Monday, December 24, 2007

Kind of a Silly Question

"So, how was your flight?"

Asked innocently, perhaps, but does anyone REALLY want an answer?

Let's see... In the best case scenario, our travel door-to-door from Moscow to Denver was going to take 23 hours. Best case scenario. On my own, with both girls.

Was it really going to go in such a way as to elicit a smiling, "Great!" response?


As it was, our flight from Moscow was delayed an hour and a half, all of that time spent confined in the plane. I thought our seats were together--with both girls in the two far left seats, then the aisle, and then me. As it turned out, there was a businessman slated for that first seat across from the girls. And then I was next to him in the middle of the center section. And he wouldn't switch seats.

I can understand that he reserved that seat--but so had I! And I had two kids with me--and they're not the easiest kids. There was no way I could just let them wing it on their own, without me to prevent spills and stop fights. Mr. Business made us give it a go, though... No one else would switch, the flight was full, the stewardesses couldn't do anything, so I just sat there dreading it. Sure enough, with ten minutes we had a spill and crying kids.

Mr. Business just GLARED at me. I timidly said, "Look, we both reserved this seat and it's not fair for either of us. But you're going to hate me no matter what. Either you switch with me and are angry about it, or you stay put and I have to keep talking over you and getting up to deal with my kids. "

He just glared at me and still wouldn't switch.

Then the kids started to unravel and he cut into me, "My wife always traveled with our kids on her own and she did just fine." Great, you condescending jerk. Glad you had such easy kids. Mine, however, are not... and being put down as a parent isn't a great way for me to start this really long voyage. I made a calm, quiet remark asking if either of his kids had had special needs (which mine actually do--the extent of intervention both have needed for speech and emotional issues is rather great! Most kids don't have possible permanent vocal cord damage from screaming two hours per day--which Talia used to do!) and he still said nothing, staying put.

It's so hard to sit next to someone when you know they are shooting you all the negativity and mean thoughts they can. I tried to not be mean at all in response, but I ended up almost crying as the girls both pleaded for me.

Then the spill happened, they cried, and he made a huge angry scene of giving me the seat. I ended up putting Katya next to him so I could be between the girls--good call. But then in addition to Natalia's meltdowns, I had Katya's morose behavior because she couldn't be the one sitting next to me. At least she wrote me her statements of how maligned she was instead of sobbing them. She also was pushed to the edge by the man's glares.

We had a little reprieve over Greenland; I told them it was the North Pole and they spent half an hour looking for Santa's house. Santa was a central figure during this trip... I called him at least four times and left two messages with one of his elves. At least it reeled Natalia in and worked instead of time outs or spanking (can't exactly do that on an airplane).

You know it's a parallel universe when you realize you "only" have eight hours more to go of the flight and that's good news! And five hours feels like, "Wow!" and two hours is, "Yay, we're basically there!"

The time in Atlanta was easy; they were so happy to simply get out of the airplane. I even volunteered to give up our seats (full flight); they would have given us $1,200, a hotel room and dinner/breakfast vouchers. Unfortunately a flight carrying many passengers booked for our flight was late, so they didn't need the seats. We arrived late in Denver and then it took very long for our bags to come out...

We arrived in Golden at 1:45 a.m. 26 hours door-to-door.

So, back to that initial question.

We arrived. So did our luggage.

Feeble smile. "Fine."

Followed by a "fine" night. I finally got the girls in bed at 2:45 a.m. Katya kept insisting on turning on the lights, angrily saying she had jet lag, but I refused to let her budge. At 3:30 my mother-in-law heard her and then came in,turning the lights on, offered both kids water and let them leave the room. Half an hour later (AARGH!) they finally went back to sleep. Katya then woke up three more times, but I finally slept at 5:30... until I heard commotion at 6 a.m. My in-laws had left the fire going all night (!), and Katya went to "tend to it." Given that she's never really seen a working fireplace before, she was fascinated... (They'd never used it in the past when we were here). Somehow she caught a rug on fire and luckily my already-stressed-out mother-in-law found it almost immediatley. It could have been really bad, and the carpet under the rug was brand-new. Not an auspicious start to what already is going to be some tense family time in a packed house with all kinds of extended family.

I won't be blogging much these next two weeks, though, because I really would like our family here to read the blog more often!!! And there isn't a computer in a "public" area. Chris arrived this afternoon and brought his laptop, though, so I'll try to post a little.

Hope everyone's travel goes well!


Rachael said...

Oh you poor thing. Chris didn't travel with you?

Curious if that man was Russian or American...not sure why that matters, just curious. You knew eventually he'd wise up and switch, though! Kind of like, "look mister, we can do this the easy way or the hard way!"

Rob said...

I'm glad you made it to CO safe and sound (despite the flight from hell). That is awfully brave of you to make that trip alone! Have a wonderful holiday in Colorado and best wishes for 2008! I know your dad is really looking forward to seeing you this week...

Lindsay (Rob and Alec, too)

Nataliya said...

Oh no! What a jerk! I'm glad you made it safely, though I understand your "fine" response...

Hope the "fireplace" issue was the last one, and your vacation from now on will be smooth and relaxing!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Tami said...

Augh! What a jerk!!! You handled it way better than I.
I am not looking forward to what will most likely be my one and only international flight with a child, all by myself.
I'll bring Maddie back by myself - and I'm already having nightmares about how she'll react on the plane and how I can explain to a child who can't understand one word I say about what is going on around her.
One step at a time.
I've got to get a return date first.
BTW - Sorry I've been MIA for so long. Our laptop wouldn't let us comment on most blogs. But now, I'm BACK! :)
HAve a great vacation!!!

Lori said...

I'm reading your blog from the car. We are currently en route to my mom's in NY (a 9 hour drive that is going to take us 13). I was thinking how much this trip sucks with a newborn baby (it's not going so well) but your trip sounds much, much worse, so I will stop complaining now about my own. We only have about 2 hours left!
I bet your already dreading the trip home and you only just got there.
Good idea about calling santa! I could see my sister Rachael (alwayswanted4) doing the same thing to her kids.

Annie said...

My gosh, I loved this post!!! I can think of few things as grueling as that Moscow to US flight! It is beyond exhausting. Well - in my opinion the trip back is a piece of cake in comparison! At least you can sort of pretend it is a normal "night" and that helps!

I grew up in Boulder! In college I did some theater in little former Catholic church in Golden that was owned by the brewery....and when I was a little bitty girl we'd drive there and get these special ice cream cones my parents liked. Hang in there!

Katya said...

Well that made my drive down to Orlando seem like a picnic. :-) That guy should be forced to fly transatlantic with HIS kids by himself.

kate said...

yep--it's a pointless question.

what a JERK sitting next to you! so sorry about him.

when he mentioned his wife flying alone with his kids, i thought you were going to ask if she was allowed to sit with them or was separated from them.

enjoy CO! i miss it.

Dina said...

Oh, when, oh when are you coming back! I miss hearing about Moscow! Hope your holidays are terrific and that the fight back is mercifully easy.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog and I am making it a must read from here on out...I miss Moscow...

Christine said...

The man sitting next to you can learn a thng or to about being polite. Don't sweat it, they are just kids. What's important is that you made it safe and sound. :)