I got a good fare, so I flew Virgin Airlines this Thanksgiving. It wasn’t my first choice for air travel, mainly because of the fashion restrictions. In case you didn’t know, you pay a penalty if you’re not wearing an article of black clothing, Buddy Holly glasses, Uggs, or sporting light facial hair. Bright colors are discouraged because they clash with the club lighting. So you can imagine my horror when I arrived seat 11C and found 11B and 11A occupied by a mother and her INFANT CHILD. Are you kidding!? An infant on an airline reserved for for the sole use of the terminally hip!? Why weren’t they flying Southwest, the Greyhound bus with wings? Or United, the airline for the recently born and the recently exhumed? I didn’t squeeze into my navy skinny jeans so I could suffer five hours of puking and crying!
I put in my ear buds, hunkered down and prepared for the worst. But as we winged East, I got pulled into the little drama next to me. The mother nursed her son, staring adoringly at him. Then she put him in his baby seat and dangled a yellow bird. He was riveted, twitching and gurgling. And when she picked him up and sang softly to him, he returned her adoring stare.
And I wondered…Was I that connected with my sons on the multiple flights we took when they were young? Flying with young children ranks in the top ten of Parenting-Experiences-You-Want-to-Be-Over-Quickly, right up there with a 24 hour bug, and a school play in which your children are not participating, but this woman seemed to be living every in-flight moment with her young son.
I remember making tray table forts, sharing bags of skittles, visiting that amusement park in the sky, the lavatory, and feeling their weight as they finally fell asleep four minutes before we landed. But I also remember just marking time, checking my watch, counting the exhausting minutes until the plane landed so we could get on with our vacation.
If that mother in 11a saw me back then, would she see the connection that I now see between her and her tiny son in 11b?