During my recent 1-day jaunt from Rhode Island to Chicago and back by way of Baltimore (a trip highlighted by an act of unexpected kindness), I spent large part of the day in and around airports or on the airplanes that service said airports. For the first time, I spent time watching, really watching, the families traveling with children.
Historically, my observations of families with children in airports are usually accompanied by an internal dialogue that goes something like this: "Boy that kid is loud...How can they manage to get all that stuff in those bags?...ummm, yeah I think you're going to need to check that stroller...oh boy that baby is crying again...ah scored a moderately comfy seat by the window...oh no, I just made eye contact with the mother! Will my noise-cancelling headphones cancel out a crying baby?...oh boy here they come...ok polite smile...please don't please don't please don't...yes, they're heading farther back!" Of course, the Universe usually pays me back for such uncharitable thoughts by having a gentleman who looks like he ate all of the Marx Brothers sit in the center seat next to me, jab me in the side with his elbow, and fall asleep facing me and bathing me in a halitosis funk.
On Wednesday, however, I watched with a whole new eye. Someday soon that's going to be me. Other people are going to look askance at me and dread seeing me walk down the aisle of that plane. And so I watched these families in curiosity and with an eye toward shamelessly borrowing any pattern of behavior or coping methods that seemed to keep the children quiet or happy. What works? What doesn't? And will people forgive Jenn and me if we can't keep the baby quiet?
It's something of an urgent concern.
Odds are, we'll be adopting our Plus One from a birth mother living somewhere else in the United States. Eventually we'll have to go home. Do we drive? Do we fly? If we do, we're going to be those "getting on an airplane with an infant" parents that I'd always secretly dreaded. Not only that but we'll be getting on that plane with virtually no practice at the whole parenting thing. Usually, families head home with newborns in their cars and the relatives fly in to visit. Nope, not us.
Looking at resources on line, there seems to be a general trend towards "wait until the baby is at least two weeks old" but other sources say 3 months, some say it's OK any time just be prepared for the baby to get sick from all the people and germs in the airport. Conveniently, the TSA allows you to bring baby formula through checkpoints with you now so that answers the questions I had about whether or not we were going to have to find some way to make it once we got through the checkpoint.
We've got a lot to learn about this whole parenting thing. So many questions and every normal, familiar experience is now colored by the realization that the next time I do this, whatever this is, it will be in the company of a little tiny person who will be fully dependent on me and my wife. Nothing will ever be the same and I can't wait.