This past weekend we went to visit family in Virginia. We were unsure of how our sensory sensitive child would do traveling via airplane. In the past, she has been pretty predictable but this time, we just weren't sure what would happen. This time, we decided to prepare her in advance by showing and talking to her about traveling on a plane. She was so excited about the plane, so much so that she pretended she was a plane all week ! We also decided to bring her a busy bag full of fun things to play with, snacks/drinks and settled in to our last row seats. She loved the freedom of the seat belt and was fascinated by the feeling of being in the air. There was tons of noise because of the location of our seats. The noises annoyed Jason and I to no end but our daughter loved them...they were soothing to her.
I wish I could say that the flight home was as easy. Our flight did not leave until 10 pm which gave us plenty of time to visit with family but did not make travel easy for us. On the way to the airport, our toddler was fine...singing, talking, etc. The same held true for the check-in once we got to the airport and entering the plane. She sat in her seat with her seat belt attached. We had two seats next to each other and she had decided that she was going to sit next to me on the flight. My husband sat across the aisle from us without a travel companion in the other seat next to him. Things seemed to be going well. My daughter and I read books, colored and then BAM !! instant meltdown when she was told that she couldn't have something that she wanted. I think I have mentioned before that when our daughter is angry, she's a bit like 'The Incredible Hulk' i.e screaming, crying, clenched fists, a change in the color of her normally porcelain cheeks and teeth that like to bite. Now, I have to say that we are not in love with the biting part but for the most part, we can usually stop her before she does any harm to anyone's skin. This time, however, I was not so lucky as her razor sharp teeth bit my thigh. I was very calm considering the circumstance and told her that biting was not ok and that it hurt. Do I think she understands what I am telling her? Absolutely. Do I think she bites for fun? No but I do think she bites out of frustration with not having the words to tell us what is really bothering her. After she calmed down, I massaged her head and got her comfortable with her head on my lap, boots off and a pillow made from my coat. Not even two minutes later, she was fast asleep on my sore thigh.
As she lay there fast asleep, I began to cry. It doesn't happen often but when it does, it's like a waterfall. I know I was crying because my thigh was hurting but I was having doubts about my parenting skills. Was I really that bad of a mother that my child felt it necessary to bite me? Or was she so comfortable with me that she felt it was okay to bare those pearly whites? Rationally, I know the answer to these question but when your at 10,000 feet and have a mind that never stops working, any rationality you had goes out the window.
Suddenly, as if a message was sent to me through God through the two gentlemen that were sitting in front of us. One of the gentlemen turned to me and said "Don't get frustrated or be embarassed....we both have kids. I have 5 and my friend has 5. Traveling with little ones isn't always easy. We won't be upset by anything your child does....we are used to it !" Those were the right words at the right time and I really let them sink into my jumbled brain. Someone finally understood EXACTLY how I was feeling at that moment and it was a relief to me. I wasn't the only parent that felt frustrated with their child at times... HALLELUJAH !
Now that I have had a few days to reflect upon what happened on our return flight, it is easy to see that so much of H.'s frustration had to do with being overstimulated, tired and not getting her way....a deadly combination if there ever was one. It was not about how much she loves me or even if she liked me at that moment. It wasn't about me and I shouldn't have taken it so personally. We learned from this experience, we will never again travel at 10 pm until H. is much older. I do have to admit that the time of the flight was an honest mistake....hubby thought he had made it for 10 am but had done 10 pm instead. By the time we noticed the error, it was too late to change our departure time which was unfortunate.
Despite all of the drama of the return trip home, we really did have a fabulous time in DC. Jason and I actually had a "date night" to go see "Bon Jovi" in concert (which was my Christmas gift from hubby this year) and H. had some much needed bonding time with my in-laws. She was also fortunate enough to spend some quality time with her cousin, Jaz and Godmother touring my in-laws farm. She loved the whole experience of being on a farm...particularly petting the baby calf. Overall, H. did very well in a new and different environment. Hopefully, that's what I will be able to reflect on one day when I am older and wiser. Two will only be here for a short time and that's what I need to keep in perspective.