Last time we met I was confidently doling out wise and helpful advice on traveling with young children based on my vast experience with the subject.
In retrospect, I perhaps should have known that preaching on all things Mom travel would pretty much GUARANTEE that things would not go smoothly as we took off for parts Texan.
But David and I had done so many flights with the kids that I guess we'd grown complacent. We'd just sort of forgotten that we were undertaking the near-impossible task of making our way halfway across the country with three children under four in tow, and that we needed to show the travel Gods some respect.
There are two options when timing one's trip to the airport:
- Leave early and risk having to manage three kids at the gate, desperately trying to prevent them from running under the feet of passengers dashing for their flights, leaping from the long rows of black seats to the consternation of their fellow passengers, and/or escaping in order to dash behind the counter at Starbucks to beg for pastries.
- Leave too late and risk missing your flight.
We choose option number B. We had a 1:00p.m. flight to Texas and we left the house at 11:15am. Which would have been fine if everything had gone exactly perfectly.
Everything did not go exactly perfectly.
It took us a few tries to load all the bags in the car. Then we caught a few too many red lights. Next it took us an extra couple of minutes to find parking. Then the shuttle which is usually waiting at the parking lot had gotten held up and was ever-so-slightly delayed. As we finally approached the terminal, the crush of cars at the drop-off delayed us yet again.
Nothing went terribly wrong, but enough things went not-quite-right that we found ourselves at the line to check-in around 12:05.
The line wasn't crazy but it was just long enough to worry me. As we humped our luggage and our children through turn after turn of the rat maze it occurred to me for the first time that we were in real danger of missing our flight.
I waved over a gate agent in smiley desperation:
"Hi, we're traveling with THREE little kids and wow, I really can't afford to miss this flight..."
Her weary gaze suggested that perhaps I should have thought about that before arriving at LAX 40 minutes before our flight was scheduled to depart.
We made it to the front of the line at 12:30. Our bags were tagged with the neon-green "LATE BAG" tags of shame, and we started our mad dash towards security (or as mad a dash as you can make with a reluctant three-year-old and two stroller-bound children in tow). In the security line, David and I spent some quality time engaging in a brief yet bitter debate on the subject of whose fault this all was. (SPOILER ALERT: HIS!!!!)
I finally made my way through the metal detector with the boys at around 12:40 and hope started to return...
...until I looked around to find that David and the baby were one machine over, still trapped in line behind an elderly woman with a 5-pound-jar of face cream and her friend who shall henceforth be known as "the lady of one million bracelets".
He finally made it through at 12:45 and the five of us made a mad dash to our gate (or as mad a dash as one can make with the aforementioned conditions complicated by the fact that the wheel of one of the strollers had now broken off in the X-ray machine).
We boarded our plane 6 minutes before takeoff. As I plopped sweaty and panting into my seat and settled the baby into my lap, I turned toward my husband with a white-hot glare:
"We are NEVER doing this again! That was HORRIBLE! Do you understand how terrible it would have been?! To be stuck at the airport for God only knows how many hours..."
David interrupted my rant to put his hand on mine:
"Honey, I would have had all that AND I would have been stuck with you. Believe me, I understand."
We held hands as the plane lifted skyward and repeated our mantra together:
"Never again. Never again. Never again."