- When packing, don’t leave your suitcase unattended. I made this mistake yesterday. I returned to my half-packed suitcase and discovered two rubber ducks, fresh from the bath, dripping all over the neatly folded, ironed clothes. I also found a photograph of Noah and me in an “I love my Mummy” frame. There wasn’t room for it in his own suitcase, apparently, because he had packed every book on his bookshelf.
- Don’t be ready to leave for the airport earlier than necessary as this provides an opportunity for mischief to occur. We were all packed and ready with shoes on at 9.50 a.m., waiting for my husband to arrive to help us to the airport. Five minutes later, when he hadn’t turned up, I checked my phone and discovered he had texted me an hour before telling me we were leaving at 10.30 a.m. instead. What to do with the extra 40 minutes? I let Noah watch television. He claimed he was hungry. The only snack I hadn’t packed for the journey was a chocolate croissant. 30 degrees heat plus chocolate croissant equals an almighty mess on his clean clothes. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise until I was strapping him into his car seat.
- Your child will need to go to the toilet at the most inopportune times. I was at the self-check-in booth printing our boarding passes, gripping both passports and a notebook containing the booking reference. I had keyed half the details in, when Noah announced he needed a wee, grabbing his willy to accentuate the point. Every day without fail the boy holds his wee for over three and a half hours whilst at nursery, but that doesn’t mean he will choose to hold it when I really need him to. I abandoned the check-in and proceeded to the toilets. Again, five minutes before boarding, Noah did several stinky “botty pops”.
“Do you need a poo?” I asked.
“I don’t need a poo-poo!” he informed me indignantly, as if I were a simpleton.
Boarding was announced and he needed a poo. We rushed to the toilets. He didn’t do a poo.
- Avoid taking your child in the Duty Free Shop. Avoid this at all costs. This is difficult when a bottle of water costs €1.90 in the Duty Free Shop and €3.50 in the café. No matter how hard you try to steer your child away from the sweets, his beady little eye will seek them out. He will pick up a giant Toblerone. You will say no. He will pick up a giant tube of Jelly Belly. You will say no. He will pick up a clear plastic bag full of mini packets of Mentoes. You will say no. He will not take no for an answer and will refuse to put them back. An argument will ensue. He will flee the scene, still clutching the Mentoes. The shop has no walls, therefore your three year old will see no boundaries. You will have to chase him as he flees the scene of the crime, casting worried glances over your shoulder to check if any security guards are running after you, before rugby tackling him to the ground to retrieve the Mentoes.
- No matter how many activities you pack for the journey, your child will be fed up within an hour of boarding the plane. We had a colouring book and pencils, a sticker book, story books, a puzzle, his Vtech Innotab and a portable DVD player. The DVD player is the most handy (see point 8) but the volume does not go very high so he gets fed up of straining to hear Peppa on a plane, far sooner than he would if he were sitting indoors.
- Accept your child will eat far more sugar than they normally do. What else is there to do between check-in and boarding apart from bribing him to sit in a café and eat cake? On the flight, you will be offered a sweet (i.e. chocolate) or savory snack. If your child is paying attention and you choose the savory option, he will put you right in front of the air hostess, and inform her he will have the chocolate. He will also have undiluted apple juice. Also,if your parents, his loving grandparents, are picking you up from the airport, they will bring some sort of treat food (e.g. a muffin) for your child to snack on. There will also be promises of choc-ices after dinner. Which leads me on to…
- If your parents haven’t seen your child for a while, expect excessive behaviour. Yesterday, my mother outdid herself by greeting us in the arrivals hall by shouting our names whilst surrounded in a cloud of bubbles from a bubble gun. The bubble gun was Noah’s, of course, and he was absolutely delighted with it. I didn’t realise it at the time but the bubble gun was actually a godsend (see point 8). Apart from the bubble gun, my parents had bought Noah an array of garden toys: a trampoline, a new tent, a swing ball, a football and goal and a bug catching set (?!). Whilst they didn’t bring all of this to the airport with them, they did describe it to Noah in great detail, making his face a picture of rapture as he imagined it. He won’t miss the park this time we’re in England: he has his very own adventure land in the back garden.
- Your child will never fail to surprise you. On the way home from the airport, we got stuck on the M25 for four hours between junctions 24 and 25. When we eventually did get off, we were still miles away from home. Noah occupied himself with his DVD player and the bubble gun. To my delighted dismay, the boy was an absolute angel. He asked, mildly, a few times, why we weren’t moving. My back ached, my legs ached, I was mind-numbingly bored, I was hungry and thirsty and I needed to go to the toilet. I certainly felt like throwing my toys out of the pram, but my Noah completely put me to shame.
- Your child will be willing to wee in an empty apple juice bottle but under no circumstances will he poo by the side of the car. Noah took great delight in weeing in a bottle and claimed to need a wee every ten minutes or so until the novelty wore off. Later, he really needed a poo. He was a bit distressed by how much he needed a poo. We pulled out of the traffic, stopped beside a grassy bank and got him out of the car. He was unable to poo. He did wee all over my shoe, though.
- Sleep will be disrupted. Even if you set out with all the best intentions, booking flights in the middle of the day so you avoid early starts or late bedtimes as well as rush hour traffic, sleep will be disrupted in some way. Noah finally fell asleep in his car seat at 9pm. That’s 10pm in Veinna, three hours after he would normally be asleep. Then he kept waking up on and off until we got home and I carried him up to bed. He woke up this morning at 4.45am demanding breakfast. Seeing as he’d only had a series of snacks for dinner last night (a goodies bar, a satsuma and half a packet of biscuits), I had to allow him to get up and raid the kitchen cupboards at that unearthly hour.
I’m proud of your behaviour yesterday, my Noah.