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Monday, September 6, 2010

Paris Arrival

Arrival in Paris - Savage Skies

Being here is heaven. Getting here was hell. My singer-songwriter friend, Cheryl, wrote on my Facebook wall that the previous 2 lines would make a great title for a country song. Agreed. I should've known the kids (er, Finley, to be precise) would have issues long before we boarded the Air France flight at Miami International Airport. Fiona and Finley were like rampaging savages up and down the concourse. They ran circles around an information sign. Finley, despite repeated warnings not to swing an open bag of animal crackers, whipped them side to side, sending lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) skittling onto the tile floor. When I insisted he pick up every last cracker and deposit them in the trash, he and Fiona made a game of seeing who could sprint to the garbage first. I took both kids to the ladies' room as part of our pre-flight preparations, and Finn knocked the soap dispenser clean off the wall (pun intended) into a waste bin. Do I smell trouble brewing?

After dinner (I know, actual food on a plane...weird, huh?) during which I threw back a plastic cup of red table wine like a shot, I gave the kids each a 500 mg chewable tablet of Melatonin. Mom friends had recommended the supplement as a way to help the little rascals sleep, and I felt duty-bound to my fellow passengers to ensure Fiona and Finley (especially Finley) were knocked out cold during the entire flight. It worked brilliantly for about 40 minutes. Fiona curled up sideways and snoozed, while Finley draped a thin beige airline blanket over his head and was so still, I had to peek under the covers a few times so I could see his pulse. I thought, "See, schlepping the kids overseas by myself isn't so bad. They've ridden plenty of airplanes. I've had a fair amount of experience traveling with irrational beings. We'll be fine..."

And then, something horrible happened. Finley woke up. He started screaming, "I'm cold, I'm cold...get the blanket on!" He squirmed and yanked the cover this way and that, trying to achieve a perfect tarping of his 40-pound body.  It didn't work. That's when he started kicking the seat in front of him. The young Spanish-speaking woman who'd paid money to feel Finn's feet at her backside turned around to inspect the offending party. "Sorry," I said. "Finley, quit kicking the seat," I hissed in my best "Mommy's-gonna-kill-you" voice. That only made Finley scream louder: "I'm cold, I'm cold...I can't get this blanket..." It was the middle of the night, somewhere over the Atlantic, and all I could think about was beating or not beating my child. "I'm sure France has child protection laws. I bet they frown on parents beating their children to a bloody pulp." Besides, there's not enough room in Economy class for a proper beating." So I scooped up Finley like a football and carried him to the lavatory at the back of the plane. I sat him on the counter. I did not spank him, nor did I shake him like a maraca.

Instead, I threw myself at the mercy of my 4-year-old: "Finley, you have to help Mommy. You have to stop crying. There's only me. You have to help." My master manipulator said, "You hate me. You don't like me." "No, Finn," I said. "I don't hate you. I don't like the way you're acting. You need to calm down." I held back tears and Finley eventually shut down his own water works.  We returned to our seats, where I asked a flight attendant for some "lait chaud," (warm milk, and hey, they all speak English, but I figured I might as well start practicing my French). "Avec du chocolate?" "With chocolate?" Yes.

Finn dozed again under his beige blanket tarp, waking me every 10 minutes or so to reposition his blanket and complain. About an hour before landing, both kids were awake, laughing, picking raisins from their breakfast buns. Just before the Boeing 747-400 touched down, Fiona spotted the air traffic control tower at the Charles de Gaulle airport. She announced, "Look - It's the Eiffel Tower." Not yet, kids. We weren't inside Paris at the moment, but we were on French soil. And about to leave behind a turbulent night. Au revoir, plane... Let's not repeat that, huh?


  1. Good job Mom staying in control. I've pulled the "mom tears" before too and it usually works. Boys don't like to their moms cry.

  2. Every mother on the planet is in your shoes in the way you describe it here! Brilliant writing I tell you, put them all in a book as a "Mommy's guide to life with kids." You'll never have to "work" again!

    :) Hugs and cheers from WA! Sally

  3. Way to go keeping yourself together.
    You are SUCH a brilliant writer!
    Praying your next flight is MUCH calmer...

  4. oh how I loved this post! I am a friend of Amy Bruce's and she passed this on to me. I have one like Finley and I have realized they smell our fear. lol!
    Hope your trip was unforgettable in so many ways!! Hang in there lady!

  5. Dawn, was thinking of you and the kids today and wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We have some darling pictures of the kids from Camp Cross- can you email me again and I'll email you the pictures? jess dot smith at comcast dot net. :)
    I love the blog, your writing, and the way your heart shows through on every post. You are an inspiration.