Thursday, February 26, 2009

Howdy From Texas!

We're alive!

No pictures this post, because while I brought my camera with me I neglected to bring the cable for the computer. I'm taking pictures, but until I find a way to upload them they'll have to sit on my camera.

So we survived our flight. Barely.

The trip to the airport was uneventful-- E's mom was gracious enough to give us a ride (Thanks!) and the two little ones made various ridiculous noises at each other in the back of the car while we chatted up front. Once we got to the airport, I hauled Connor and our obscene amount of stuff up to the line, checked our bag, and then headed over to security. That's where we hit our first snag.

I took Connor's shoes off, my shoes off, got out the multiple gallon plastic bags that contained all of Connor's medication and supplies, and prepared us to walk through. The lady at security looks at us, points to Connor's wheelchair, and says in the monotone fashion of someone repeating the same phrase for the 80,000th time:

"That needs to go up on the x-ray belt, ma'am."
My well-worded response was: "Um."

I'm eying the x-ray belt, and there is no possible way that Connor's wheelchair is going to fit through that tiny little area. I told her so, and she snapped:

"Well, doesn't your stroller fold up?"

I said that while my son's wheelchair folded a little bit, it wasn't going to fold up enough to fit through that space... and the second I said the word "wheelchair" her whole demeanor changed.

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry. I thought it was a stroller. Here, I'll take all of your stuff and run it through and you go right over there with that man, okay? He'll take care of you, sweetie. Bob? Can you take care of this cute little guy's wheelchair?"

Bob brought us over to the side. I told him that I could take Connor out of the chair for him, and he said:

"No! No that's fine. Here, just let me know if I'm making him uncomfortable at all and I'll stop."

He then patted Connor down very gently, took a quick look at the chair, and then helped us through. They got all of our stuff off the belt for us and offered to call someone to help us to the gate. I told them thanks, but we'd be fine. "Just let us know if we can do anything for you!" Bob said as we were leaving.

So we got to the gate and I went up to the desk. The lady behind the counter glanced up from her typing.

"Did you have a question?"
"Yes! I've never done this before, so I was wondering how the process works of getting my son on board."
"Well, we'll check your stroller at the gate. You can line up when they call for parents with children." She went back to her typing.
"Well, actually its his wheelchair, and-" Again apparently wheelchair was some kind of magic word.
"Oh! I'm sorry, I thought it was a stroller. Here, we'll get this all set up for you. I'll tag the pieces, and then they'll help you down first so you can get settled. They should have done this at the ticket counter for you! I'm so sorry!"
"I can carry him down, he's not very heavy."
"No, don't you worry about a thing. We'll take care of it." She then called the man who would be at the gate when we were boarding the plane to let him know about us, came out from behind the counter, tagged his chair, walked us over and got us settled at the gate, and told me to let her know if we needed anything at all.

They seated us first on the plane, before they even announced boarding. They set up Connor's car seat for us and stowed our luggage. The flight attendants sat us up at the very front where the leg room is, gave us lots of extra crackers, and offered to sit with Connor if I needed to use the restroom.

I'm thinking that part of this was probably airline policy, but I secretly thought it was kind of hilarious how the second people found out that Connor's (admittedly very stroller-like) wheelchair was in fact a wheelchair, all of the sudden we were elevated from just another parent and toddler duo lugging way too much equipment around to people who deserved star treatment. I'm not saying it wasn't nice, but it was sort of amusing.

The airport wasn't all fun and games, however. Connor finally pulled that right hearing aid out one too many times, and he ripped the tubing out of the earpiece. This is not something that I can just snap back into place. We will have to take a trip to the audiologist for this one, and that means he is without a hearing aid on the right side until I can get him an appointment. I wasn't very happy with him.

Of course, Connor wasn't very happy with me either, so I guess we were even. Getting on a plane, even if he's flown 16 times before, was not his idea of fun. He was okay for the flight to Albuquerque, but he started getting fussy while we waited on the tarmac to take off, and by the time we touched down again in Dallas he'd spent the last 45 minutes sobbing into my shirt. We stepped off the plane at a little bit past ten, I plunked him down in his wheelchair so I could carry the rest of the luggage, and he reacted as if I'd just set him down on a bed of nails. He was flinging himself from side to side in the wheelchair and crying so hard he broke out in hives. It was not exactly a triumphant entrance. He calmed down a little bit after a diaper change, but he was still pretty grumpy until he fell asleep at my parents' house sometime around 11:30 at night.

Today I discovered the reason for the grumpiness: somewhere along the route I must have switched children. I got on the plane with my darling, happy-go-lucky smiling child, and I landed with Mr. Crabbypants of the realm of Doom and Gloom. He spent all of today clinging to me like a limpet, and any time I set him down or ventured more than three feet from him he apparently thought I had Left Him Forever and the waterworks commenced. He did eat well, which is good, but right before bed he threw up all over himself and me, and then after I cleaned him and myself up he threw up again, this time mostly missing himself but scoring a direct hit down my bra. I'm now down to the shirt I'm wearing and a sweater, which since it hit eighty-something degrees today is not going to do me a lot of good. Good thing my parents have a washer and dryer. I believe I will be spending some quality time with them.

I'm praying that he'll perk up and not be so clingy tomorrow, since I'll be leaving him with my mother-in-law while I attend the wedding. If he has a day tomorrow like he did today she might not want to babysit for me ever again, and this would be a sad state of affairs. We'll see what happens.

I probably won't get a chance to blog tomorrow, but I'll let y'all know how the wedding went on Saturday!



Princess Abigail said...

Where did Connor go? Where did this new Mr Grump appear from?

Looking forward to hearing news of the good old Connor again soon ... travel is hard for the parents too, so let's hope you get lots of rest.

Having said that, I will confess, your post made me laugh a lot (not sure whether I should admit to that or not ...)

Julia O'C said...

I don't who I feel worse for - you or Connor!

I hope his demeanor improves and that you're able to enjoy the wedding.

Kara said...

The fact that you have the guts to fly alone with a toddler has me in complete awe. So I'm glad to hear you got the royal treatment on the flight - you deserve it!

Hope you have a wonderful visit with your family!

Lin said...

I'm so glad that you received the treatment that you did with Connor and his wheelchair/stroller. Isn't that nice that people ended up being so helpful? In this day, it isn't uncommon to find jerks in such situations, so I'm glad there was plenty of kindness going around.

Hope Connor gets back to feeling more like himself and you can all have fun again.

Ellen said...

Hi! I hope the wedding was great, you sure deserve a good time. Sorry to hear that Connor's inner grump came out, maybe being in a new setting wigged him out. Duh.

I am glad you got the help you needed at the airport. I think that airport personnel can get kind of jaded, a lot of parents of kids with typically-functioning kids sometimes make the biggest deal about getting strollers through security!

I agree with Kara, it takes a lot of guts to fly alone with a toddler, let alone one who has special needs.

Laura said...

I had to smile when I read this one. We were living in New Delhi when Gene was a baby, and in those days we had running water only an hour a day. That hour was before dawn, so we had tanks to collect the water as it came, and then we rationed it throughout the day. Also in those days, I had long hair-- long, long, below-the-waist hair. One time Gene was unhappy and I picked her up to cuddle her on my shoulder. She promptly threw up, copiously, into my hair. Who knew such a little a baby could hold so much yuck? My hair was drenched with puke and there was no water to clean it. Undeterred by common sense or anything else, I stood in my kitchen and emptied the day's drinking water over myself. It was stupid and selfish but at that instant I thought, I am a Texas woman. I must have clean hair.

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