I was about to press ‘flush’ but the second whack to my face put the situation into some sort of ironic perspective. ‘Get the glasses out first,’ I said at volume, ’get the glasses out first…’
This was in response to one aspect of a heap of all the things I’d never anticipated when travelling with a baby, way after the shock of the sheer quantity of additional luggage we’d have to carry. The better half and I are used to kicking a rucksack under the plane seat and ordering more wine, not teetering up and down stairs en route to the departure lounge with a pram, four overweight bags and a screaming child after dropping off a car-sized suitcase at check-in recently relieved of a bunch of electronic ephemera because it was three kilos overweight.
In all fairness this lack of our understanding of howitworkswithababyonaplane wasn’t entirely our fault. No one tells you anything and you’re so busy sticking to a schedule and sorting all the things conducive to travelling that you don’t think to ask until it’s in your face. Take the pram for example, I didn’t know you had to physically hand it to a man on the tarmac before boarding and that you’d have no idea were to find it post-landing. Indeed, on the three flights we took it was in three different mystery locations on landing that needed skilfully seeking out.
As for the baby on the plane, he flies for free so he doesn’t get a seat. Instead he’s expected to sit on a lap, held fast by a strap that attaches to the buckle of the parent holding him. This is all well and dandy for 20 minutes but after an hour the kid becomes a crushing weight that kills all feeling to the lower legs so when you finally free yourself of the charge to go for a piss your legs don’t work and you’re floundering in the aisle like an utter arsehole with accusing eyes peering up at you from little blue chairs, the same eyes that were petrified with fear when we boarded the plane in case we were going to sit by them.
I’ll be blunt, children under the age of ten shouldn’t be allowed on planes, especially babies, so you thought I’d have been sympathetic to my fellow passengers as we approached them babe-in-arms searching for our seats. Far from it, I took great care to give the impression I was going to sit down right next to them and did nothing to dissuade the little boy from griping and moaning either, I even thrust him toward the ones that look particularly offended at the sight of a long-haired, tattooed man brandishing a small infant. The lady sat in the aisle seat in our row didn’t even wait to find out if the kid was about to blow or not, she just took off and sat as far away as possible, the bastard.
So there I am an hour into the flight wobbling to the toilet to change the little fella following a cacophonous evacuation that blew shit out both sides of his nappy. You may have noticed the baby change board housed sink-side in any given aircraft khazi, having been freed from its moorings it sits about two feet over the steel toilet, handy for changing a baby, hinderance if you need to micturate. Its not as if you can just put the baby on the floor/in the sink and re-patriate the board- so, if you need to pee, you have to contort yourself in such a way that your relative part is in the vicinity of the bog before pushing out the offending fluid with enough pressure and conviction to ensure it reaches its target. The correct position means that your face is practically level with the changing board, great for keeping an eye on your charge, not so good when he kicks you in the fucking face, knocking the glasses off your nose and dropping them into the loo that you’re currently filling with hot piss.
Despite this, it’s worth noting his behaviour was impeccable on the three flights we took over the fortnight. The hire car was a different story.