My children are experienced fliers. We have never lived close to my parents and always far enough away that driving is too overwhelming of a prospect. We've experienced it all: the fabulous flights of good moods and naps and the horrendous flights of screaming and kicking. Yes, I have had to restrain a child to protect our seatmate from physical abuse. I've fallen asleep and possibly let the blanket fall from my exposed boob. Still not sure about that one. I try to block it from my memory.
In all this flying I have only once experience true rudeness. I was once seated separately from my four year old daughter on a full flight. When we boarded (late), I asked a row of people if one would be willing to move one row back so I could sit with my preschooler. One of the three passengers glanced at me before instantly returning her eyes to her magazine. The other two ignored me. My face grew hot, and I tried again. No response. Fortunately, a flight attendant came to my rescue, and with some exasperation (at whom, I am really not sure) solved the problem.
But, aside from the passive-aggressive-yet-smiling offers of assistance from flight attendants when I have a screaming baby and the one who instructed me how to hold my infant, I generally find people go out of their way to be friendly and encouraging. They lift bags into overhead compartments and fold strollers on the jetway. A middle-aged woman is my first choice for a seatmate (if I must have one) because she's been there. She will probably be patient and may be willing to help entertain in a pinch. The nicest mother I ever came across made a point to say that I was doing a great job, and she'd be happy to hold my baby if I needed to take my preschooler to the bathroom. Yes, please! But anybody, parent or not, will stop a child trying to bolt. Let's face it, a mother traveling alone with two under five is an object of sympathy. And makes said mother think people may be good after all.
I was once traveling with a furious, writhing screamer who would.not.nurse, though she, I, and everyone else on the plane knew that was the solution. Carefully avoiding eye contact with my, no doubt, furious seatmates, I made every attempt to convince her nursing was her ticket to comfort and oblivion. Finally, I got her attention, she latched on, and got busy. The drink cart came by, and I ordered a beer. What can I say? I wanted a treat, and I also was hoping the alcohol would have some effect on the small one. I mime-whispered to the flight attendant that I could not reach my wallet without disturbing my infant, and she was perfectly happy to agree that I could pay her later. Much, much later, my infant solidly in the land of deepest sleeps, I retrieved my wallet. And the flight attendant waved me off. Angels among us.
We flew to Texas three days ago. It started out as a pretty good flight, became a pretty bad one, and descended into the worst of the worst during the descent and terribly prolonged holding pattern. Could it have possibly lasted twelve hours? It felt like twelve hours. I'm sure the crimson-haired hipster in front of us and the elderly Indian woman beside us felt like it lasted twelve hours. No doubt the white-bearded man behind us and the kind woman who picked up our fallen books were holding their noses and counting the minutes. I just kept whispering, "It's OK, we will land soon. Shhhh, shhhhh. I promise, it will be soon." At one point, I accidentally made eye contact with the Indian woman and she erupted into peals of laughter. I'm still not quite sure what that was about. It seemed neither heartless nor sympathetic.
But we did finally land. After a lengthy bathroom visit, we met up with my mother and were heading up to the parking garage via the elevator. Three ladies allowed us to enter first, and I happened to glance at the face of one of them. Was that Glennon? I'd better take another look.
It was! It was Glennon! Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery!
I tentatively asked, "Glennon?" She looked at me, raised her arms over her head, and screamed! And then gave me an enormous hug.
Yes, the Glennon Doyle Melton in person is exactly the same enthusiastic, funny, passionate Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery. It was enormous love fest, though I was miserably starstruck and tongue-tied as I always am before someone I admire. Did we really need to talk at length about the disappointment of being the shorter sister? And why did I make a fist the whole time we were together?
By the way, her sister has the same warm, friendly personality and is just as free with her hugs, though she is seven inches taller. The two of them make you feel like you were the very person they were hoping to see.
And, yes, I am pleased as punch to be in Texas and not the mid-Atlantic right now. Warm, warm Texas.