A 6:05 a.m. flight always seems like a good idea when you’re booking flights – “We’ll get there early and not waste a whole day of travel.” However, it’s not until the few days before, or in our case, the night before, when you realize it also means you have to physically be in the car by 4 a.m. to make said flight on time. This also means a 3:30 a.m. wake up call (at the latest), and that’s never fun – no matter where you’re headed or what age you are.

Of course, I barely slept as so often happens the night before an early trip. Grace cried when we woke her. And wouldn’t stop. Kenny and Gavin seemed to fare fine; apparently just the Clark ladies were on edge. Haha.

Needless to say, we got started a little later than planned, and arrived at the airport just 30 minutes before boarding. As a result, we got to re-enact the running through the airport scene from Home Alone. I really love that movie, so it was like a dream come true being able to do a live action scene from it. (It wasn’t. I do like the movie, but running through the airport is terrible in any and all situations. Period.)

Two things:

  1. I love moments when I am fully cognizant that I am from Philadelphia. I am sure by now you’ve all seen the bumper stickers / tee shirts that proclaim, “I’m not angry. I am from Philly.” Well, let me tell you, nothing brings out the Philadelphia in me more than rushing through the airport with a Grace that refuses to move her feet faster than a snail’s pace through crowds of people that were more prepared than us and had time to mosey through the airport. I try very, very hard to be patient with her and encourage her to keep up vs. grabbing her by the arm and dragging her along with me. My gut totally wants to do that. My mom heart knows that would be bad. So I resist, and, through my Philadelphian scowl, try to smile back at all the lovely families and older couples who smile endearingly at the “lovely” Clark family trudging through the airport with two car seats, two kids, three adult backpacks, one child backpack, one purse and 159 beads of sweat glistening on our collective foreheads because we effectively just ran a 5K through PDX while pointedly telling Grace -through gritted teeth- she’s putting us at greater risk for missing our plane. (Actually, now that I just typed all that out, I am thinking their smiles are more because they are either pulling a Nelson and thinking ‘Haahaa! Suckers.’ or sympathetic to our trying-to-have-a-fun-family-vacation-but-really-this-is-a-crazy-amount-of-work cause. Lord help the first child to whine. About anything. Haha.)
  1. We were four out of the last seven folks to board the plane. Awesome. This sucked because we paid for Early Boarding (Southwest). It sucked even more because there were only middle seats left. On the entire plane. Yay. This means we had to rely on some kind travelers to switch seats so each child was paired with a parent. (Hey, airline rules, not mine. I think. Haha.) One gentleman quickly offered his aisle seat to us. Which then caused another guy to take the middle seat next to his wife to accommodate the nice guy who gave up his seat. Pay it forward in action. We thanked them all profusely. His kindness continued as he commented, “Hey, it’s only a seat right? Short flight. You should be with the kids.” So nice. Then nothing happened. Two of us could sit together. Two of us were still relying on the kindness of others. The flight attendant made an announcement that made me sound like the sorriest sad sack ever, “Good morning, folks. We’ve got a mom back here with a young child and they need to sit together. I’m hoping one of you will offer to switch seats. I’ll buy you a drink.” No one moved a muscle. Then a kind gal raised her hand, but at the same time, the gal in the third seat of the row in which we’d already secured two seats offered to move up and sit with the rest of her family. Woo hoo! I took the kids and Kenny went to the front of the plane in a delightful, kid-free middle seat which I am sure also came with a side of guilt that I was stuck with the two hooligans. I don’t mind. They are pretty tame. Most of the time. 🙂

All of this made me realize something. Traveling is hard. And you really are quite reliant on the general traveling population throughout your trip – particularly on planes. I have a few examples where this is true, and I’ll share them later. But applying this to our Spring Break flights, we needed people to share seats they had chosen. We were late. It was our fault. So it was strange to have to ask others to be kind to accommodate us. I wonder what would have happened if no one volunteered? Anyway…

It seemed most people tended to rely on the kindness of others when it was game time. I am quite sure that, had I been traveling on business by myself, I would have heard that flight attendant and waited it out, hoping that someone would be slightly nicer than me and raise their hand. I would have eventually raised my hand, but I would have played the bench and hoped the kindness A-team showed up. Having lived through the anxious moments of worrying how things would play out, I will definitely raise my hand if ever faced with this. It’s an easy thing to do to give someone peace of mind and help their trip be just a little bit better, right?

In the end, we made it just fine, but Grace’s car seat didn’t. No clue how that happened, because we checked it right along side of Gavin’s and his was the first thing on the baggage shoot.

They flew Grace’s seat down to San Diego separately – which I find kind of hilarious! They gave us a loaner and then drove our car seat to our hotel. While annoying, it didn’t affect us at all – and they provided great customer service.

My favorite part of vacation so far?

Grace leaned over to me on the way into San Diego, wrapped her little arm behind mine, and rested her hand in the crook of elbow. She put her head on my upper arm, looked up at me, smiled and said, “I’m glad we’re on vacation.”

All worth it. 🙂


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