If you know much about me, you know that I sometimes take on crazy challenges. With kids in tow. If you’ve read the “Road Trip” blog, you know that at Christmas I drove all 5 kids over a thousand miles in one day, by myself. It went great! If you know anything about me, you know that I operate fairly well under pressure, perhaps even excel, as if I need that sometimes to feel challenged. I keep calm in emergencies. I become more and more level headed the more difficult the task. Perhaps missing a flight isn’t the end of the world, and the smaller things in life can really throw me for a loop.
So when I drove the kids to the airport the other evening so the 3 older ones could spend spring break with their grandparents, I figured it would be a breeze. I wasn’t even going to have to take the 2 little boys! Sheesh! Easy Peasy! Our plans oscillated back and forth a bit as we had an earlier appointment, and the “who” of which adult would be driving them kept changing. But we settled on me driving them, and my wife taking the 2 little boys home after our appointment. I knew time would be a bit tight, but we had time to feed them before taking off. I like to get to the airport early, and build in this time. This time it would be tighter, but nothing to sweat. Ahhh….should have known!
So the drive to the airport around these parts is a mere hundred fifty miles or so. It takes about 2-2.5 hrs to drive there. We left at 4:45pm from a town about 50 miles closer to make their 8:15pm flight. Plenty of time! UNTIL…traffic. For just over 40 miles. No biggie. I was starting to sweat a bit. Trying to keep cool. Our #2 is a little worrier, and a questioner, so for at least half the trip I was inundated with frantic questions about missing the flight. Or how much longer. Or how many more miles. Or how much time will we have to get there. Our firstborn covered the pauses in the interrogation with “geez! At this rate it will take 12 hours to get to the airport. Guess we won’t be going.” Well, the good news is he’s a math whiz. Which fueled #2’s stress greatly. And mine, if I’m being honest. I’m still keeping my cool. We’ll be fine guys. We’ll get ‘er done.
The other half of the trip I was inundated with questions of the likelihood of the plane crashing. Could there be survivors? What is the percentage of planes that crash? I pride myself on my kick-ass mom skills. I also like to be honest, “Sweetie, if your plane crashes, you wouldn’t want to survive. Trust me.” And “I think 20% of planes crashing is a little high. Don’t quote me but I’m sure it’s better chances than that. Like 0.000001% or so.” And my personal favorite, as we are in big city interstate traffic, “We have a much higher chance of getting in a car accident.”
By the time we arrived, we were at T-minus 75 min. Perfect! We can do this! They recommend an hour ahead. (Which I have no idea why, as they begin boarding the plane at T-minus 45 minutes.) There was a long line to check in, and I was starting to panic, especially as every one of the 25 ticket agents had a sign saying “express check in ONLY! Must have boarding passes in hand.” I did not have their boarding pass in hand as my phone wouldn’t access it. This was more a panic in my mind as luckily the line moved fluidly and the agents apparently didn’t know that the signs above their heads said that. They apparently also didn’t know that they had signs all over saying, “ask me how to get through security FAST!” Oooh! Definintely asking that! Turns out the answer is “I’m not sure”.
So, now this part I was getting frazzled so wasn’t thinking. I’m also an assumer (that people know what they’re doing) and I don’t ask questions. She didn’t even ask for my ID, but got the kids all set up. I figured, hmm, that part must have changed, guess I just need my ID to get them to the gate. We headed to security to get in another long line. The line was also moving fast, so I felt pressed but still A-OK! The kids were bugging me about security and I explain that they check the bags and see what’s inside. This is where #3 informs me she packed some crafts to do on the plane (she’s a planner!), including scissors. Ah. We spent the next 20 minutes in the security line with #3 in a mortified tizzy that all people in the airport will learn her mistake, and her older brother making sure she knew how stupid that was. Thankfully for him there were so many people around as witnesses, and he is still alive at this juncture. We also avoided full bag and body checks by finding a garbage to dispose of the weapon before we had to confess. We finally got to the TSA agent that scans the ticket. A trainee of course. Who did his job VERY, VERY carefully. And slowly. Then informed me I just needed to go back to the ticket counter to get a gate pass. Sure, no probs! After asking if I would be able to cut the line when I got back, I set the kids aside and SPRINTED, (This is why we exercise people. For these real life events.), back, having to run up the down escalator in a long skirt and knee high boots. At this point didn’t care about looking like a jack-ass and cutting to the front of the line to get one. After taking an extra 5 minutes explaining to the ticket agent that we were DEPARTING, not ARRIVING, I got my pass and sprinted back to the children.
T-minus 20 minutes: We got back in line to go through the X-ray machine. The security guards were trying to help and let us go through the old-school machine so we could be on our way, when an airport worker cut in front of us to check in for the day. He tried to go through the X-ray machine with his keys, his lanyard around his neck, and 2 coats on. He wasn’t too concerned about getting back on the job so leisurely began removing coins, keys, coats and everything else out on to the belt. Second almost-murder of the evening avoided due to the crowd of witnesses. Thankfully I caught the eye of the guard waiting on the other side of the machine and motioned for us to go around this super motivated employee.
T-minus 15 minutes: Come on kids! We’re running to the train! Oh good, our concourse is the last stop!
T-minus 10 minutes: Run kids, run!
T-minus 8 minutes: Arrive at the gate to find it closed. The agent at the desk assured me that they would come back for them! SUCCESS!!!! We waited at the door for them to come back. By this time about 7 other people also arrived hoping to board. Finally the agent came and allowed people to board. The 7 other people (adults over the age of 40), pushed past the 3 children to make sure they got on! Really people? They are letting you on the plane! There’s no rush. You have a ticket. They are holding the plane. There’s no chance they won’t let you on at this point. You are only dozens of steps away from the actual plane. You are an adult. They are small children travelling alone. Did I mention they were adults?
By the time I watched the plane pull away, I was a hot mess. I’m not used to feeling that way! I guess time crunches do stress me out. But by then I could barely stand watching them leave. I was the blubbering mom at the airport. The rest of their trip was blissfully uneventful. The irony is that they land across the country before I make the whole drive home from the airport. This trip was not my finest moment. I know, I typically look like Wonder Woman in these cases, but hey, I can’t be a rock-star ALL the time! 😉