Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This is Bean and me playing "dragons" before my last race.  After the last day we've had, I needed to remind myself that we do occasionally have a lot of fun together!
Yesterday, December 27th, I traveled alone with both kids.  The Beast was going to a conference, and I was going to visit (more) family.  A-Train and I were sick.  Bean hadn't taken a nap the day before and had gone to bed at about 10PM.  A-Train had been restless and overtired and hadn't fallen asleep until more like 10:30.  We left the hotel at about 6:50AM.

Bottom line:  nobody had gotten enough sleep and A-Train was also not feeling well (neither was I, but who cares about Mom, right?)

We got to the airport and The Beast helped me get our ridiculous amount of luggage checked.  He rode in the elevator to drop us at security and continued down to go over to a different terminal to catch his flight.

As we got off the elevator and said goodbye to The Beast, another traveler said "You have courage!"

"Me?"  I asked.

"Oh yes.  Saying goodbye to Daddy and traveling with the two little ones?  Very brave!"

"Oh it'll be ok.  This time I have a stroller to restrain the little one.  Last time they had lost my stroller by the time I was on my own, and it was a nightmare."  Strike one, Brea.  You just jinxed yourself thinking this is all going to be ok!

So we get to security.  Bean proudly hoists his new rolling backpack up onto the table and I get everything situated to go through the x-ray.  I tell Bean to head on through the metal detector, which he does confidently. 

It beeps.

I realize he has his new toy Southwest Boeing 737-300 in his hand.  The TSA agent is telling him to head back through.  This is not the usual.  This is not what Bean expects.  He's agitated.  Uh oh...

So he comes back through and a TSA agent and I are telling him he needs to put his airplane in a bowl and then meet it on the other side of the metal detector.

"We just have to look inside it," says a friendly TSA agent.


I have put the stroller through the machine.  I am holding A-Train and cannot put him down (he is a runner).  I tell Bean that he will have it back as soon as he comes through the metal detector and give him the option of putting it in the bowl or me taking it from him.  Ready?  1-2-3.

He puts it in the bowl.  He walks through the metal detector.  It doesn't beep.  A few more steps and he'll have his plane back.  I breathe a sigh of relief and then Bean collapses, face-down, and starts screaming.  No one can understand him.  I am still holding A-Train.  There is no possible way for me to even scoop Bean up and manhandle him to a better tantrumming location. 

A young female TSA agent reaches into the machine and pulls out his airplane and holds it out to him.  "Here is your airplane!" she says in a tone of voice that says "oh shit! this is my cheerful voice!"  She is also angling her face away from Bean and the airplane, as if she is afraid he will claw it from her hands like a wild animal and narrowly miss her face.  Or chuck it at her head.  (Smart girl.)

He is still screaming.  I'm waiting for my shoes, bag, the stroller, and Bean's bag to come through on the conveyor belt.

Other travelers - including the woman who called me courageous - are walking over and around my screaming puddle of exhaustion son. 

There doesn't seem to be anything else to do, so I yell "MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!"  while waving my arms dramatically.  The TSA agents chuckle and the other travelers give me sympathetic looks.

I finally throw my shoes on, strap A-Train into the stroller, and scoop Bean up.  He is still screaming and crying, but at least he can hear me as I say "I'm going to get food!  Everyone will feel better after food!"  I set him down.  He follows behind.  Screaming with tears streaming down his face.

We get into the terminal and see airplanes.  He calms down as we find our gate and he proudly tells me he saw "E1B" just as I had asked him to look for.

We go to get food.  I am a pack mule, carrying my backpack, pushing a stroller, carrying Bean's backpack, and attempting to just keep him moving long enough to get some food (and coffee.  For any one of us willing to drink it...).

He sees a muffin.  Grabs it.  Ok good...we're moving in the right direction.

I check out.  The guy tells me my total just as Bean spots cookies and declares he wants those.

"No, sweetheart.  We got blueberry muffins and I have other stuff.  Let's just go to the gate."

Crap.  He's a puddle again.

An angry puddle.


"OK.  Great.  Then we'll just go to our gate...."


"Ok.  Again.  Great.  I have food in my backpack!....and these blueberry muffins that looked good to you approximately 45 seconds ago!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!  YOU DON'T HAVE ANY FOOD THAT I LIKE!"At this point he is screaming and following far behind me as we make our way back to the gate and I have added two blueberry muffins and a cup of coffee to my load.  Everyone is looking at us.  One woman - with two elementary-aged kids - is smiling knowingly at me.  I am resisting the temptation to make it clear that I know we are a spectacle by saying things like, "who wants the middle seat in our row?!?" or "Good morning, everyone!  It sure is shaping up to be a great day, eh?!?"

Finally we sit down.  I get out a bag of chocolate-drizzled popcorn (seriously) and Bean calms down.  He then requests a bite of my muffin and proceeds to devour it and the second one instead of the popcorn.

They turned out to be the crumbliest muffins in the history of mankind.  There were two seats and a 10x10 foot swath of carpet covered in muffin crumbs.  I actually went and apologized to the gate staff, who jokingly told me where I could find a vacuum cleaner.

Bean plays with another little boy who also has a toy airplane (a 747).  I am chasing after A-Train and also so thankful that the other parents were proactive in keeping their son from taking Bean's planes or going through his precious new backpack.  

So we get on the plane.  There is a brief scuffle between the boys over looking out the same window that visibly and audibly startles the young couple behind us.  I want to bash my head against that window and stow myself safely under the seat in front of me, but then the kids calm down.  A-Train is falling asleep during take-off and falling over.  The guy across the aisle is laughing at him.

Everything is ok.  At one point during landing, Bean kept falling asleep and waking up to shout orders at me about the bags of pretzels that had just arrived.  But everything is ok.

Until it is time to get off the airplane.

Bean insists on putting his own backpack on.  He keeps missing the second strap, so I just hold it so he can get his arm through.  He realizes I was touching it and starts screaming.  He takes his entire backpack off.  And I say "seriously?  You are going to start over because I touched it?"  All the other passengers walk by.  The parents of that other plane-loving little boy chuckle and tell me to have a great day.

We are now the only passengers left on the plane.  As Bean struggles to get his backpack on (again), he falls and the backpack gets him stuck under the seats.  Again, I am holding A-Train and have nowhere to put him. 

I admit to laughing at him, struggling face-down on the floor of the airplane, wedged there by his beloved backpack and his pride. 

Bean finally frees himself and we are off.

It has been pretty much constant like this for approximately 29 hours.  Even in the night - especially because we are all three in the same bed.  I am sandwiched between a restless, sick toddler and an ornery preschooler. 

Right this minute, A-Train is sleeping and Bean has gone grocery shopping.  I am enjoying the opportunity to find the humor in the last day's happenings, and take some deep breaths!
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