Friday, August 17, 2007

Baby on Board

When you walk onto an airplane with a baby, you immediately become the object of raised eyebrows and heavy sighs. And now that America has mobilized into the anti-Elly-Kulesza camp (she’s the 3-year-old who got her family kicked off the plane for throwing a tantrum last January), we parents are feeling particularly scrutinized.

We hadn’t flown with Peapod since she had learned to crawl, so I was a little nervous. ‘A little nervous’ meaning that I was having visions of her somehow crawling onto the beverage cart and riding it down the aisle while simultaneously screaming and knocking people upside the head.

This did not happen. There was, however, one incident worth mentioning.

It started with the telltale poopy diaper smell. There are a handful of smells that every human recognizes immediately: pot smoke, cat pee, chocolate chip cookies, spoiled milk, and poopy diapers. Sure enough, about three hours into the flight, there it was. My Esposo, who is one of those annoyingly good sleepers, was in fact asleep, which meant that I was holding the proverbial short straw.

Ignoring the slight turbulence that had recently begun, I tossed the 38-pound diaper bag over my shoulder, hoisted the smelly baby and headed for the bathroom. I pulled down the diaper changing table, plopped Peapod on top and got to work. Once the stinky diaper was disposed of and the actual baby was clean, it was time to get a new diaper back on. By this time, however, Peapod had grown weary of the transaction and began to object by rolling over, kicking and generally being very crabby and loud. The kid wanted to stand up, which she technically cannot do yet without leaning on something, but this was no deterrent to her, even in the face of increasing turbulence and the threat of falling into an airplane toilet.

So like any reasonable parent, I gave up and let her do what she wanted to: stand. And like any reasonable baby not wearing a diaper, standing on a changing table in an airplane bathroom, and flying through turbulence, she did what she wanted to: pee. All over the changing table.

In an effort to be somewhat humane to the next mommy passenger, I grabbed a bunch of paper towels and wet them in a feeble attempt to clean up the mess. Yes, I know, that’s why god made baby wipes, but that container had already fallen onto the floor (the hygienic ramifications of which I have since blocked from my memory). So now I’m holding a squirming, standing baby with no diaper, frantically wiping the changing table and praying for the turbulence to stop.

I have a tendency on these sorts of occasions to drift outside my own body and view the ongoing events from the viewpoint of an unscathed bystander who is somehow floating nearby. The visual made me erupt into a fit uncontrollable giggles. Not the good kind like when you’re with friends and you’re all laughing together at the same joke. The bad kind like where you’re sitting in the back row in physics class and you can’t stop giggling at your friend who is making fake barfing sounds that everyone else thinks are immature and totally unfunny. This went on until Peapod’s wet feet slipped out from under her and she bonked her little noggin on the wall. It wasn’t a hard hit, but it knocked the giggles right out of me.

At last, I got my act together, strapped a diaper on my kid and got out of there. I was feeling pretty pleased with my triumph-against-all-odds until I saw the line of four people waiting for the bathroom. Hoping for a high-five for my efforts, I instead got several raised eyebrows and a sigh. Oh well. At least we didn’t end up on the Today Show.

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