5am baby wakes up and feeds. Build pillow fort around her to ensure she doesn’t fall out and break her arm. No time for a trip to A&E today. Pad downstairs to enjoy a quiet cup of tea, feel smug that bags are already in the car and apart from dressing the kids we are good to go. Enter the kitchen where last night’s, ok all of yesterdays, washing up is stacked in the dishwasher zone, the space above the largely empty dishwasher. Grrr. Notice that pile of a few small extra things to take with us on the kitchen would probably fill another hold all. Make tea. No milk. Abandon tea. Time for a shower. Use shower thinking time to decide if it was acceptable to give the children Piriton before the flight.
Wake up toddler by singing “Leaving on a jet plane”,told in no uncertain terms to go away. Decide to leave her to it. Head down to dress the baby. Wrong choice judging by tantrum which became the soundtrack to our morning routine.
2 hours later everyone is dressed and in the car, toddler still not happy about it, husband is moaning that we are taking too much stuff and the bigger buggy barely fits in the car. “I’ve only hired a CUV” “It will be fine, everything is bigger in America, probably an A team van” I’m half way through whistling the theme song to the A team, remember food in fridge so jump out of car and pack it into two bags for life. Decide to give it to our neighbour. Which seemed like a neighbourly gesture until I was stood in front of them holding out a bag of food which looked like the back table offering at a harvest festival apologising for the out of date smoked salmon, its not out of date it’s just been defrosted. We are on the move waving to bemused neighbour as toddler’s screams stream out of our car.
45 minutes later we arrive at Gatwick. Spent the 45 minute drive describing the journey in minute detail, a little pearl of mumsnet wisdom to help avoid toddler travel sickness. It had the added benefit of being able to indirectly comment on their Dad’s speed and poor lane discipline. Dad thinks mumsnet is full of shit.
Breezed through security, as much as you can breeze through the second class citizen line reserved for parents traveling with families. Some political correctness department at the airport head office called it the special assistance line, probably the same geniuses who invented the airport push chairs and then promptly forgot to order any. “Madame is this your bag?” “Yes,it’s a nappy bag?” He produced the Piriton as if he had just found a knife in the lining. “Sorry Madame, you can’t take that through.” I wasn’t really going to use it. Imagine?
The Toddler is in her element on the plane watching back to back episodes of Peppa Pig and eating whatever she wants from a massive selection of bribery snacks.
Four hours into the flight and the baby has soiled all of her spare outfits and a few of her sister’s. Active fit nappies do not cater for her trans Atlantic explosions. “Give her to me”, I say in a bid to calm her screaming down after she grabs her dad’s red wine glass and throws it on them both. “You’ll get red wine on your jumper” “Don’t worry I think I’ve already got shit on it” we laugh so loudly we wake up most of the people we were worried she was in danger of disturbing in time to see him pass a red wine stained baby across the aisle. She bites me on the shoulder and draws blood. “She’s tired” offers husband reassuringly. Tired? I’m starting to worry that she might be feral.
The toddler is jumping around like a terrier on Ritalin in the immigration queue. She starts having melt down in front of the immigration official because I can’t carry her and be finger printed. Despite having nothing more than a congestion charge between us we approach immigration as though we are south east London’s answer to Pablo Escobar. Sweetheart you have to behave yourself, he has a gun!” Feel immediately guilty for threatening her with a gun for wanting to be carried.
Laden down with 4 cases, 2 car seats, 2 children strapped into 1 buggy with 3 wheels, unlike our last family flight, we are in minus a multipack of Dairylea dunkers which customs deemed too dangerous. Go triumphantly in search of our big American van. Sit patiently with the babies in our Kia Sportage while husband dismantles and hands me buggy parts to distribute around the car so we can fit it in.
17 hours of traveling later we arrive at our destination. He looks back lovingly at the sleeping cherubs. “They did really well today” he says as a wave of parental amnesia washes over us, “Look at them, they are shattered, they will sleep well tonight, hopefully will help with the jet lag”