Sky-High Fun with Airplanes

How do you prepare your kids for an international flight?

You don’t.

While getting ready to leave our backyard this summer, the following has occurred to me:

Are We There Yet?

If there are going to be any mid-Atlantic meltdowns, I can’t exactly press a button to discreetly exit at the next bus stop. Fits can’t really last for 8.5 hours, so eventually someone will simply move on, mope and return to her seat, belt fastened. I was, of course, referring to myself. My kids, on the other hand, will be fine.

In Movies we Trust…and Discount Palm Trees

Long flights offer plenty of entertainment for kids. From the wonders of the “walk-in kitchen” with all-night snacks, to the acrobatics of going potty in an impossibly small lavatory, it’s never a bore.

My personal favorite is the sky mall catalog. Offering four-foot tall, swaying plastic palm trees at a discount is intriguing under normal circumstances. Why anyone would decide to actually purchase one 35,000 feet above the Atlantic is endlessly fascinating to me. It’s a smorgasbord of oddities.  

Then there’s the in-flight entertainment. A reclined seat in front of you makes for challenging movie watching on a small screen that tends to move at the whim of said seat’s occupant, but for my kids it’ll be something new, making even trusted Disney re-runs an adventure high above the ocean.

Alas, even Mickey can only distract for so long; then you wrap yourself up in a shedding, scratchy blanket and pretend to catch some restorative sleep before landing in another time zone in time for breakfast (aka 2am in your head), covered in blue blanket fibers.    

Past Lessons Learned…and Promptly Suppressed

Luckily my guys are older now, easier to reason with and much more patient, I hope, than I usually am on such flights. Our upcoming trip will be a breeze, crooning coconut trees and wool blankets included.

Our last trip was two years ago. The jet lag and subsequent four days of altered sleep patterns were a cakewalk compared to the landing, when I served as my then toddler’s restraining seatbelt device. Upon landing, the captain announced that the boring 8-hour flight got a bit exciting toward the end — a comment I promptly interpreted as referring to my toddler, who gave everyone an earful way beyond steerage economy.

“Hallelujah,” (or maybe some less positive exclamations), must have been on everyone’s mind at the time. I have never seen people move so fast away from us and try to avoid eye contact once we had landed.

Long before that flight, before little brother came along, I took my daughter on the same trip. Too excited to take a nap on the way over to Europe, we set out to make friends. Eight hours later, we knew the sweet grandmother in seat 54, the newly-weds in 30, and the exasperated elder gentleman who immediately asked the flight attended to be reseated (away from us!) once we had reached cruising altitude.

Am I ready to do it all over again, eager to forgo sleep, embrace crankiness and glare at hundreds of strangers all at once while pulling suitcases and holding on to two kids through customs? You bet!

Once my German relatives welcome the fried-three-of-us in Frankfurt, it’ll all be worth it!

(And two weeks of downtime is long enough to briefly forget about having to do it all over again on the way home.)

Marion Kase is a Berks County, PA mom of a preschooler and a 4th grader. This post was adopted from her blog, Helicopter-Caterpillar.

Categories: MomSpeak