We've been home for several days now, and though Ethan is still waking at ungodly-ish hours, we are otherwise back in our daily routine of pre-school, play dates, intermittent potty-training and way more Noggin than some would approve of. Life is good.
So was our trip. For the most part. We stayed with family and friends, basked in the cool, cloudy weather that is the East coast in the spring, visited some of our old stomping grounds, enjoyed a fabulous Saturday afternoon BBQ with our nearest and dearest friends, revisited our weekly playgroup and caught up with some of my favorite moms and their amazing kids, and generally felt peaceful and at home in our surroundings, as though no time had passed.
This is of course excluding the drive by our currently rented house, where we noticed the tenants, who are supposedly real life rocket scientist types, have put a tiki torch on our front porch. The front porch with a wooden overhang and roof. The roof that currently has black scorch marks immediately above said tiki torch. I asked Husband if we had fire insurance because what could be less cool than our tennants burning our house to the ground?
But in good news, the Squirrel Mansion I used to kvetch about during my pregnancy (the abandoned, boarded up house next door to ours) is currently and finally condemned, so with any luck it will be torn down and gone by the time we can sell our house and our property value won't be adversely impacted. Although, in true bleeding heart form, I am concerned about where all those poor squirrels will live once the place gets demolished. Well, as long as they don't try to set up shop in my walls or attic; then my bleeding heart gets overtaken by the agony of my bleeding wallet and I'd happily blow the little fuckers up with the condemned house (okay, that's not really true, but still...squirrels, stay away from my hoooooooouse!!!)
We spent 5 days in MD/DC/VA and then Husband hopped a flight back to LA for work and Ethan and I drove with my dad down to South Carolina to spend a few more days with family before heading back to LA. Let's just say that parenting in front of one's parents can present some interesting challenges. Especially when one's parenting style is slightly or vastly different from one's parents. Especially when one is without their significant other, and their pre-schooler (he's not even really a toddler anymore, is it?) has just hit the phase of "Let me see if I can get my way by throwing screaming fits and tantrums and whining until you want to gouge your eardrums out with forks just to make it stop". For the record, he doesn't get his way, and I have yet to gouge my eardrums out, but I have definitely eyes the forks longingly when we're in the middle of one of these epic battle of wills. And they are infinitely worse when they happen in front of the judging eyes of ones own parents, whether that judgment is perceived or real.
There were countless wonderful moments in the trip, not the least of which were the beautiful golf-cart drives just before sunset over the golf course where my mom let Ethan sit on her lap and steer the cart with her. As they drove the cart on the path over the marsh to the 13th hole, I couldn't help but sit back (in spite of my history of generally loathing golf) and think that this was one of the greatest childhood memories Ethan will have, and how peaceful and beautiful and wonderful it was to have this opportunity.
Having my mom share what is essentially her element with Ethan brought me back to my own grandmother trying to teach me how to latch hook on one of her giant rugs, or plant flowers in her garden, or draw with pastels---sadly all things I never quite got the hang of, but that made me love my grandmother with a swelling, awe-filled love that I never let go of. Perhaps Ethan will never be a great golfer (which is pretty much a foregone conclusion given that he handled his toy golf club and wiffle golf balls more like they were an oversized game of tiddley-winks than golf), but those moments of driving the course with my mother, yelling, "hi birdies!!!" as we passed lounging snowy egrets and stopping to quietly watch people tee off at whatever hole we were approaching, will weave their way into his memory forever, I hope.
Okay, but enough of that waxing poetic stuff. Can we talk about the trip home? Where I traveled, alone with Ethan, from South Carolina to Los Angeles? This in and of itself would not be a horrible thing; Ethan is a fairly good traveler--give him some stickers and DVD of Dora and he's pretty much self-sufficient for a good portion of any flight. But when you add Delta Airlines to the mix? You basically get an travel disaster of epic proportions (hello, hyperbole, my old friend; I've missed you!).
We left Myrtle Beach on the tiniest plane ever. Thank god that as we were walking across the tarmac to climb up the stairs of the teeny tiny plane, Ethan decided to be the cool, brave kid who was jazzed by the idea of being on a plane that was small enough to probably fit snugly into his toy box at home. I, on the other hand, nearly took us both plummeting down the steps to our deaths (okay, maybe just to our sprained ankles) as I tried to carry him and our two carry-ons up the ridiculously steep stairs to the plane. As an aside, "Thank you Delta flight attendent, for watching me struggle up each and every step with my unbalanced load of cargo, and not once even considering to offer me a hand as you stood at the top step, smiling. Had I known that your aloof disregard for your customer was an indication of your entire organization's general suckiness, I would have stepped off the plane right then and booked a flight home on a different carrier."
We were supposed to be leaving early (a Delta habit that was to bite me in the ass later in the day), but ended up sitting on the tarmac for upwards of 30 minutes so we could let a couple of fighter jets take off. Don't get me started. Don't we have military bases for that kind of stuff? And then, when we got into the air in our tiny almost-not-even-really-a-plane plane, we ended up circling Atlanta for 45 minutes for some reason that never became clear to me.
What did become clear to me was that said random circling was going to jeopardize our connecting flight. The pilot told us we'd be landing at 2:30 in terminal D. Our connecting flight was at 2:40, from terminal A. Very few people in this world suck at math as badly as me, and even I knew that was not a good equation. So I flagged down a flight attendant to ask him if he knew anything about the connections, figuring he might tell me that they were aware of the delays and were holding other flights, or that there'd be someone at our gate when we landed to call ahead and let them know that people needing connections were on their way---you know, things normal airlines do when they've made their customers late to connections and whatnot. Basic customer service type things. It's not like I was expecting anyone to bend the time-space contiuum to give me those 45 minutes back or anything; I mean, I'm reasonable.
So when I said to him, "Excuse me. I have a connecting flight at 2:40," you can imagine my reaction when the only response out of his mouth as he scoffed his way by me was, "That's not my problem."
Jaw. Dropping. Blood. Pressure. Rising.
If I hadn't been seat-belted and trying to entertain Ethan, I probably would have gotten up and chased him up the teeny tiny hallway, shaking a finger at him and telling him that's not a nice way to talk to your paying customers. I was that angry. Indignant old-lady angry. But I'm one of those people who adheres freakishly to all lighted placards, so I stayed seated with my seatbelt securely fastened and muttered angrily under my breath. Crazy old-lady angry.
We landed just before 2:30 and the few people on the plane with us parted for us like the Red Sea to let us get off to make our connection. I am eternally grateful to them for their kindness, but given we were trying to make a Delta connection, fat lot of good it did us.
I strapped Ethan into the Ergo (one serious bonus of having a 24lb almost 3 year old), our carry ons, and ran. Ran to the shuttle. Ran off the shuttle. Ran up an escalator, huffing, "excuse me", "excuse me" the whole way up. Ran to the gate. Stopped running at the closed door to the jetway. At 2:36. Four minutes before the plane was set to take off. Barely breathing. No one in sight. Tickets in my hand.
When the Delta person finally emerged from the jet way, I literally begged to be let on the plane. He said, "Sorry. The plane's full. You were late." Meanwhile, Ethan is whining in my ear, "I want my daddy. Where's daddy?" He was under the impression that getting off the plane meant the trip was over and we were running to meet Husband, not another plane. Poor bean.
If the flight attendant on the first plane made my blood pressure rise, this guy sent me somewhere between apopletictic and homocidal rage. I tried to be as nice as I could whilst begging for our rightful place on the plane, explaining that it's not like I was late because stopped off for a latte, made a phone call and lost track of time. I pointed out that it was THEIR plane that was late getting me here in the first place and that my tickets had been purchased more than a month ago (sorry to pull rank on the stand-by flyers of the world, but really).
When it became obvious to me that this guy was just a colossal dick and wasn't going to help me, I let stomped off to the ironically named "Delta Help Desk." I believe my parting words to him were, "You people are fucking useless!", and I hoped the whole way to the help desk that he didn't walkie-talkie ahead and give them a description of me for further screwing over.
At the "help" desk, I was initially told that they would put me on a 9:30am flight the following morning. This, thankfully, may have been when the anger drained from me and the tears started instead. I took a deep breath and said to the woman in my best damsel-in-distress-near-tears voice, "I don't have a carseat. I can't leave the airport. I can't keep my kid in the airport overnight. I don't have enough diapers. I need to get on a plane today! Pleeeeeeease."
More flies with honey. Thank goodness, she put us on a flight that just moments before she had called "completely full" (how the freaking hell do they do this shit???!!!), and we were sent with new boarding passes to Gate 27 to wait for another 2 hours.
We were seated in the midst of a group of teenage boys traveling home from spring break. For the tiniest of moments I missed teaching high school. High school boys are the best, and I don't mean that in a Mary Kay LaTourneau kind of way--they were just funny and sweet to Ethan and were a nice change of pace from your average business traveler.
In some sort of Karmic way, I should have known not to fly Delta. A few years ago, I participated in the nurse-in protests that were held across the country after a Delta flight attendant booted a nursing mother off a plane before take off for refusing to cover up her nursing child with an airplane blanket. I should have known the Delta gods were just waiting to fuck with me. Oh well. Never again.
Pictures? You want pictures? You got 'em....
Ethan's first ride on the twirling tea cups. Still not sure if it was a hit or miss. But at least there was no vomiting.