Traveling With Kids (or Why I’d Rather Have a Root Canal)

My view while trying to enjoy a drink in coach

Coming right on the heals of family holiday trips, I think we can all agree that the truth about modern-day family travel is that we secretly all hate modern-day family travel. If only we could beam ourselves to our destinations like they do on Star Trek, we’d all be as adventurous as Lewis and Clark. But now with less flights, more connections, TSA, full body scans, luggage searches, and not being able to bring large amounts of liquids or ointments on a plane because some crazy terrorist might pilfer it from your diaper bag and use it for God knows what (“I’m sorry, ma’am, but this 6 ounces of Desitin butt cream is classified as a felony weapon”), air travel with kids has become about as much fun as a root canal.

I Speak From Experience

One of my sets of parents lives in the British Virgin Islands, so of course, we’ve been taking our kids down there since they could barely walk. But it literally takes four plane rides and 22 hours of travel just to get there. This includes sitting around countless airport lounges watching talk-show pundits pontificate in Spanish, French, or Dutch (and sometimes English) on airport TVs with really bad reception. I’m a creative person, but there are only so many ways you can play peekaboo or I Spy with even the most patient of toddlers.

Case in point, one time my younger son (who was then six) started whining in the San Juan airport because I allowed his older brother (who had just turned 10) to help my husband hoist our carry-on bags onto a conveyer belt for one of our many TSA searches. Apparently this was a coveted task.

Click on graphic to find your seat

“You let him do everything, and I don’t get to do anything!” exclaimed my younger son.

“He’s older, so he gets to do stuff first,” I replied logically.

“I never get to do anything!”

“You’ll get to do the same things he does when you reach his age.”

“Why do you give him everything he wants?”

“I don’t!” I barked back loudly, quickly coming to the end of my last raw nerve.

“Yes, you do! How come he gets everything?”

That did it. Something in me snapped, and the filter (which has worn thin over the years) that usually intercepts the steady stream of smart-ass remarks that runs through my head like a ticker tape completely disappeared.

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, because we like him best, okay?” I yelled, knowing that would put an end to it.

As expected, my son made an annoyed face and grumpily put his nose in a book, very accustomed to my brand of sarcasm.

My kids in a Caribbean paradise

However, the older Puerto Rican lady who had been sitting next to him listening to this exchange was not (accustomed to my sarcasm, that is). She looked at me with wide, accusing eyes that seemed to say, “How could you?”

I just stoically glared back at her and said, “Well, we do. Like te other one best, I mean.”

Then she got up and gruffly stormed off.

Sweet Jesus in short pants, whatever it takes. At least I finally got some short-term peace. In a world where it takes every ounce of energy I have to get my kids from A to B, sometimes the end does justify the means.

Whoever said “Half the fun is getting there” never had to take two car seats, a stroller, a box of Huggies, six puzzles, a Game Boy, crayons, coloring books, saltines, juice boxes, two tired toddlers, and a partridge in pear tree on an international flight in coach. I think all that alone allows me to say whatever the hell I want while traveling the tricky road of parenthood.

Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage. For more of her comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom.

(Airplane Seating Chart graphic courtesy of See more Funny Graphs.)