I consider myself a boss when it comes to flying with an infant. I did it a ton, all by myself, and had it down pat. This post is about the first time I flew solo with my toddler. If you are sensitive, have anxiety or plan to fly with your toddler at any point in the near future, I beg you not to read this post. If you are any of those things (or a hot combo of all, like yours truly), and still choose to read this post, don't say I didn't warn you.
The Top 15 Terrible Things That Happened When I Flew With My Toddler (solo)
1. Upon entering security, my toddler fell suddenly and desperately in love with his umbrella stroller. As in, the moment he needed to get out of it to proceed through security, he absolutely could not part with his stroller. Heartbroken sobbing ensues.
2. The TSA agent requested that my heartbroken, recently separated from his favorite stroller, twenty month old walk through the metal detector on his own. Towards a stranger. Leaving his beloved
mother stroller behind.
3. After picking up my sobbing toddler and carrying him through the metal detector, we then waited for my hands to be swabbed for bomb making residue. Obviously, they tested positive because I have a side gig as a bomb maker (that is complete and total sarcasm).
4. Upon testing positive for explosives, the process gets a little aggressive. Not to be outdone, my toddler saw a situation escalating and the attention moving away from him and decided to throw what can only be described as The Meltdown of the Century. For his first move, he threw himself onto the floor and cried so hard that he left an actual puddle of tears on the floor.
5. After begging the TSA agent who was unpacking and unorganizing every single one of our bags to please do whatever he needed to do to return the stroller back to me, I strapped the baby in, only for him to test the limits of the windbreaker fabric of the umbrella stroller. I was so afraid he was going to flip himself backwards that I took him out. He proceeded to flail around on the floor of security and somehow loosened his diaper.
6. He then peed out of his diaper and soaked his pants and the floor of security.
7. After our bags are searched, they are left open until two female TSA agents are available to escort me, our bags and my still full on tantruming toddler into a small, windowless room for a full body search.
8. I was not allowed to remove anything from my bags until the search was complete, so I had to strap the urine soaked baby back into the now hated umbrella stroller. At this point, he is crying so hard he is choking, his screams are reverberating around the windowless room and I was not allowed to go to him and hold him.
9. As my breast and top knot were getting a pat down, I began to cry. Not because that was quite a bit of action for a toddler mom but because the baby was still crying, the body search was going to take 4 total minutes and, get this, our flight was due to take off in just 20 minutes at that point.
10. After the search, I asked the two female TSA agents to just leave us in the room and shut the door. I pulled the baby out of the urine soaked stroller and attempted to change his diaper while we were both standing up. Because we were in a room meant to find drugs and/or bombs, there were no trash cans so I put the soaked diaper and pants in my purse. The screaming only escalates and so does my crying.
11. Once his clothes and diaper were changed, I attempted to soothe him, still shut in the bomb room, knowing there were hundreds of people listening to us loose our shit. I spent so many agonizing minutes trying to calm him and pack my bags at the same time, knowing the clock was ticking and I was dangerously close to missing my flight.
12. I calmed him down somewhat (still crying, no screaming) and had no choice but to strap him back in his soaking wet stroller so that I could get us (and our crap) to the gate. I managed to wrangle him in, open the door to the bomb room and meet the eyes of countless TSA agents who were just staring at us. Staring. I wish I could say I held my head high and pranced out but instead my hands were too full to wipe the tears from my face, so we did our best to just get the hell out of there.
13. We made our way to an elevator, which in my opinion, was a victory in and of itself, but had to stop as soon as we got out so that I could hold the baby. He was beyond upset. Nothing would calm him - food, drinks, Peppa, bribery fruit snacks, nothing. I gave up. I just stood in the middle of the Charlotte airport holding him, with all of our stuff dumped out around us. People stepped over us, a cart of supplies had to wait behind us, and I'm fairly certain someone snapped an iPhone pic of us as they walked by.
14. After finding the magic yogurt raisins, taking off and then putting both shoes back on, and countless hugs and whispered pleas of "what do you need?!", I decided to try to make it to the gate, so I carried my 30lb toddler, drug my rolling suitcase and pushed the stroller as quickly as I could through the entire E concourse (50 something gates) and made it to the gate just in time to see the plane pull away from the jet bridge.
15. We missed the flight.
Truth: I am contemplating renting a car to drive home. The thought of another flight literally leaves me in an anxiety fueled spiral of fear.