No more planes!
This morning I woke up at 4:00am. I was excited to have slept so late, but only because I read the clock wrong in the midst of my drowsiness and I thought it was 5:00am. I realized my mistake after I had finished my morning cleanliness routine…but by then it was too late. The Bunny was wide awake because she thought it was morning…
5:00am is a respectable time to wake up at with jet lag, 4:00am is not. We just finished the 2nd longest journey of our lives – a gruelling 30.5 hours from Wiarton, Ontario, Canada to our home in Fukui, Japan. Somehow we survived a 3 hour drive, 1.5 hour flight, 4 hour layover, 14 hour flight (with an extra hour on the ground because of a delay), a 3.5 hour drive and all of the waiting in between. How did we do it?
Packing the right way
We packed our bags very differently before we had a Bunny. Pre-children, we were most concerned with packing as little as possible and not checking any luggage so that we could skip baggage claim and reduce our chances of lost luggage. When we travelled to Japan the first time while Mary was pregnant we manage to fit everything we needed into three carry-on bags: One each for our clothes and one for things we wanted to use on the airplane. We kept the one with things we wanted to use underneath the seat in front of us on the flight and put the others in an overhead compartment.
Our priorities have changed drastically since then. These days there is nothing more valuable than the number of free hands we can have to manage the Bunny. We check ALL of our luggage except for one bag, and that one bag contains only what we need for the flight: Toys, snacks and an empty pocket.
Bunnying through airports
Some airports are wonderful and contain all of the resources that parents need to entertain kids during the sometimes lengthy waits for boarding time. JFK in New York airport is not one of those, and that’s where we had our layovers. Even a simple slide would have been much appreciated! This is why we brought toys. Our strategy was to find a gate without people waiting and let the Bunny play. This mostly worked. If we had more energy we would have liked to make our own fun with escalators, moving sidewalks and long hallways to run through.
The waiting is only one half of the challenge of being in airports – the lineups, security and customs/immigration are the other half. We expected the American security guards to live up to their stereotypes and we were not disappointed. Thankfully we only had to deal with mean people and not with extra baggage checks, pat downs or naked radiation scanners. When the Bunny was a baby we were able to skip most lines, but now that she has less patience and more mobility we didn’t seem to get the same privileges.
The reason we kept an empty pocket in the carry-on bag was so that we could empty our own pockets of anything that might set off a metal detector before we lined up for security. This has worked for us every time.
In the air
Prenatal classes did not cover tantrums at 35000 feet, and no parenting advice could have prepared us for the ride to Canada. On the way home we wised up and drugged the Bunny with children’s gravol. We weighed the ethical pros and cons to doing this. Is it better for her if we let her stay awake after she has exhausted all toy options, doesn’t want to watch movies and can only find satisfaction in running as fast as she can down the aisles OR to give her a chance to sleep through most of the uncomfortable 14+ hours on the airplane? We chose the latter option. When she was awake she was much happier too! One of the side effects of gravol is that it can cause hyperactivity in some children…which is the opposite of what we hoped for. Thankfully we didn’t run into any adverse effects and she was able to sleep soundly.
The most satisfying part of the journey when we walked out of the last airplane at Kansai airport. The Bunny was very, very happy to be finished with flying and we chanted “NO MORE PLANES! NO MORE PLANES!” all the way down the aisle toward the exit.
Now that we’re home all we have to do is re-teach ourselves how to sleep at night. Perhaps tomorrow we will be able to sleep in until 5:00am for real…