Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Bless the Rains Down In Africa 2.0

To celebrate my one year anniversary of writing for the fantastically hilarious I am reposting the article was most fun for me to write. I added a few new bits and pieces for the occasion.

I Bless the Rains Down in Africa

“I loved traveling with my kids!” A business man next to me says as me and my two kids wait in line at airport security.
I look for signs of a stroke, but he seems to just be a fucking insane person. I smile and move along peeling my four year old Frankie off the stanchion pole. I take inventory for the hundredth time this morning. Diapers. Wipes. Snacks. Movies. My computer. Books. Coloring book. Crayons. CDs. Old Disc-man. Changes of clothes. Sippy cups. Child one. Child two. Got em. It’s my first solo trip with my love monsters and I’m a bit freaked. But I am as prepared as I can be. I can do this.
“ ‘Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie’,” Frankie says to the woman behind us.
Frankie has been quoting A Christmas Story and singing Deck the Halls at the top of her lungs since we arrived to LAX. It’s March. I’m thinking this is her nervous tick. Zoe, my little zen Buddha baby, is cool as a cucumber.
We make it through security, our first hurdle, just fine. Except for the fact that it’s really hard to close up a stroller and lift it onto the conveyor belt of the x ray machine one handed while holding a 18 month old and everyone around you acts like they don’t see you struggling. I think it might be against policy for TSA workers to be courteous human beings.
We get to our gate armed with happy meals. The kids are... happy. Content. Staying in one place. Frankie downs her milk. Zoe eats all her food. This is going well!
“Okay, time for the bathroom stop before we get on the plane,” I announce. Frankie scrunches up her face momentarily, but then gives in.
“Okay!” She says.
We go to the bathroom, cram ourselves, stroller and all, into the handicapped stall and she sees the toilet.
“NO!!!!! It’s the magical potty!” She screams.
Ever since she used one of those automatic flushing toilets, she is deathly afraid of them. I don’t blame her. They sound like jet engines and seem to have the vacuum power of a black hole.
But I have an idea. We go to the family bathroom. Perfect. There’s a little potty just like the one at her preschool. This is where things really go to shit. I am in a full on wrestling match with a four year old forcing her pants down and trying to make her pee. I scream. I beg. I plead. Nothing. Zoe looks on amused. I even call Papa, “MAKE HER GO!”
He helplessly talks to her, but there’s no use. The public bathroom is not happening. I take a deep breath. Okay, let it go. When she’s got to go. She’ll go.
We board the plane after waiting an excruciating thirty minutes (Note to self: Getting to the airport too early with kids is worse than having to rush. “Look at that trashcan! Is that a toy?? What’s that man doing? What’s that girl eating? Girl, what are you eating? Lady can I touch your shoe? Oh look she has a princess backpack!” Can someone say overstimulation? ). I hope we have the row to ourselves, but no. A older man sits next to us. I scrutinize his face. I’m dying to use my line on that passenger that gives me the “I have to sit next to two kids” look: If you didn’t want to take public transportation then maybe you shoulda chartered that jet. But he sits down pleasantly.
“ ‘A crumby commercial? Son of a bitch!’ “ Frankie quotes another classic Christmas Story line to the man.
The man chuckles. I actually feel a little sorry for him. This guy doesn’t even know what he’s in for.
I can’t seem to get anything organized. Everything Frankie wants she can’t have. Zoe is smearing her breakfast bar all over my jeans and to make me more annoyed the flight attendants start their spiel. Okay, let me say this. You can’t make up for being a shitty airline with lame humor. That’s like giving permission for the shittery. Oh there’s nothing to eat and my legs are scrunched up to my armpits forming blood clots, but that bit with the seatbelt was so cute. So it’s cool. No way. Let’s just face the reality that this is not going to be the greatest four hours of our lives and joking about the pilots lack of experience is not making me feel any better.
Finally we are at cruising altitude and Frankie can use her approved electronic devices. Let the attention span of a gnat commence immediately. She watches about five minutes of a movie before she wants to watch another one. She loses all her crayon in the first fifteen minutes. She launches her hair band into the row ahead of us. And Zoe, officially the laziest baby in the world who would lay in my lap all day at home if I let her, all of sudden wants her freedom. Not to mention she flings her sippy cup and lambie into the aisle every chance she can get. Bet the guy next to me didn’t know he be on baby crap retrieval duty, did he?
I look at the time. Three and half hours to go.
“Mama, I got to go potty,” Frankie says.
“All right let’s do this,” I say.
I make this nice man next to me get up (I’m sure he could use a few minutes away from crazy town) and make our way to the bathroom. I jam all three of us into it which is comical in itself.
“NO!” She proclaims.
And once again I’m in a wrestling match with my four year old only this time we have no space to thrash and I’m holding Zoe who once again coos with delight. We pour out of the bathroom and go back to our seat. I am livid.
This happens two more times.
We even have the whole front section of the plane chanting: “You can do it! You can do it!”
A woman with sad sparkling eyes says,” I just went it was awesome!”
A man who seemed to be giving the “van down by the river” speech ended with “It’s so cool to go on a plane!”
Frankie rolled her eyes. Dude, she’s four. She’s not an idiot.
We come back to our seats the third time and I am defeated.
“Are you doing okay?” The flight attendant asks me sweetly.
I want to scream at her, “NO! Take them. Do you guys have a playroom I could throw them in? And by playroom I mean, baggage area. Dogs are their right? So it’s okay. They love dogs.”
But instead I say, “ ‘Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.’ “ I couldn’t help myself. She just looks at me confused and walks away. She must have skipped the day in flight attendant school when they watched Airplane.
I really wish I could get lost in a Toto song right now. I could be in the middle of a nuclear holocaust and Africa would bring joy to my melting heart.
I watch Frankie squirm in her seat. She has to go. Bad.

Its gonna take a lot to take me away from you...
There nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do...

She is squeezing her legs shut. Dammit why did I let her guzzle that milk!

I bless the rains down in Africa...
Gonna take some time to do the things we never ha-ha-ha-ha- ha- have...

We’re in our final decent. I make peace with the fact that it’s going to happen. We land and pull up to our gate which of course is not ready yet. The man next to me jumps away from his seat. He knows.
“Mama,” She pleads looking at me with big eyes. I want to cry. I flash back to when I was a kid and I peed my pants at Disney world.
“Oh sweetie. Just go babe,” I say. I shove Zoe’s blanket under her dress. A full minute later she is relieved. I go into survival mode. Change her clothes. Pile up the pee soaked ones. No plastic bag, but who cares at this point. We exit plane. I have breakfast bar in my hair. I’m covered in spit, pee and boogers. You might think it would be hard to retain my M.I.L.F. title, holding pee soaked clothes but judging by the guy’s face in 13B I’m going to go ahead and say I rocked that shit anyway. Hey I’m smiling. I made it. Soon I can relax my hold on my wild child, set down my now clingy baby and have a beer.
The flight back was much better. Frankie wore a pull-up and I got her a giant bag of popcorn that kept her busy for awhile. I dosed Zoe with some Benadryl and tethered her sippy cup and lambie to the arm rest. Pretty smooth sailing. There were only two snafus. One, Zoe stole a tee shirt from a store at the airport and I didn’t notice until I was folding up the stroller at the end of the jetway. She was quite proud of herself. It wasn’t even a cute shirt. And two, we were delayed about ten minutes because some jackass didn’t want to put on his seatbelt. Man, I got stolen goods on board. I even got a few minutes with my Ipod and had some alone time with Toto. I didn’t even cringe when the pilot landed and said, “Weeeeeeee folks! We finally made it. Now I’m going to take what’s left of the plane back to the terminal.”