Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why traveling with kids is like childbirth

My parents front yard in South Carolina
Everyone knows that giving birth is supposedly the most painful experience on Earth.

At least that was what I thought until I traveled 16 hours last week with my little Dutchlings to my home in South Carolina.

First of all, we were late getting to the airport to check-in and once we made it to the desk we found out my son's American passport had expired. Thank goodness he has a Dutch one too, so we had 20 minutes to arrange a visa for him to travel to the States.

Of course, we made it but the flight had closed before our connecting tickets could be printed out which later caused us to miss our connecting flight. Yes, it was stressful and I thought it couldn't get any worse.

However, little did I know there was a natural disaster about to strike on our final flight from Detroit to North Carolina. Little did I know I would walk off the plane a changed mama.

It was pure bliss knowing this was the last leg of our journey but when we arrived at the end of the connector, I became a bit nervous. It wasn't a normal plane. It was what we call a puddle jumper. To me, it looked like a model airplane compared to the big 747 we just flew from Amsterdam in.

Cautiously, we literally climbed on the plane, it was so tiny there was only one seat on each side and you couldn't have carry-on's. Half the plane was opened with two huge doors. You could literally fall off if you didn't walk carefully down the aisle.

I was a wreck and quickly strapped my kids into their seats. That was when it happened. I bent over to hook my son's belt in the seat across the aisle and I almost vomited. He smelled like a 5 year old piece of festering poop. Apparently on his way down the tunnel, he had an "accident".

I looked frantically for a toilet, it was at the back of the plane and the flight attendant said we couldn't use it yet. She would regret these words later!

It was so hot on the plane, we were wet from sweat and I could now smell my son from across the aisle. Oh god, I thought, forget about the fear of crashing or taking off in this World War II leftover, I hoped we survived the trip without anyone dying from my son's toxic fumes.

We finally took off and were up in the air for about 5 minutes when extreme turbulence hit. We were literally bouncing in our seats and that's when the captain came on to give us the devastating news: no getting out of your seat, even to use toilet.

Great, I thought, its just an hour flight, surely that's not long enough to stink up the plane.

It wasn't 10 minutes later when I saw the lady and her teenage daughter sitting in front of us waving over the flight attendant and whispering in her ear. Darn! They had to be whispering about the smell! My heart raced, I had to do something. But going to the toilet would risk my son's safety, not an option.

I could see the man's nose (two rows ahead) begin to twitch and then he covered it with his hand. Oh shit! The funk was slowly creeping, filling the tiny plane. I knew it wouldn't be long and it would reach the pilots in the cockpit. They were only about 7 feet away.

I could just see the headlines, "Poop caused pilot to make emergency landing." I know crazy, but you never know these days, especially in the States. I would then be arrested for negligence and my kids deported back to Holland.

The plane really began to rock and roll and I was convinced the fumes were to blame. I sat there in shame, wishing the turbulence would stop so I could possibly solve this problem.

And finally, my window of opportunity came and we rushed to the toilet with spare clothes in hand. To my surprise, it was little more than a skid mark in my son's underwear. Not sure why this pissed me off, but it did. All this stress and it wasn't even worth a change of new pants. He changed his underwear but we left everything else on. Problem solved!

At least that was what I thought until we were sitting back at our seats for a good 10 minutes and the funk returned. I was fuming, I immediately accused my son of a relapse. I could see the noses up ahead begin to twitch and the uncomfortable shifting in the seats.

All I could do was sit there, we were out of underwear and I gave up. Thankfully, soon we were on the ground and at the gate. The doors were opened up  and the plane was immediately an inferno again.

Meanwhile there was a problem with the connecting walkway, so we were waiting about 5 miserable minutes which seemed to magnify the stench by 1000 times. The plane was instantly turned into the city sewer and people were now avoiding my eye contact.

The walkway was fixed and we tried to rush out, but not before I was shamed the worst I have ever been in my life. The whispering lady and her teenage daughter walked out just ahead of us and that's when the flight attendant said, "Thanks ladies for putting up with the smell."

I shrunk to the size of a smurf and dragged the kids behind hoping to quickly escape. The flight attendant just looked at me, coldly and didn't say a word! She didn't say a word!! Not even to the kids!

I wanted to cry, not sure why, maybe it was the stress of the flight or maybe it was just from the delirium caused by the shit fumes.I grabbed stinky boy by the hand and made a bee-line to the toilet.

To my surprise, he was squeaky clean but apparently the smell was absorbed into the microfibers of his jogging pants. Jezzzz!

And then tiger mama came out, I wanted to turn around and grab that snotty flight attendant by her face and tell her how dare she be rude to me and my children. I was proud of my son. He just traveled 17 hours without complaining, crying or fighting with his sister. So what if he smelled like a dirty toilet. He rocked!

But I didn't go back, I was too tired and glad it was over. Just like when I gave birth to theses two little creatures, it was long and painful but worth every moment. I was home...poop and all!


  1. What a journey! I hope your holiday will compensate for it. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks! Yes we are having an amazing holiday! I will be so sad going back to Amsterdam.

  2. Amazing story, you just had my wife and I screaming with laughter. We just moved to Amsterdam (Oud-Zuid); and I found your blog yesterday. We have three kids, and while the youngest is 11; totally relate to your nightmare(s).

  3. Thanks for checking out my blog! Im learning now bigger kids, bigger nightmares, as im sure you know all about. If I can make it the next 14 years without going cukoo crazy it will be my greatest life accomplishment!


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