?"

Some pics later . . .


Ivy said...

Welcome back!

Radish King said...

Welcome home, sweetheart!

Laine said...

Welcome home, gentlemen, and thank you for sharing your pictures!

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the posting the pictures, and hope you'll post more.

Collin said...

That howling baby story brought back shudders of horror from similiar trans-Atlantic flights. have much more patience than I.

Welcome back and thanks for posting the beautiful photos! Oh, and ordering "Slow To Burn." You should have it in a few days. :)


jeannine said...

Glad you are home safely and the pictures are all so beautiful. And I feel for you on the howler story.