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the Long March

Here I am, back on American soil. After months of stressing over Jonas's potential bad behavior on a 14 hour flight, followed by a 5 hour and a 1 1/2 hour flight, he did AMAZINGLY well. I did ask nearly everyone I know to pray for our trip, as I had visions of me sobbing in the miniature bathroom on the plane.
We started our journey at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30th, leaving Laos. We arrived in Bangkok and got a Dayroom in the airport to pass our 6 hours away. We both took a nap and then we went and got some sushi and miso soup (his favorite) to eat in the room, after which we took a shower. I was also glad that he took a dump before the shower which made it less likely to have a big load on the plane. Maybe that was too much information, but I think the Mamas out there know what I'm talking about. After leaving the dayroom we still had about 2 hours before boarding time (partly due to me misinterpreting "18:30" to mean "5:30pm" instead of 6:30 (my math skills leave much to be desired). We spent an hour or so playing in a little indoor playground. That was kind of nervewracking because some shoeless Indian men were sleeping on the soft foam floor of the play area, and apparently the play area was very close to Mecca because 2 different people came and laid down their prayer rugs in the corner and prayed a while. I was afraid that Jonas would run up and yank off this one praying woman's sequined head covering. It was pretty shiny and tempting.
Once we walked to our gate, Jonas ran around with a 20 month old girl and played with the payphones. I let him do whatever, but the girl's mom kept telling her not to run, not to punch the buttons on the phone, not to make happy noises. The girl will probably turn out to be obsessive compulsive. I was GLAD that Jonas was running around. Actually, I was chasing him. Sometimes I feel that the rest of the world sees me as an unfit mother. Maybe all moms feel that once in a while.
When we finally got on the plane I was thrilled to see that all of the economy seats had their own personal TV screens with movies on demand and video games. I was also thrilled that Jonas fell asleep about 30 minutes into the flight and I ate my dinner in peace! He woke up about an hour later (I was watching Memoirs of a Geisha ) and we played a while, in our seats. He fell asleep again about 2 hours later, and pretty much slept steadily from 10 pm until 5 am. He awoke briefly in that time but always fell back asleep. Meanwhile, I watched a documentary about John and Yoko, a biography about Jane Austen, an episode of Friends, 2 1/2 Men, King of Queens, Joey, Oliver Beane...about 2 and a half hours of sitcoms.
Jonas woke up before breakfast was served. At one point he had a poop diaper and we had to wait FOREVER for the only onboard bathroom with a changing table. I don't want to know what that person was doing in there. We waited so long the poop squished out onto my clothes, but luckily I was wearing a brown skirt and a black top. That was kind of an annoyance but it wasn't the end of the world. We ate breakfast together and he threw a fit to drink some English tea, which he spilled. That was probably the most irritating moment of the entire trip, because we got in a little tug-o-war over the tea. I finally gave it to him and he practically dumped it out.
I was so proud of him for everything though. He didn't wander around the plane. He stayed sitting or standing in his seat the whole time. He played with playdough, books, colored pencils, and a little toy cleaning kit with a small mop and sponges and things. He LOVES to clean. He cleaned at every airport.
In the LA airport I got through immigration quickly. I had Jonas in a front carrier, a backpack on my back, my purse, and his diaper bag. Once I got to baggage claim I put Jonas in the little Smart Cart they have for free at the airport. It took our luggage FOREVER to come down the belt, but once I got in the customs line, we got through pretty quick. No one was rude to me like they usually are in LAX. I walked about 20 minutes pushing my luggage to get to the United Airlines checkin, did the self check-in, and then got in line to go through the metal detector (no more smart cart). Jonas started crying at this point because he was tired and ready to walk around rather than me holding him. It was sad but he sobbed into my shoulder and let me hold him instead of squirming away. On the way to the gate he wanted to get down and play with the payphones again, but I needed to get to our gate first to put down my bags. I was really dying by that point. I was dragging my purse and Jonas was like nearly touching the ground because he had squirmed out of my arms. Finally some lady had pity on me and carried one of my bags (although we were only 20 steps from the gate). We had about an hour before boarding, which we used to go to the bathroom, change Jonas' clothes, and run around "cleaning" things. He was being really cute and happy. Some people bought him a meduim McDonalds fry, which I ate most of.
The flight to Chicago was a bit crowded. I was in the middle of 2 large men and Jonas was in my lap. He fell asleep for alot of the flight and I watched The Office on the inflight movie thingy. I also watched some Queen Latifah movie without the headphones on. We had about 2 hours to go and Jonas woke up all chatty though the cabin was dark and everyone else seemed to be asleep. I distracted him with a magna-doodle and a book about belly buttons. He got a little smarmy because he wanted to stand on the floor between my legs instead of sitting in my lap. There was seriously NO space on that plane.
When we landed in Chicago I didn't have to do anything but go to my gate (no luggage or metal detector worries). I called my parents collect and then let Jonas play with the payphones for like 25 minutes (it was about 6 am Chicago time). I got a Chai Latte from Starb*cks and just really let Jonas play around and walk all over the place. In the bathroom this other mom gave me 10 diapers because she said she didn't have room in her bag. I was like "woohoo, free Pampers!". We played with the diaper lady's daughter for a while b/c our gates were next to each other.
Finally we boarded a REALLY small plane to fly to Alabama. It was super crowded (the illustration of a cattle car comes to mind), but Jonas slept the WHOLE TIME!
He was still asleep after we landed. I put him in the front carrier and he stayed asleep when I met my parents, got my bags, drove to Panera Bread, and ordered my food. He woke up when we got back in the car with the food. He wimpered a bit but once we got to my parents house and he saw the motherload of new toys (and sandbox, and a real live cat which scratched him in the face) he was really on cloud nine.
I'm so so proud of my little world traveler.
The next milestone will be adjusting to the 12 hour time difference.

Friday, Jun. 02, 2006 at 5:37 AM

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