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The Swerds Circus Goes Airborne    

This year our flight will be twice as long, and you had better believe that I double- and triple-checked our tickets

WE are going away for Succos this year.

There. I said it out loud.

That means it’s happening.

Of course, by the time you read this, we will have already gone away for Succos this year. (If we didn’t, I can tell you right now what my next column will be about.)

Sometimes we make decisions that are overwhelming or difficult or stressful, like traveling with a bunch of boys for a bunch of hours, and we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter and maybe it won’t be so bad; we’ll just bring all the snacks in the world and power through the rough parts because it’s worth it.

And, of course, it’s worth it.

But let’s be honest, it is not for the faint of heart.

WEtraveled last year for Succos, too.

It was our very first time taking the Swerds Circus into the air, and it was not what you would call uneventful.

Before we left, I planned, I packed, I strategized.

I outfitted each child with his own knapsack complete with a change of clothing (just in case), snacks, crafts, books, and toys to entertain them as we traveled five and a half hours to the West Coast. Luggage was organized, tagged, and finally wheeled to curbside check-in. And that’s when we discovered that our seats would somehow, inexplicably, be individual seats scattered throughout the plane.

Please keep in mind that my children had never flown before.

And now they were going to experience their first flight with popping eardrums, possible motion sickness, and turbulence, all alone in the company of strangers?

That did not seem like a good idea at all.

We told the curbside-check-in guy that there must be some mistake with our tickets. He reassured us that they would be able to handle it at the gate.

So we hustled everyone through security, walked a million miles to our gate, and went straight to the woman behind the desk. She looked at our tickets and said, “Don’t worry about it. The flight attendants will take care of it on the plane.”

Why this didn’t ring all the alarms in our heads is a mystery, but my husband and I boarded the (totally packed) plane, and made the flight attendants aware of the fact that two parents and their many children were not seated anywhere near each other. When I tell you that the flight attendants looked at us like we had just asked them to perform open-heart surgery on the rolling coffee cart, that would not be an exaggeration.

“What in the world are we supposed to do about your seats now? It’s going to be up to the other passengers on the plane if they want to switch seats with you.”

Spoiler alert: They did not.

We had five minutes to ask (beg) people to switch seats with us or else we would have to disembark and try to get seats together on another flight.

Baruch Hashem, a few passengers agreed to move so that I was able to sit with some of the younger kids, while my two bigger kids were braving it on their own.

Where was my husband? Well, he was sitting with my then four-year-old. You’ve met him — his antics have graced these pages more than a few times, each story more unbelievable than the last and yet every single one true.

How did his first flight go?

I’m glad you asked.

Upset at not being able to run up and down the aisle, he made sure everyone felt his frustration, and he literally crawled the walls of the plane.

My husband apologetically bought everyone sitting in his row an alcoholic beverage.

It was a very necessary gesture and not one person replied with, “No, no, really, we’re fine.”

Because they were not fine, and the drinks did help make it a little better. We all finally arrived on the West Coast with only a few scars from the whole experience.

This year our flight will be twice as long, and you had better believe that I double- and triple-checked our tickets. We are all definitely sitting together.

But here’s the thing: Remember the four-year-old? Well, he’s five now and his traveling skills have not improved a drop. If anything, they’ve only gotten worse. Do I really want to be sitting next to him on a plane for a million hours? Not at all.

And that’s why I came up with a brilliant plan.

What if we buy only one business- class ticket and give it to the five-year-old?

Then we can tell the flight attendant, “Clearly this child is an unaccompanied minor, because it appears that his mother is reluctant to accompany him. However, for the price of a business-class ticket, surely someone is available to keep an eye on him up there. Look, I wish I could help but my ticket says ‘Economy’ on it, and there’s a really heavy curtain separating the two sections on the plane. I’ll see him when we touch down at our destination. Thanks so much, this is going to be such a great flight, I can feel it.”

Unfortunately, my husband does not share my enthusiasm over this brilliant plan.

He’s convinced that we can’t accompany our five-year-old minor onto the plane and then un-accompany him.

I said we won’t know that unless we try.

He said it might be a rough flight, but we can do hard things, and anyway, it will be worth it.

I said we’ll see.

To be honest, I’m kind of hoping our trip isn’t print-worthy. But watch this space.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 863)

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