Good bye! We’re leaving on a jet plane

It’s always about this time that the jitters set in. With just two days, five hours to go until our annual summer pilgrimage to the motherland – the packing yet to be tackled, my to-do list still to do, and another day at work to go – I’ve started to dread the flight. The one DH says he’d love to be on with us, but won’t be.

A wing and a prayer: Keeping fingers crossed the boys don't get so overtired they can't sleep

We’re lucky, actually, that he can even take us to the airport – the day I wanted to fly, he’s gone and so now we’re taking a flight at 2.30am just so we can avoid the whole getting to the airport by ourselves bit.

This means on Friday night, we’ll be dragging two small boys out of bed after just two hours’ sleep (if they go to bed at all, that is), bundling them into a car, and onto a plane – all the while hoping that they behave, or at least don’t tantrum too badly, and settle down on take-off for a nice long snooze. Oh, how this could backfire.

When we all fly together, the boys do pretty well, and DH wonders what it is I find so hard. But, somehow, when it’s just me and the kids, all manner of things go wrong. Here’s some examples. I think you’ll see why I get so nervous.

AIR RAGE: Flying from America to London a while ago, BB, aged two at the time, threw the most terrible tantrum because he wanted the stroller to come up the aisle with us. For some reason, having to gate check it sent him wild. He then tantrumed about putting his seat belt on and I actually feared they’d halt the take-off. The 45-minute wait on the ground at Gatwick while the plane waited for a gate unleashed one last round of toddler fury that led to a stampede-like clamour to get off the plane.

MISSING PASSENGER: More recently, I managed to lose him on a flight. They even put an announcement out, asking if anyone was missing a small boy. While getting on, I’d been so distracted with his little brother and getting our bags stowed that I failed to notice he’d legged it up the other end of the plane.

LITTLE TERRORIST: Waiting at the gate for a flight to London last year, BB came out with: “We’re going to go up, up, up and then we’re going to C.R.A.S.H,” announced loudly, repeatedly and with suitable sound effects. No amount of shushing would stop him and nearby passengers started looking really scared.

BORED BOYS: On every flight I’ve been on with my two, they race through my carefully packed bag of tricks in no time at all. Games, toys and books I’ve spent months collecting are dispensed with in minutes – and their excitement at being on an airplane lasts about the same length of time.

So they start seeking fun in mischievous ways: Tray up/Tray down. Light on/Light off. Window shutter open/ shutter closed. Call the flight attendant. Call the flight attendant again. When all the un-dinging I have to do gets too much, we go for a walk, go to the toilet, check the flight map to see exactly how many hours and minutes are left, check it again half a minute later.

VANDALISM ON BOARD: The new airbus superjumbo, I’ve discovered, makes flying with young children a little easier, as there’s more space to move around (the plane even has a flight of stairs you could use as naughty step, though the first-class passengers might not appreciate the noise).

My boys still managed to get into trouble on an A380 flight back to Dubai last year, however. I’d made a break for the loo and while gone, the boys covered the TV screen with stickers. Bad idea – an annoyed flight attendant told me the heat from the screen can turn the adhesive on the stickers into industrial-strength superglue. Imagining the entire aircraft being decommissioned while engineers scraped Lightening McQueen and his friends off 35F’s TV, I peeled away until there wasn’t a single trace of sticker left. A happy coincidence was it used up a good 20 minutes of flight time.

WEIRD THINGS: I swear this happened, though DH says it’s impossible. On a trip to the bathroom with BB, I pushed the flush button and the ‘whoooosh’ was so powerful, it even sucked up a tissue on the floor. BB thought he was going in too. OK, so there’s a chance I was just hallucinating, it was a long flight, but whatever happened, BB is now terrified of the flusher.

On the ground: Touching down and getting home makes it all worthwhile

On this flight, I’ll be armed with the new I-pad, loaded with games, and I’m hoping that flying with a two-and-three-quarters year old will be easier than flying with a one-and-three-quarters year old. The boys have packed their bags already – full of useful things I’m sure, like the empty toilet rolls and glitter sticks for drawing over the seat that I discovered they’d packed for our last trip.

I just have to get organised, get packed, and get to Tips and Toes to have my gellish nails removed (not sure if gellish has reached the UK yet?) Oh, and find our passports.

Bye, bye Dubai … the green and pleasant land, here we come!

About Circles in the Sand

Sun worshiper, journalist, mother, pilot's wife and distracted housewife living in the land of glitz and sand
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12 Responses to Good bye! We’re leaving on a jet plane

  1. madryy says:

    Good luck with your little boys!

  2. Molly Gryskiewicz says:

    oh Marianne I feel for you…best of luck!!!!!

  3. Kristin says:

    Good luck Marianne!! Just remember it is all worth it in the end, and even if it’s not, you will have more great blog material! 🙂 Have a wonderful trip, and I look forward to seeinfg you in August!

  4. Laughed so much at this (and commiserated with you too) – I’ve linked to your post on Twitter! Particularly chortling at Little Terrorist and the loo flushing incident – have always had a phobia of flushing plane loos and can totally sympathise with him!

    • I was actually thinking about you while I was writing the flushing loo bit! I was remembering how you used to fly from HK to London without going to the bathroom! Thanks for linking to me on twitter! I haven’t tried twitter yet – I bet I won’t be able to resist it for too much longer though. Just got back – sad I won’t see you this summer. Have so much to ask you about the US, blogging….might have to do another blog on last night’s flight, wot a nightmare! But lovely to be home

  5. Oh my, my fear levels have just increase tenfold! I imagined that things couldn’t get any worse but now I know they really, really can. You’re a brave woman for going alone with your two cherubs.

    • oh I didn’t mean to scare you! It gets easier, I promise! If I fly with just the big boy now, it’s lovely – well, sort of, if you don’t mind talking for 7 hours non-stop and all the ‘Are we there yets?’!! – but SO much easier than the most difficult age bracket for flying, which I reckon is 1-3 yrs. Hang in there and I hope the flight wasn’t too bad xx

  6. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Hi Circles! This is hilarious! Would you mind a quick re-write to post on my blog re: airplane travel with kids? I’d like to focus on your terms – like the “Air Rage” and “Little Terrorist” – those descriptions will be great for parents flying with young children. You mentioned earlier you might be interested – if so, please send me an email at with a WORD doc attached. Also, please let me know how many links to your blog you would like. Thanks much! AMS

  7. Pingback: We’re leaving on a jet plane - Your Expat Child

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