We made it! Yesterday was an incredibly long day, but we all made it, safe and sound.
Much to my surprise, there wasn’t a single meltdown in the entire 20-hour trip! We left the house around 8, took the bus to the airport, took a nine-hour flight to Atlanta, then another two-hour one to Cedar Rapids, and had a 45-minute drive home. Although I did my best to get Katherine in “nap” mode as soon as we got on the first plane (the blanket, the doll, the songs, a pillow, closing my eyes beside her and remaining quiet), she didn’t close her eyes once on our flights. The ticket agents were really nice to me, giving me bulkhead seating (a wall in front of me) and an empty seat next to me, and the flight attendants found me a cot for Nathaniel. I was a bit tense throughout, but both kids were really good. Katherine played her way through the day, and Nathaniel gave me regular Katherine playing sessions while he napped. Both kids charmed those around us, and I got lots of compliments on my family as we left the plane. Funnily enough, my parenting is pretty much the same from one flight to the next; it’s all a matter of how the kids are that day! There were many kind offers of help, but I have to say that I felt much as guide dogs must: petting and compliments are lovely, but I’m here to do a job, and I really need to focus. But I appreciated the moral support!
We had a bit of a race to our second flight, since I had to collect our bags, re-check them, re-do security, and do border inspection and customs before the hop flight, but both kids held on for me. Katherine made herself the center of attention with a loud, long wail when I tried to hurry her to board (and I guessed many of the other passengers standing around thought, “Oh nooooooo!”), but she dried her tears, tired as she was, as soon as she understood that I was only helping her onto another airplane (she likes them a lot). Nathaniel was a bit spooked by that point in the day, since all of his naps had been rudely interrupted by one noise or another, so he needed some real work on the final leg, but I just threw some small buttons and things at Katherine while I worked with him and she arranged and rearranged them on her table throughout the flight.
What surprises me is how wiped I feel even with such help from the kids. It was almost four in the morning, London time, when we arrived at my parents’ place, and both kids were pretty keen on sleeping with me. As in, I had a child glued to each side of me for the night. Nathaniel woke repeatedly, alarming his sister, and I gave up on more sleep around 4am Iowa time. He and I went to the basement to play while the rest of the house slept. He then took a nice nap while I got Katherine (who was awake by 6) and greeted the grandparents, who were a bit surprised (though very nice about it!) by having such invasive early risers as house guests.
We’ve had a lovely day at home, with Katherine taking command of the house, enjoying new toys and corners, and taking full advantage of having three adults at her disposal. Nathaniel is getting lots of “Look at this round little foot/arm/leg/face/head!” Since it was in the high eighties today I hid from the heat and will start adjusting to real summer tomorrow. I’m looking forward to having more company on my morning walks. We had a great dinner out on the deck, with little ones being passed from lap to lap and a nice breeze whisking away the heat and humidity. But, since both kids went down early this evening, it’s about time I check out and get some sleep!