Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Leaving On A Jetplane......The Homecoming Part One

There's no doubt when you take children, especially those under the age of ten, and confine them in a small space for any extended length of time that you increase the probability of drama and disaster proportionate to the size of space and length of time.  Car journeys, for example, soon fall into the category of, "is it really necessary?" and, when undertaken at all, suddenly include all the weapons of mass distraction you can think of such as - portable DVD players, crayons and colouring books, a stash of biscuits, an endless supply of drinks, cuddly toys, books and the failsafe in the world of childhood bribery - chocolate.  Flying anywhere, is generally regarded as something best engaged in by the truly desperate or insane.  Flying long-distance, and it doesn't come much more long-distance then Brisbane to Dublin, would only be considered something that the desperately insane would consider.  To decide to do it on your own, well I don't think there is a category for that.....

Sunrise over Brisbane and the gateway bridge
The Sun Rises On a Pretty Big Day

And so it came to pass on 29th May 2014 the Mad Mammy and her crew of two boarded one of Emirates Airline's flagship new aeroplanes - the A380.  Oh and what a magnificent ship of the sky she is!  Euphoric on excitement, the kiddies quickly got to grips with the in-flight entertainment, sorted out their blankets and pillows  - like we were on a camping trip - and snuggled down into their pillow-pets.

Two Slightly Excited Children

The time was nine o'clock in the evening and I was betting on them falling asleep as soon as they'd had something to eat.  Deciding to take the 9pm flight out of Brisbane had formed a crucial part of my plan for as smooth a journey as possible.  This was the longest journey I had ever undertaken with them and I was on my own - forward thinking and planning - even for someone who is clearly insane, were vital.  However, I am well aware, oooooh sooooo well aware that when kids suspect you have a plan, they feel obliged to wreck it.  Actually, take it and rip it asunder, jump on it till it's completely unrecognizable and then flush it down the toilet, would be more of an accurate description of what kids do to parents' plans but it doesn't stop us fools from making them anyway.  However, so far, this particular plan of mine was working out perfectly, even down to the fact that the Dude fell asleep before he could finish his meal which, fortuitously, meant I could nick it.  Unfortunately my precaution at ordering the gluten free meal hadn't worked out so well for me - eurrrrgh!  However - Mad Mammy Travel Tip Alert!- if you can invent some sort of dietary special need, the benefit is that you get your food first - which is brilliant because it means you've finished yours by the time the kids get theirs and your dinner doesn't sit there getting colder by the second whilst you sort out the kiddies, which, as every mammy knows, happens all too often anyway.  However, the one drawback to this plan is: if your food is half-ways edible, your critters just might "help" you eat it whilst waiting for theirs to arrive.  Both La-La and The Dude looked on sympathetically as I put half my meal to the side of my tray.  The Dude felt it necessary to confirm that he wasn't, "getting that!"  As he snored contentedly beside me, I happily polished off his "chicken something or other" with mashed potatoes and carrots.  The big A380 sailed upwards and onwards like a giant, graceful eagle of the sky.  La-la was snuggled up to her pillow-pet and doing a good job of trying to catch any stray high-altitude flies and somewhere throughout Kellan Lutz doing a mighty fine job of being "Hercules", I dozed off.

Picture of Emirates A380 Aeroplane
Up, Up & Away On The Big Ship of The Skies - The A380

Fourteen and a half hours later we made a dawn landing into Dubai. The only fly in the ointment at this stage was a throbbing pain in my mouth where I'd had some recent dental work done.  Also, the Dude had hardly slept, such was his delight at an endless supply of movies and video games.  However, he seemed to be happy enough and we toddled around Dubai airport for two hours before boarding our flight to Dublin.  At this stage the pain in my mouth had reached unbearable proportions so I knocked back a few Codapane tablets and it is just as well.  At this stage the Dude was starting to look a little frayed around the edges.  His eyes were bloodshot and looked as if they were being propped open by invisible matches.  I quickly settled him into the window seat and set him up with a movie in the hopes he would fall asleep.  My plan was going perfectly until the stewardess appeared beside me with kiddies' blankets cutely rolled up and each held together with a cuddly toy.  Now, I know what you're thinking - how lovely - and to be honest I was thinking the same thing too.  La-la (the family's resident cuddly toy aficionado) eagerly stuck out her hands and joyfully took ownership of the newest member of her collection.  The Dude eyed the steward with suspicion, like her cuddly-toy blanket thingys were some sort of trick but grudgingly took one anyway.  And that is when ALL. HELL. BROKE. LOOSE.

"I don't want this one."  came the wail.  I instantly caught the hysterical, slightly maniacal vibration in those ominous words and swiveled my head in the direction of the steward, my hand out-stretched, in the hopes of grabbing her and garnering a replacement toy but she was nowhere to be seen.  She'd obviously got the "kid about to kick-off"  alert and ran as fast as her standard issue stilettoes would carry her.  I slowly turned to face a rapidly developing situation.  His face was scrunched up into a defiant snarl, his red-rimmed eyes blazing and the toy was having the life squeezed out of it between his clenched fists.  "I don't want this one," he growled.  I opened my mouth to speak, to utter some sort of nonsense about it being a lovely cuddly toy, that it was a special one just for him, blah, blah, blah......  But I was shot down by an ear-piercing, "I don't waaaaaaant this one!"   All around me hands flew to cover shattered ear-drums.  And so it began - two solid, hair-gnashing, teeth-pulling, hours of crying, shouting, screaming, pouting, kicking and head-banging.  After much abuse of the assistance button, the steward finally made an appearance in the middle of it all.  I explained the source of the problem and she promised to return with another cuddly toy blanket thingy.  I suppose she would have come back much sooner if she hadn't been subjected to the Dude's death-stare.  As it happened she returned approximately an hour later  - not with the promised peace offering but with breakfast!  And before I could warn her she had deposited it in front of the Dude, whose only response was to announce, "I don't want any crappy aeroplane food" and to send his orange juice flying up into the air.  Oh happy days.......  I sat there, incredulous, as orange juice dripped into my eyes.  La-la was soaked.  I didn't dare look behind me.  Now, up to this point I reckon the combined powers of paracetamol and codeine had kept me calm but two hours had passed and their calming effects were obviously starting to wear off as a red mist descended upon me.  I had tried placating him. I had tried cajoling him. I had tried to understand that he was just a little six year old boy who didn't know which way was up after eighteen hours of travelling, two hours sleep and very little to eat.  But now I was done!  I shot him the death glare and went straight to threat level one -  "I am taking La-la to the toilet to get changed, you eat something and don't move from that seat and no more screaming and complaining or you will never go to K-Mart again for the rest of your life!"  I spat at him.  Now, you might think the K-Mart threat is strange but the Dude loves nothing more than cashing in his good behavior beads in the toy department at K-Mart.  He blanched.  The threat and the death glare combined to bring him back to some semblance of reality.  "Okay," he agreed, albeit through gritted teeth.

Blue nosed green skinned little monster
The Little Guy Who Created Such A big Fuss

Myself and La-la returned five minutes later to find him munching on his bread roll and giggling away at something on his screen.  Snuggled into his chest was the offending cuddly toy.  He turned and smiled, "It's okay, I like it now Mummy," he announced.  I stood there dumb-founded, resisted the overwhelming urge to unleash a string of expletives at him and took in a breath so deep I'd say the oxygen masks were close to being released.  I sank into my seat, a half an hour passed and I watched as his eyelids started to droop, my breathing normalized and  I even entertained the idea that I might get a bit of shut-eye myself.  Then it happened.  Someone released the fart equivalent of the atomic bomb.  This was no mildly unpleasant gaseous interlude but a full-on toxic assault and the first person in the line of fire was, you guessed it, the Dude!

Black On Yellow Fart Warning Sign
Fart Alert!

"Oh God!" he shouted in alarm, "oh God, what is that smell?  Oh God, oh God, I think I'm gonna die!"  he wailed as he then proceeded to gag and choke.  To be fair to him he was soon joined by the rest of us.  La-la was even trying to stuff her cuddly toy up her nose.  All around us hands covered mouths and eyes watered as people fought the urge to puke.  After about five minutes the air cleared and I'm sure we all collectively thought we were safe as we considered the fact that no human being could possibly produce another fart of such over-whelming putrid stench and magnitude so soon.  We were wrong.  The second atomic fart was so powerful the lady across the aisle from me heaved.  The Dude really thought we were under some sort of gas-attack.  "Jeeeeezus!  Mummy, they've done it again," he wailed as he jumped up and stood in his seat, in full-on ninja mode.  His rabid eyes scanned our section of the plane as he shouted, "who is it?  who is doing all that farting?" At this stage people didn't know whether to puke or laugh.  It was obvious if this kid found the culprit then he or she had done their last fart - EVER!  I started to laugh and thought I might not be able to stop such was the furious indignation on my son's face.  I got him to sit back down and prayed for a reprieve from the frightening flatulence.  The Dude wrapped his blanket around the bottom half of his face and proceeded to watch whatever was on his screen.  The guy sitting directly in front of him (and my main suspect as the master-farter) got up and went to the toilet.  Thankfully he must have undertaken a complete evacuation of his bowels as no more toxic gas-clouds were released. 

The Dude soon fell into an exhausted sleep, joined by La-la who proceeded to fall asleep with chocolate in her mouth which she then managed to dribble onto my top.  To say I was something of a disheveled mess on arrival in Dublin is probably the understatement of the year.  But all that and the drama of the flight was forgotten at the sight of Aunty Helen's beaming smile as she waved a bunch of flowers at us in the arrival's area.  After two very long years and an interminable amount of time in the air, I was home.