The besuited men in business class recoiled as I walked past. A young couple watched in horror as I walked towards them, then visibly slumped with relief as I kept going. An older lady froze when she saw me, giving a small smile of pity, which didn’t reach her eyes. People were looking hopefully at the fat, sweaty man behind me because they figured he’d be a better travel mate than me. Me with the baby strapped to my chest and the toddler refusing to walk in a straight line in front of me. Together with my husband, trailing us with three exploding carry on bags, we were the four least desirable passengers on the plane.
The airline had kindly put us as far back in the plane as possible. Right next to the toilet, which was convenient given the half dozen times I’d need to go and change my children on a change table the size of an A4 folder which is clearly designed to remind mothers of their failure to potty train their too-tall toddler.
The air was fizzing with irritation and low expectations as we waited for takeoff. We were surrounded by people giving us serious side-eye, waiting for the inevitable melt down.
The toddler was the first to crack, squirming and squealing with indignation over his imprisonment. The huffs, puffs and sighs from my fellow passengers hit me in surround sound.
But this wasn’t our first rodeo. Those exploding carry-ons were filled with an arsenal of comfort and distraction. Snacks, bottles, toys, books, blankies… And the crown jewel, the iPad.
The toddler was handed the iPad and some milk. He snuggled down with a pillow and blankie and the transition to screen zombie was complete. Barely a sound was heard for the next couple of hours.
And the baby? Well all she needed was a boob and some warm arms and she was happy as a pig.
We walked off that plane victorious. Also relieved and quietly surprised but mostly victorious.
This post was written by Lauren Dubois of TheThud for ALDI but all of it is true – especially the bit about the sense of victory you get from avoiding an expected meltdown.