It’s very rare when I actually wake up the baby. Maddie either wakes me up or I cater to her whenever she wakes up. So it was a new experience when I had to get her up this morning to go to a doctor’s appointment in the city.
Many people use the word precious very freely. Not me. It’s a word that I have rarely had any occasion to use unless I was doing a Lord of the Rings imitation of Smeagol. But Maddie’s reaction to being woken up this morning was the spot on definition of the word precious.
I softly called her name. Maddie wiggled and just barely opened her eyes to determine who was waking her up. She saw it was her father and gave me the warmest and most loving smile I have ever seen. Then she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.
I gently prompted her again, “Madddieee.”
She greeted me with that same smile before quickly falling back asleep.
Its little moments like this that makes this the best job anyone could hope for.
However, by the time we got out the door, we were in a serious time crunch. I bundled Maddie up in the stroller against the nasty wind blowing off of the Hudson River and took off.
We had 14 minutes to scamper one mile, buy a ferry ticket and board the ferry. And they’re off… Maddie and I were half speed walking and half jogging as we made our way through the streets of Jersey City.
I could see the ferry crossing the river as we steamed towards the ticket terminal. We burst through the doors with our adrenaline pumping! There was only one person in line – Niiccee!!
Maddie wheeled up behind the woman in line who was counting out $13.75 in quarters??? And the clerk was going through each one, “Nope, this quarter is Canadian – oops, so is this one.” Meanwhile, our ferry is docking right out front and the clock is ticking. “Oh, this one is American, right?”
“Hmmm, let’s see, I only need one more dollar,” said the befuddled woman. Before she could make a move I slapped down a buck and calmly said “Sold – Please print her ticket and give me one to Wall Street!” Maddie eyed me curiously as people started to board our boat.
The clerk laid down the woman’s ticket and ours came next. I snatched the ticket just as the ferryman was chaining up the entrance – “One more coming!” I announced. He lifted the chain as Maddie and I darted onto the platform. The boat lurched backwards and Maddie gave me that coy smile that said, “You can not be serious!”
Maddie’s look seemed to say it all, “You guys are pushing your luck!” After a flight to Chicago and three plus hours in the car, my 8-month-old super star was winding down before our eyes. Today’s flight wasn’t as adventurous as her faux-emergency landing at Newark last week, but it did have it moments.
We hit the airport early armed with snacks, stealth and experience. Our plan was to feed Maddie before boarding the plane. Do to unforeseen circumstances, that didn’t quite happen. But Maddie kept her spirits high and was patient enough to let us feed her on the plane.
Once again, we were all underwhelmed by the grandeur of Newark Liberty Airport. We taxied so long that Maddie finished a full bottle, some English muffin pieces and almost an entire apple worth of slices. We actually thought that the pilot had diverted to the highway and was going to taxi us all the way to Chicago. Anyway, by the time Chucky Lindbergh got the bus in the air, Maddie was celebrating her Sweet 16.
At the tail end of our flight, Maddie started to unravel a little bit. But before she could get out of hand, a woman across the aisle started telling her what a good girl she was. Maddie has never been one to shy away from attention. She made fast friends with the woman who chatted with her until we actually landed. Good stuff!
Maddie endured another 3 hours in the car like a champ as we pulled up to the thriving metropolis of Peoria, Illinois. Both of my lungs collapsed before I could actually blowup Maddie’s little inflatable tub. As we got Maddie into the tub, it was obvious that her sense of humor had left the building. We needed some baby supplies so I slipped out to the store and left bedtime operations to her mom.
As the door closed behind me, I could hear Maddie lighting up her mom with high-pitched screams and fussing. But I figured that after the day she had, the baby was more than entitled to vocalize a few well-placed complaints. Tomorrow we will have a full report from the baby’s first fish fry!
Maddie’s return flight home on United Airlines took more than a few unexpected turns this evening including an interesting welcome home at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. Maddie is my 8-month-old daughter and she was feeling more than a bit antsy during Friday evening’s flight home from Charlotte.
Midway through the flight, we gave her a bottle that finally seemed to the take the edge off and put her to sleep. Maddie slept for about 20 minutes when the pilot came over the intercom informing us that we were making our descent into Newark.
We were in the process of the normal approach when the pilot suddenly halted his descent and began climbing. He came back over the speaker and said, “Uhh, folks, we’re going to have to check some things out up here.” Maddie doesn’t speak yet, but this announcement seemed to command her full attention.
Much to the baby’s dismay, we spent the next twenty minutes flying in circles around the Newark area. We kept switching Maddie back and forth between parents, but we could not get her to relax.
Suddenly, the phone rang and was picked up the young male flight attendant right next to us. We were in the first row and thought I could hear the word emergency in the conversation the pilot was having with the flight attendant. Surely I must have been hearing things, but there we were, not circling the airport but flying around New Jersey.
The baby was getting increasingly restless when the pilot announces that we will be on the ground in three minutes. As soon as we touch down, we can see more than 15 fire trucks and multiple rescue vehicles lining the right side of the runway. As we begin to slow down, these teams of first responders and firefighters are peeling off and escorting us down the runway.
These emergency vehicles are packing in behind us as the announcements are coming on like nothing out of the ordinary is going on. So here we are with a train of emergency vehicles shadowing our every move as our jet is directed away from all the other aircraft that are parked on the tarmac.
Now the emergency vehicles are pulling up on either side of the jet as we await our fate. The flight attendant pops the door and a Port Authority Official rushes into the cockpit to talk with the pilot.
You can hear the pilot say, it was on the screen and then it just went blank. The officer turned back to the flight attendant and told him to let the passengers go. No one wasted any time getting off of that flight. As soon as we got Maddie off of the plane, she was suddenly as cool as a cucumber. I wonder if she knew something that United Airlines had obviously forgot to tell the rest of us.
Maddie fought the good fight this weekend. She traveled hundreds of miles using multiple forms of transportation and kept her sense of humor as much as any 8-month-old little girl could.
Our journey began at the pit known as Newark Airport. It’s rated worst in the nation for a reason folks. And the mega-mind merger between United and Continental only make things worse. Knowing the forces of evil to be dealt with, we left plenty of time to undo whatever screw-ups we might encounter. It didn’t take long to run head-long into our first impediment.
My wife printed boarding passes before leaving the house that clearly read that we were leaving from gate A-27. For those of you who know Newark Airport, this means that you are leaving from Terminal “A” Pretty simple right?
So we checked in at the “A” terminal, checked our bags and collected our boarding passes. Then I heard Maddie gasp. Upon a closer inspection of our tickets, the United idiots had changed the flight to leave from terminal “C”
Maddie glared at her parents as if to say, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!” It was sooo nice of the bubblehead that checked us in not to mention that we had to high-tail it down to the “C” terminal if we wanted to make our flight. So Maddie suggested we take the monorail and make it snappy!
We get to the lovely terminal “C” only to find that TSA has four entry points but only two security lines open for a mob of travelers. And let me tell you, they were in NO HURRY whatsoever. I propped little Maddie into one arm and started placing my junk into the bins. Sure enough, I snagged the smartest TSA agent in the airport.
I placed my Kindle Fire on top of my laptop in the bin when I heard the agent say, “HOLD UP!” (Here we go) Maddie is looking more than a little concerned at the man who has just snapped at me.
“Sir, what is that?”
“UM, a Kindle.”
His face contorted as if were speaking in tongues – “A WHAT?”
“A device that people use to read books and magazines,” I explained.
“Sir, that needs to go in a separate bin.”
Of course now the line is backing up even more as I grip Maddie a little tighter so I can go fetch another bin. I grab the new bin as Maddie grabs my bottom row of teeth. I put the Kindle in a bin of it’s own. Now the baby and I are ready to come through the scanner, but the scanning agent is having a mindless conversation about what time she came to work that morning. Luckily Maddie started grabbing my nose that somehow broke this woman out of her drug-induced coma.
We made it to our gate with only moments to spare, but Maddie was a perfect angel through out the entire process. She was also a delightful flying companion and made it through her first flight like a real pro.
With Maddie’s first flight less than 48 hours away, there are a myriad of scenarios we must be prepared for. Last time I flew, it was just a couple of months before Maddie was born.
Back then, the rocket scientists from the glorious TSA tried to put my pregnant wife through one of their full body scans. “Don’t worry, it’s safe!” grumbled the TSA mega-mind with the impressive grade school education. Thanks doc, but we will opt in for the humiliating cavity search rather than process the baby in your giant microwave oven.
I can only imagine what these hard-core guardians of the gate are going try with the baby. I imagine if they don’t try to send her through the luggage scanners along with our shoes and deadly belt buckles, we will be ahead of the game.
Maddie’s first flight will be a short one, but trying to anticipate her needs and reactions may be a challenge. At 8-months-old, she already has some strong opinions on how she should be dealt with according to her celebrity status.
So how do we handle things in the jet if Maddie goes dark side and terrorizes the pilot or one of the passengers? What if she takes a bite out the landing gear? What is proper protocol for a screaming baby on a flight?
We are all American citizens, but can one of Maddie’s outbursts lead to a mandatory deportation scenario?
There are so many questions that just won’t be answered until we land at our destination. The obvious course of action is to be cool and just let things evolve naturally. But there’s only so much we can do if the baby flips the script on us.
It’s also entirely possible that Maddie’s behavior will be perfect in public. She may very well save all that angst for when we get to the hotel. We know that either way we will have to pay the piper – the only question is will it happen in a public or private setting?
The morning started off with such promise. Maddie was smiling ear to ear after her late morning nap. But two days of rigorous travel finally caught up with my little girl.
The fussy bug started gradually, but quickly picked up speed during the early afternoon. Maddie was in the shadowlands arena, she could be entertained in short spurts, but then rolled right back into complaint mode.
This is a very rare occurrence for a girl that nabbed a two-hour nap earlier in the day, but so be it. After her afternoon feeding, we decided to make a coffee run. But even in the car, Maddie’s discontent was on the rise.
As soon as we pulled up to the coffee shop, I got Maddie into her stroller and decided to walk her around the shopping center instead. For the first time all afternoon, Maddie’s mood was beginning to look up. As I wheeled her around the complex, the fresh air was giving her a much-needed boost.
However, once we actually ducked into a nearby grocery store – she started groaning and sighing in fits and starts. The fussy girl was back, but this time she had a trick waiting up her sleeve for dear old dad. As soon as we went to check out, the cashier asked if I had a frequent shopper card. As soon as I reached over to hand it to him, a tiny sock began its lazy ascent right in front of my face. It continued to soar upward before reaching its apogee and tumbling back to earth. You could follow the heads of the people in the store watching the sock like a thunderous home run that was just crushed out of the park.
This was superb entertainment for the cashier, the other shoppers in line and myself. Maddie must have worked her sock to the very tip of her toes before kicking it off and launching it high in the sky for all to enjoy.
My fellow shopper handed the offending sock to me with a huge grin on his face. As I knelt down to put the sock back on Cinderella, she was beaming with sheer delight, obviously very pleased with her efforts. No one said a word, but everyone realized that they were in the presence of greatness.
Maddie’s parents have discovered that when it comes to traveling with the baby, leaving in a timely manner is far easier said than done. The best-laid plans can go south in a big hurry. This fact was proven once again this morning when Maddie woke up to a muddy diaper that left her father weak in the knees.
Maddie’s mom was getting ready in the other room when she heard the following words tumble out of her husband’s mouth. “Honey, please start a bath for the baby right now!”
My wife thought I might be exaggerating until she rushed into the baby’s room and then made a screeching u-turn and rushed right back out. The impromptu bath time is always a formidable opponent in executing a timely exit. When all was said and done, it took us almost two hours to finally get on the road. The baby seemed happy for the moment and that’s all that you can really ask for during a long road trip.
We made it to Maddie’s grandparents house and apparently the fireworks were just getting underway. After some great playtime with the grandparents, Maddie was slipping into that dark and fussy place.
We still have yet to pinpoint the cause of her consternation.
Maddie endured a restless night, so it could be that she’s just tired and cranky. It’s also possible that she might be reacting to her new and foreign surroundings. Maddie’s self-awareness has surged in the last month, so as far as she is concerned, this might be her first perceived trip away from home.
Whatever the problem was, she went off the deep end early and often this evening. Her bedtime was checkered by several unhappy wake up sessions. Keeping this in mind, we can only hope that it’s not too late for her to get a good night’s sleep. At the very least, this will give us a small edge when the baby wakes up tomorrow morning. However, when you hit the road with Maddie, you always run the risk of awakening her inner Honey Badger. Let’s be careful out there!