Taming the Beast

They don't have tornados in Washington, D.C. very often, but when they do you can rest assured I'm trying to catch a flight that day. A violent cluster of thunderstorms whipped through the Dulles area a week ago yesterday and put the smack down on Dulles airport about three hours before our departure. We had all 15 bags packed. The hotel room key was turned in. I'd spent all my American change on Twix bars. We were ready to catch the airport shuttle. I was dressed in my Ready-ToWrestle-With-Cranky-Children-For-25-Hours-On-An-Airplane clothes. But alas. Mother nature opened a can and our flight was cancelled.

Normally I deal with disappointment and stress by beating pillows or verbally abusing hand towels. But the new, more docile me responded by taking a twenty out of the ATM and downing several Cokes. "Drown your sorrows," is my new motto I learned from re-runs of Cheers.

We re-booked our hotel room, re-unpacked, and numbly watched Animal Planet until late at night, nursing glasses of tepid water, not sure whether we'd live or die. Or, at least not sure whether we'd catch a flight the next day or not. I reserve the right to overdramatize my posts if I so fancy.

The Dutch carrier KLM offered a suitable flight at 5:30 the next evening so we jumped onboard. Shannon and Savannah sat together, and Halen I paired up. He watched out the window contentedly for 10 minutes after the plane took off. That left 7 hours, 50 minutes for me to wrangle with him.

He read an airplane book for 45 seconds. He watched Bob the Builder for 2.5 minutes. He chugged a sippy cup of juice for 2 more minutes. He stared at the woman in the row in front of us for 30 seconds. I kept thinking he'd fall asleep. He kept not.

Savannah, on the other hand, happily watched KLM's in-flight library of cartoons. She said sweet things to mommy. She ate her dinner without throwing it. She fell asleep peacefully. I wondered if I'd inadvertently sinned egregiously and was thus being punished accordingly.

Upon landing in Amsterdam, we spent our 6 hour layover camped on a row of rigid, sterile seats in front of a massive window overlooking the docking area. Little Dutch men and women in neutral blue uniforms and electric orange and yellow vests scurried about and drove compact airport vehicles in snaking patterns across the tarmac. Halen stood with his nose to the glass, transfixed. I stared at the back of my eyelids, transfixed.

The flight to Amman on Royal Jordanian airlines was more pleasant. Arab hospitality ruled the day. While the European attendents on KLM spent the flight curtained off in the rear of the plane, sipping ale left over from last year's Oktoberfest, the RJ attendents insisted I sit with them when I let a word or two of Arabic slip from my lips. They lavished Halen with attention, crackers, and a magnetic mini chess board. He fell asleep midway through the flight. I rewarded myself for dealing with him for 20 sleepless hours by watching Happy Feet.