I really did see this one coming.
I just didn’t expect the TSA to be involved.
That whole “we will not negotiate with terrorist” thing isn’t true.
The TSA totally negotiated with my 3-year old and make no mistake, she’s a terrorist.
With sleepy eyes and stuffed puppy in her hand, I buckled my darling daughter into her car seat at 5am, hoping the time of day didn’t spell doom for our trip back to Los Angeles from Detroit. We had kissed our family good bye (yes, Nana cried…she always does) and woke before dawn for a 7am plane ride.
I was entirely prepared. I did everything the night before- I even packed the snacks and goodies and toys. There was a spot in the bag for the night’s pj’s and clothes were laid out. I missed nothing and I went to bed feeling organized and accomplished and entirely sure of myself.
My first clue that our trip home was going to go all wrong came when my daughter winced at walking through the airport. She wanted to be carried. But as Mom is trying to get all the luggage to the counter and carry ons and hold hands…the “carry me” thing just wasn’t going to work. Both kids were already whining once we got up to the counter and they had to wait again in the security line.
As we entered the line a very nice TSA agent looked over our boarding passes and asked my son his age.
“And what about you little girl?”
…and the little girl buried her face in my leg, refusing to even look at the man talking to her who smiled and handed me back our tickets.
We made our way several feet to the xray line, and I got the kids de-shoed and un-backpacked and got my laptop ready and felt, again, rather organized and accomplished.
Despite the fact that we have done this dozens of times, my youngest decided things needed to change. The procedure was incomplete and something was amiss.
I noticed that look on her face as I set down a bag on the conveyor belt. You know the kind of look where you can see their lip turn under, but you’re not exactly sure if they will be crying, laughing. or asking to go potty.
“What’s wrong baby?”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Honey we have to go, it’s our turn, come on…”
“No! I don’t want to go. I want to DO IT AGAIN!”
“Do what again honey? We need to move, come on…people are waiting.”
and with that the floodgates opened and every parent’s worst attitude nightmare began.
People moved around us, some with looks of sympathy, others with looks of confusion, and still others with that “please dear god tell me that family is NOT on my plane” look.
There was crying. There was screaming. There was the classic on the floor kicking and arm throwing thing. At one point she even folded her arms and “hmmmph’d” me mid bellow.
I tried the stern Mom thing first.
Then I got threatening.
Then came sweet and nice reasoning.
Then came bribing.
The screaming and crying and flailing continued.
Of course I tried to just manhandle her and carry her through. But she was doing that wiggle thing kids do with the back arch- and pulling out her patented go-to move…yelling for Daddy.
So imagine, if you will, what you might think if you saw a woman trying to carry an unwilling preschooler through airport security while she SCREAMED at the very top of her lungs “I WANT MY DADDY WHERE IS MY DADDY GET ME MY DADDY!”
That’s about when TSA pulled us aside. Me trying to wrangle the screaming and kicking girl while her brother held both hands over his ears yelling “MOM MAKE HER STOP!”
Of course it’s hard for a TSA agent to question me over custody while a 3-year old screams. A GIRL 3-year old. Because, trust me, it’s a tone and pitch you just don’t get with the boys. I was quickly allowed to attempt, again, to get through the xray.
This time I just carried her. On the other side another very nice TSA agent tried to help me gather our belogings. I’m sure he’s still regretting that move, because just as he got a bag on my shoulder Little Miss Yells-A-Lot swung around and kicked him in the thigh.
Yes, my daughter kicked a TSA agent.
I apologized profusely and then gave my girl a look that finally seemed to scare her to death and she became slightly reasonable. She still huffed and puffed and demanded she put her shoes on herself and then walked slow as a snail, head down and pouting to our gate…where the doors were closed and the plane to Los Angeles was pulling away.
You would think it ends here. But no.
Upon learning we missed our plane my 5-year old broke down in tears. So I had two kids pouting and crying or crying and pouting while I tried to decide if flying standby all day was worth it, or if I should just head back to my aunt’s house.
I went with option b. And after a shuttle bus ride to get a car and car seats and traffic for 2 hours (and a dead bird, which we hit on our way) I collapsed on a couch and decided I was never flying with my children anywhere ever again for the rest of their lives.