Our little one has an ability to wake up in a joyful mood every morning. Unlike some she does not need 15 coffee shots to see the day’s beautiful potential. Yet she’s generous in her waking, not shoving her happiness in our face. She’ll lie in the cot playing with her thumbs and singing while she waits for her parents to wake.
The other day I accidently on purpose woke her early because we had a big day. I was to take Alika to Geneva airport and fly with her to England. My wife was at a conference in Brighton and we took it as an excuse to see the small cousins in Sussex.
Flying alone with a child is a big deal in my world because I’m self-conscious about babies crying, which I’m trying to not give a shit about, and flying with a child takes a bit of organisation panache, which I’m not to good at.
But I had a plan. It entailed stuffing copious amounts of food in my daughter so she’ll either sleep or be semi-conscious as her stomach saps all her energy, incapacitating all other functions, including crying. Hence waking her up early and giving her four bottles whether she wanted it or not before we left for the airport at 2pm.
I did ask a friend – a relaxed super cool mum who has been-there-done-that many times with three kids – for advice. “Just expect the worse and it is usually manageable.”
That did help because I have a vivid imagination. Thus, I was extra aware of the worst case scenarios, so I took extra nappies, double checked I had the right passport, made sure I did not leave the formula in the kitchen, and was acutely aware not to accidently leave Alika in the departure lounge.
With Alika stuffed to the hilt and formula seeping out of her ears we boldly set of into public.
It all could have gone terribly wrong. The bus to the station was packed and very hot, the airport train’s doors nearly crushed us as we jumped on, the flight was delayed by an hour, we sat on the tarmac for another 30 minutes in a cramped plane, and then did loop the loops above Gatwick for ages as if the pilot was scared to land.
Yet she was well behaved for the whole trip. She amused the waiting queues by singing to the amassed captive audience, brought joy to the row of people on the plane by smiling and meeting everyone’s eye, provoking a number of comments on her calmness and cuteness.
The only time she cried was at the airport bar when I went for a calming ale, not realising she must be a secret paid up member of the temperance movement. She was also slightly unsettled when I changed her in the airport’s female toilets. A number of women entered the cubicles while I was in there, but I am pretty sure that none of the women – probably out of embarrassment of bodily sounds – did anything behind the door while I was changing Alika. That will teach them to have baby-changing tables only in the female toilets.
Much to Alika’s and my delight, we caught up with Maria and my sister’s family in Sussex and had an archetypal weekend in an English country village, including a Morris Dancing festival, introducing Alika to ancient pubs, and watching England play football badly.
The only blight of the trip was the flight Maria and I took back to Geneva. Alika went nuts on the plane, and cried throughout with a high pitch wailing that had you been walking the streets of Paris, you would have heard her as the plane flew above.
My wife was clasping Alika close to her body concerned by our daughter’s obvious pain. Half way through the flight, I leaned across to her and, ever helpful, said with a smile “She wasn’t like this on the flight across.”
If she hadn’t had a crying child on her lap, I would have been thrown head first through the window.