We all went to NY.
That just doesn’t do it justice, let me try again. We ALL went to New York.
WE ALL WENT TO NEW YORK.
When I say we all, I mean me, my husband, my kids, 7 carry-ons, 5 backpacks, 1 diaper bag, 1 food tote bag, 2 suitcases, 2 carriages, 3 carseats and one plastic shopping bag full of odds and ends that didn’t fit in anywhere else.
We ALL went to NY.
And we ALL came back, plus a third piece of luggage.
After purchasing 8 tickets – thankfully two are still lap kids – I decided to go the “economical route” (which I knew I’d regret) and pack a bunch of carry-ons and pay for very few pieces, my way of getting even with the airlines for charging for luggage to begin with.
In a way it felt more organized, a carry-on of coats, a carry-on of Shabbos shoes etc.
So there we were, all assembled and ready to go. One carry-on and one backpack per kid. One stroller, carry-on, suitcase and car seat per adult, and we made our grand entrance into the airport. All was good and well until we got to security. That’s always my breaking point.
We made it this far, we got all our stuff together, the kids are all pulling their assigned luggage pieces…and now we have to take it all apart.
One by one, it all unravels. Sweaters and backpacks and carseats and strollers and water bottles and snacks and laptops and cellphones…it doesn’t end. I was worried one of the kids would hop on the conveyor belt for the ride too, and I wouldn’t even notice.
The only saving grace that TSA has in my book is that they don’t require kids to take off their shoes. If we had to do that, we’d probably all travel barefoot.
Bucket after bucket, we pile the stuff onto the belt, all my hard work and organization going down the tubes. Then we start the marching-through process.
One at a time.
Right. Sure, you really think one child will go through at a time? It’s your rule, so you enforce it, I want to tell the agent. Don’t look at me for help.
But thankfully, she’s of the friendlier type of TSA people, and chats and jokes with the kids, and asks them if this is a school trip.
We make it through the scanners
And now the REAL fun begins.
Putting it all back together again. I suddenly have a whole new appreciation for Humpty Dumpty. I’m beginning to doubt if all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would be able to put this mess back together again.
It’s at this point in our trip that I typically stop looking at the time.
The kids scramble to find their sweaters and backpacks and work out who had which carry-on. It’s also at this point that I usually regret my “economical decision” and wish we didn’t have 7 carry-ons with us.
We work on redistributing all our bags and barely 20 minutes later we start the final trek to the gate. There once was a time when I’d get to the boarding gate and have the luxury of sitting down and relaxing. Maybe even have time to be bored.
Thankfully, not anymore. We arrive in time to skip the line and get onto the plane.
Those four little words – get onto the plane – hold a lot of weight.
Because here’s what it entails; 3 car seats to be tagged and gate checked, baby to be carried on, 7 carry-ons to be wheeled on, and two strollers to be folded and gate checked. My husband and I are a few hands short. I carry the diaper bag and computer bag over one shoulder and hold the baby in my arms and the toddler marches in front of, while the rest of the kids are halfway down the aisle, wheeling their carry-ons over everyone’s toes, while my husband deals with the carriages and carseats.
When my toddler suddenly realizes what “airplane” actually means, now that we are standing in the center of it, he loses his excitement for this long awaited trip and starts to scream. Being that he’s glued to his spot, I have no choice but to carry him. Shifting the baby to somewhere in one arm, I hoist him onto my bag-less other shoulder and make my way down the narrow aisle, which seems to become even more narrow with every step I take.
I debate if I should acknowledge the stares and gaping mouths of my fellow passengers as they count all the little people (or maybe the carry-ons?) that went on ahead of me. To calm their fears, I tell them not to worry, my husband is coming too, i would not do this alone.
By the time I make it to the back, there is a mountain of carry-ons clogging the whole area as all the kids make a beeline for the window seats, forgetting all the rules and regulations I had discussed with them. We did the “acdf” trick – reserving two rows of seats, minus the middles. Sometimes it works, and we get the middles too, and sometimes it doesn’t. This was one of the “doesn’t” times – the unfriendly stewardess let us know that it was a full flight. We had to do some adjustments of seats, the toddler was still clinging to me, there was certainly nowhere to put the baby down, I’m trying to kick these carry-ons out of the aisle and Unfriendly Stewardess is not helping me, even though this is Jetblue and they are supposed to be friendly.. My husband joins in time to help us sort it all out and our dear Unfriendly Stewardess does her best to be annoyed that it was taking us so long to get settled.
Thankfully they offered to gate check some carry-ons – I’m happy to oblige; it’s not really stuff I’ll need in flight … like everyone’s Shabbos shoes.
They are all seated. Everyone has a seatbelt on. Every last bag is stowed. Tray tables are up. And I breathe for the first time in a few hours.
Like I said, we all went to NY. And we all, every last shoe, sock and backpack, made it back. And there’s a reason we go on such a family trip only once a year.