Monday, April 26, 2004

Toddlers and Flying 

I flew to an interview on Thursday. On the second leg of my trip, I sat next to a 23-month-old child and her mother. I have to say that I was anxious. I have been on flights with young children and would rather take a trip to the dentist. Many of you have probably had a similar experience. The discomfort and crying of the child combined with my anxiety of flying is enough to trigger my worst mood.

I have to say that competent parenting overcomes all. The child was a true pleasure. I could not tell if she was uncomfortable during the flight. I did share my window with her, but the clouds ruined the view for most of the trip. Her mother had two types of cookies for her to chew. I offered some gum to help with ear-pressure, but the cookies worked. She was lively and could not be still for a long period of time and that is absolutely normal for a child her age. We sang a few songs (The Wheels on the Bus). We talked about Dora the Explorer. I gave her my pen and she wrote in the SkyMall catalog. Her mother was very accomodating and did not mind my interaction with her daughter. Truly a joy.

On the return trip, I was feeling good. I loved the location and faculty of the interview. I was playing out the possibilities in my mind. Then, a 4-year-old brought my world crashing down to earth. I was wearing my best, dark-blue suit for the interview and had not had an opportunity to change. I took off the tie though (it is not the heat, it's the humidity). As I approached the seats at the gate, the boy noticed me. He leaned over the row of seats and asked if I was the pilot. White shirt, dark suit, dress shoes, no tie. He was right. I looked like the pilot. His parents apologized and started to explain, but their flight started boarding. I just sat there with a bemused look on my face. No, I am not the pilot. But I dressed like one for the most important interview of my life. And I hate to fly.

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