It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the night’s sleep preceding a flight will be an unsatisfactory one. It is also, I have learnt, a truth universally acknowledged that the same rules applies for children. Like dogs, they sniff the air and sense something is afoot (as opposed to listening to Mum and Dad when they carefully explain the journey ahead) and that it is worth waking up for, multiple times in the night, to ensure they are completely shattered at 9am the following morning. And, so it was, that when we shoved the boot of the car full of luggage, strapped the kids in, and set off for the airport, we were two coffees deep and fresh as trampled daisies.
The A7 was completely shut down courtesy of a nasty truck accident, which meant we re-routed through Neumünster and the drive to the airport took 90 minutes. Within those 90 minutes the baby learnt how to take a dummy, and I felt like a Rabenmutter as he stared at me accusingly from his chair, suckling furiously, the message clear; take me out. At the check-in desk, the queue was long, Emirates was out of oversized luggage bags, the baby needed feeding, and die Lüdde’s speedy toddler legs needed stretching. But we got through it, and security, and could have done with a stiff drink or three pre-boarding. Instead we took turns monitoring die Lüdde’s shameless asking for snacks from other parents, and keeping an eye on our small mountain of carry-on bags. Flying with kids has shed a rosy glow on the travel of my 20s, in which I could arrive by the skin of my teeth, blast through security, browse through the book shops, all of them, and buy a huge crime novel, en route to my gate, drink wine with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and my snack box, and watch at least 3 and a half movies. Those days are gone.
You may recall, after our last flight to Singapore, five months ago, with a 17 month old toddler, I offered what I feel was a sage parenting gem for those flying with small children; lower your expectations, and then lower them again. We went in with expectations dragging behind us on the floor. Therefore, we exited with fizzy triumph coursing through our veins. Der Lüdde slept and ate the whole time (sage parenting tip number two: babies are so much easier to fly with than mobile children) and Die Lüdde played, ate, watched, strolled and generally kept her shit together. After a comical searh for a courtesy stroller that extended across what felt like a vast part of Dubai’s gargantuan airport, we found one and she promptly fell asleep in it, a blessing given it was past midnight by her body clock and we were careering towards the most feared toddler territory of them all; overtiredness. She slept for most of the Dubai-Singapore leg, sprawled on whichever one of us wasn’t soothing/feeding the baby or eating.
Tja, so here we are. It is gloriously hot (and yet, the baby insists on being carried in his Manduca, as opposed to lying in a lovely aerated pram) and we took an unplanned, half hour walk yesterday that resulted in so much sweat I am feeling positively svelte this morning. We’re four days into the Week of Horror we give ourselves when making this journey. The Week of Horror allows for jetlag, massive meltdowns, ghastly sleep schedules, and even the possibility one or all of us will get sick. So far, so good. Mum’s supply of eucalyptus oil, so drained on our last trip here, has not been tapped into. Our body clocks are slowly adjusting, not only to being six hours ahead, but also to not being bathed in light from 4am until 10.30pm, as we are during the north German summer. SG said yesterday, with mild surprise, ‘6.30pm and the sun is already sinking.’ I said something pithy about how that is normal in our hemisphere, not that Singapore is technically in our hemisphere, but it’s as good as. Anyway, by the time we get to Vietnam for the wedding, we’ll be right as rain. As I type, the rarest of things is occurring; the toddler and the baby are napping. She isn’t making nonsensical demands while covered in apricot jam, he isn’t rooting around for milk for the 48th time since he woke up, and all is blessedly quiet.
I don’t quite know what to do with myself.