A couple of weeks ago we spent a few days in Florida with friends. The fun and adventures we had there were priceless! These are memories that not only I, but my son, will treasure forever.
I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive about the whole trip at the beginning mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t flown since I was about my son’s age… and well… that was quite a few years ago! My son had never been on a plane and though I had previously taken him to our local airport, allowing him to ‘experience’ what it was like, quite frankly, our airport is small compared to pretty much anywhere else in the world… or at least that’s what it seemed like.
So, when we arrived at the Toronto airport for our flight, I think we both had to pick our jaws up off the floor as we stood looking at what we were heading into. We made a couple of funny remarks each before we comically began trying to figure out where we were to go and what we needed to do next. Thank goodness we had a few hours before our flight actually was boarding! We laughed at our inexperience, as we approached security… the one place I really dreaded! We had discussed this process previously, but actually being in the middle of it all made it a little more real and a little intimidating at the time. Trying to again explain to my son ‘why’ we had to take off our shoes with what seemed like a never ending line of impatient travelers behind us… and some rather impatient security… we had a couple of mini meltdowns with the anticipation of Flary (his stuffed Pokemon that doesn’t leave his side) having to go through the x-ray machine. It was a little touch and go… but he did it and we all made it through OK… *phew*. Really, if anyone in line was going to complain to me about the fact that we weren’t moving fast enough… I think they could all tell that this would not have been an action that may have worked in their favour!! Overall it was actually much easier than the last time we crossed the border by car in Buffalo – which is another story for another day!
We were able to pre-board, thank goodness, and my son got to meet the pilots – Michael and Michael – which he thought was incredibly funny that they both had the same name! I was happy that we managed to get a window seat for him as I was hoping it was going to be a good distraction… and it was doing just that. We made a game out of trying to figure out which turn was going the be the last one before the plane finally hit the runway… this seemed to go on forever, but we had some good giggles while we waited. Finally it was our time to take off. I quietly prayed to myself that he was going to be alright when the plane took off and with all that was ahead of us over the next few hours. I waited in anticipation and was thrilled to see the ear to ear grin on his face as the plane took off. He LOVED it, which meant I was then wearing a big grin as well… after breathing a big sigh of relief. Shortly after take off I closed my eyes thinking I could rest for even just a few minutes… he was safe and it had been a long day thus far. As soon as my eyes closed I had an elbow in my side and he was telling me, “Mom, you have to keep your eyes open! You have to cherish every moment“. How could I say no to that? Ummm… I’ll have a Starbuck’s please! Oh, right…I forgot… we are some 30,000 feet in the air!
Enjoying the flight, my son played video games and once the battery died (oh, batteries just do not last long enough!) he switched to his iPad! Yes, we were pretty well stocked with electronics to ensure that each one backed up the other to ensure he had access to something the entire day. Then the pilot’s voice came over the speaker to announce that we were descending into our destination. I thought to myself… this is great! Everything is going really well. I had been mentally prepared to have to deal with more serious issues than we had faced… so this was fantastic! I was excited, as was he, to get to see our friends and we were both eager for the plane to land. And then it hit! Probably the one thing I wasn’t really prepared for… his ears! Within about 2 minutes after the pilot announced our descent, my son started shouting – and yes, I do mean shouting! – about how much his ears hurt. Remembering the speech that the airline attendant had given on the video we watched before taking off, he was panicking and looking for the EXIT so that he could get off the plane, quickly forgetting the fact that we were still likely 30,000 feet up in the air! He became increasingly more agitated despite me trying everything that I possibly could, in that environment, to try to engage him in some other activity or conversation. Everyone on the plane was looking at us – not that I really cared… and this went on for about 10 mins before we landed and those were probably the longest 10 minutes of my life! Once we landed it was complete panic to get off the plane, but of course, this is not a quick process. People walking by would have, I’m sure, given us odd looks as we sat, forehead to forehead, quietly trying to help him calm down.
Once off the plane, and the entire time we were walking through the airport, all I heard was how he was never going to fly again!! I seriously thought we were going to have to relocate to Florida… not that I would have complained about that… cause we weren’t heading home again! Or perhaps it was going to mean renting a car and spend days driving back!! Ugh… Without choice, I was dragging four bags, and my post-meltdown son through what seemed like an airport that was bigger than the city we live in. I never thought I could be so glad as to see my friend standing there waiting for us beside his yellow convertible. It was all OK! We made it! Maybe a little bumpy at the end of what really had been a very long day, but we made it!
Overall, I will say, I am glad that we did this as it was an experience for us both. I am proud of how my son did with the whole experience. I appreciate the fact that things could have been A LOT worse, so I am still counting my blessings!! These little blips really are all just part of life and new experiences… and the more he is exposed to new things, the hope is that he will become more comfortable… or at least we learn new ways to maneuver.
And as for Florida… at this point it was now time to have a few days of fun with some alligators, dolphins, lemurs and all sorts of other cool and exciting things that were waiting on the horizon. And one of the coolest things about the whole vacation was that we were able to do all of this with friends that we both love dearly… and that is what made the next few days truly some of the best days ever!
Wait til you hear about my son’s adventures swimming with the dolphins!