When you travel a lot with kids, and especially when you write about it, it is always family airline travel that elicits the greatest wonder and concern from parents who are less experienced. It’s true that flying with kids can be challenging, for all of the reasons that flying has become challenging generally – security hassles, small seats, unexpected cancellations, overcrowded flights, crabby fellow passengers. All of this is amped up when you’re responsible not only for yourself but for a companion who cannot be reasoned with and who might choose to spend the entire flight screaming.
But I’ve found that the excitement of air travel makes it in some ways easier than long car trips especially now that my kids are a little older. Most kids don’t cry the entire time, and even if they do, it’s a few hours of your life and then you move on. Unless the flight is turbulent, they can get up and walk around and use the bathroom. And even if modern-day air travel is famously devoid of glamour for adults, children (at least my children) don’t know from fancy and are just happy that they can watch a movie inches from their face.
For me the difficulty of flying lies not with my children but squarely with myself. I’ve written before that every time I get on an airplane I go through the stages of grief without truly reaching acceptance. This has been true for me since the very first time I set foot on a plane when I was nine and has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I know some friends who have medical marijuana cards can buy edible weed online and carry those edibles onto the plane, but I’m not sure that’s for me just yet. Although if my fear continues, I might have to consider taking something before I fly because I don’t want this fear to prevent me from seeing more of the world. My friends have told me that I could always take some cannabis products like edibles or even concentrates (see this guide to concentrates) with me to take before I get on the plane. It is something I have considered especially now that it’s the second time I’ve been told it might be able to help me. If I feel anxious beforehand, I could just use the cannabis products to try and reduce my stress and anxiety. I feel better knowing that apparently many airports have amnesty boxes for discarding cannabis products, so I could always bring some to the airport to see how I feel before the flight.
I know that my fear is completely irrational, a beast I can tame but not overcome. It has nothing to do with fact or intellect – I know that flying is safer than driving to the airport. Even then, the fear doesn’t go anywhere, and I can’t even push it away with my thoughts. I’ve been recommended many times to try taking yoga classes by someone who has undergone restorative yoga teacher training so that they can help me deal with my anxiety about this over time and help me get rid of the irrational fear of flying, but I simply haven’t gotten to trying that just yet. Maybe the next time when I fly, I’ll have become a yogi and have finally conquered my emotions.
Now I’m nothing if not stubborn and I have simply refused to let what I know is unreasoned emotion prevent me from traveling. Flying is the most expeditious way to get to many of the places I love, and so I fly. And it’s very important to me that Tommy and Teddy not pick up this burdensome phobia, so I do everything in my power to hide how I’m feeling. Having Matt there helps, since he loves to fly and is genuinely enthusiastic and unafraid. But he’s not always with me and in those instances I do think I’ve given some Oscar-worthy performances. That Tommy is almost eight and doesn’t know how I feel about flying is something of a personal triumph.
So as I prepare this week to fly from coast to coast with both my children (and no husband – we’re meeting him in Los Angeles) I’m dreaming of absorbing some of their excitement and wonder as we take off. I’d love to feel not terror but joy as we soar into that blue sky. I’d like to feel happy that someone is going to bring me a soda and some pretzels. It doesn’t seem like much to ask.
I hope your Monday dreams are less anxiety-ridden than mine! Please feel free to share a link to your own inspiration below, making sure you link directly to your post, not your site’s homepage and that you link back to this post. Questions? See About Monday Dreaming.
Airplane photo courtesy of FS2004 via Flickr.