I have a new respect for parents travelling with young children. I just spent an hour in the security line at a major airport and had the opportunity of watching parents with their children of various ages, snaking through security. It could be a reality show on parenting!
There are some blessings to being an “older parent” and this new “normal” of going through security is one of the times I am happy to have self sufficient children. I remember just trying to get my young children on the plane (pre-security days) with all of their stuff, including blankies, toys, juice boxes, and snacks. Even then, everyone had their own backpack and we were always trying to make sure that the correct backpack was with the correct child, which would help limit any fighting as we headed to the board the plane.
I always tried to dress the boys in matching clothes for trips (much to their chagrin) so that I could “find my 3 children” a little more easily as one was always trying to scurry away despite admonitions to hold their brother’s hand. (Zone defense with 3).
Today, I watched a family in front of me navigate the security line with a stroller, 2 car seats, a huge bag of all sorts of stuff, as well as their two children, both of whom were under the age of 4.
The parent’s did a beautiful job of getting through the first security checkpoint with everyone’s passport, and holding up said child when requested to match their passport. But by that time the children were growing restless, as were many adults, as this line length was quite similar to those at Disneyland, but with no promise of Space Mountain ahead.
As we snaked our way towards the scanners the children began to “lose it”. Most impressively, the parents did a great job controlling the chaos. Some of the funniest moments (easy for me to say) came when the little girl, probably aged 18 months, was holding her dad’s passport and looking at his picture saying, “Daddy, Daddy”, and I am sure the dad thought,” give her anything that will entertain her.” But after she became bored with the picture she started to tear out a page of the passport!! Hysterical to watch the parent’s trying to negotiate getting back the passport with all pages intact, it was like “Let’s Make a Deal”.
In the meantime the older brother, noticing that the parents were otherwise occupied, decided it was a great time to start “bugging” his little sister by grabbing her legs as she dangled from her Mom’s hip. About that time we were finally reaching the scanner and the poor parent’s were trying to unload everything into the bins. Just as the Mom was trying to get the little girl’s shoes off I heard, “if you touch your sister one more time you are……..”, as the little boy ran ahead to go through the metal detector, only to be returned because he had escaped without taking off his shoes!
The next meltdown came in the line next to ours as another child had to relinquish her stuffed bear to go through the scanner. This child, who was attached at the hip to the bear, appropriately started screaming, only to be whisked through the metal detector in the mother’s arms with a hand over her little mouth.
Somehow this family, as well as many others around me, navigated all of that stuff through the security line, scanners and metal detectors while managing to emerge on the other side with the not only the correct children but with their shoes, car seats, strollers, stuffed animals, and bags of provisions to get through a flight.
I have a new respect for all of those families who are travelling this summer. I think that in order to travel with children it might be wise to have a new play activity at home prior to your trip. Instead of the play kitchen, get the play “security scanner center” where you can practice disrobing and filling bins with stuff. I know Fischer Price is listening.
What’s your family strategy for smooth travel? Let me know! I would love to share them with everyone!