I’ll Never Be Strip Searched


shutterstock_57023Two of my children were born in Norway. For those geographically challenged, that’s a little country just south of the North Pole, with 11 months of the darkest days you’ll ever see…followed by 30 of the brightest nights.

With temperatures dipping into double-digit minuses, and two colicky kids in snowsuits with noses running like broken hydrants, I knew it wouldn’t take long before I embraced depression like a red carpet craving Kardashian.

It only took one winter for me to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder…who’da thought?

To escape the arctic chill, I took a number of trips back to the States with my kids. This is the story of one such flight that shall forever be etched in my memory…and those of the other traumatized passengers.

I know there may be some who feel that children should be banned from commercial airlines altogether…or if they MUST travel, find a nanny who will care for them in the cargo hold. If this sounds like you, read no further…this might piss you off, and God knows there’s enough out there already loading your shorts.

The year was 1985, and back then a plane ride from Oslo to Seattle took about 11 hours.

The first hour or so of the flight the kids seemed to enjoy themselves immensely with the goody bag I’d packed. It was uncanny how quickly they scribbled on every page of the coloring book while wolfing down the entire supply of gummy bears and raisins. At the rate we were going through juice bottles and Pampers, I calculated both would run out somewhere over the Atlantic. This left me no choice but to strap air sickness bags over their rashy behinds, and use sections of the Duty-free magazine as wipes.

Initially passengers were quite impressed with the way I kept them occupied, but by hour two, a whole new beast broke free. It was naptime, my kids were cranky, and to make matters worse, I’d run out of tricky diversions with which to tame them.

Is it just me?… Why park mothers with kids in middle row seats knowing they’re going to be up and down more often than a Vegas call girl at a Secret Service convention? And why are we ALWAYS sitting next to businessmen who seem angry that women reproduce?

At 30,000 feet a rookie stewardess passed a deck of cards down the aisle to my 2-year old. WTF???? Her world premier shuffle exploded into a game of 52 card pick-up, spraying the cabin of dozing wannabe venture capitalists with laminated shrapnel.

Then…the three words a parent fears most.

“Mommy, I’m sick.”

Before the phrase left her lips she opened her mouth and projectile vomited onto my face and hair. Large chunks of mascara-mingled foreign matter snow-balled down my nose and onto my traveling clothes.

Needless to say, the next 9 hours stunk. I knew then what it felt like to be in solitary confinement.

The plane touched down and there was a mass exodus rivaling a Black Friday stampede. We gathered what was left of our belongings leaving the battlefield behind, and marched toward baggage claim.

When we arrived at immigration the lines of humanity seemed to part. The officer took one look at my hurl hair, and holding a hanky to his nose waved us through. At that moment I realized the lone perk of travelling with an airsick kid….I’ll never be strip-searched.

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  1. Oh my god Annie! I laughed out loud!! I’ve had many flights with my daughter, the worse incident was when she had a horrible ear ache because of the change in pressure and just screamed for the entire last half hour of the flight. We were travelling into Myrtle beach and the plane was full of men with golf clubs who, like you, could not understand why women reproduce. Glad you survived the flight!!! Lisa

    • I feel your pain, Lisa. I really do. I’ve had a couple of those flights with kids with bad ear aches and they’re no fun. Everyone suffers brutally. But it looks like we both survived. Thanks for the comment!

      • I had that pain once for an entire long descent, still hurt on the ground and it wasn’t until I got to my home elevation over 100 miles from the airport that the frightful pressure let up. I hate fussy kids on planes, but feel for the little ones that you can tell are shrieking from pain.

        • Lee,
          I’ve had that same pain in my ears, but at least I can understand the reason for it, whereas kids are clueless. I am not so fond of bratty kids anywhere, but particularly on flights. The kind who kick the back of your chair or let their tray table fall OVER and OVER again. I have quite a bit of patience, but damn, don’t push me! Thanks, Lee.

  2. Eww. Funny and eww.

    My daughters are 15 and 16 1/2. I think I’m almost ready to fly with them. Well, with one of them anyway. So long as it’s the right time of the month.

    Nevermind, I’ll drive them to the airport.

    • HA HA Lynne. It sounds like you want to take it uber slow, but it might be time to give it a whirl. Maybe they’ll surprise you. Think of the upside…At least they’re out of diapers. Seriously, I don’t know what the answer is. It’s a crap shoot (so to speak)

  3. This is so REAL and absolutely hilarious. I remember being this woman – but I never flew with my kids alone. I admire the hell out of you. And next time, just make sure your child projectile vomits on the businessman. At least you’ll get a little satisfaction out of the deal.

    • Donna, you might be right…just point her little pie hole toward a businessman. Maybe his newspaper will shield him. If not, his dark suit won’t show debris stains as easily. :) (Just kidding all you nice corporate guys out there.) Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment.

  4. Hahaha… I have no kids, fly a lot, and still found this post very funny. Maybe because the cranky child projectile vomited on the parent? 😉

  5. Cara, maybe that old saying is true. “With insanity, as with vomit, it is the passerby who receives the inconvenience.” Regardless, someone was going to get hit and I was just glad to take it for the team! Thanks for your visit!

  6. I love your smiling face, Melanie. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Fantastic Annie,
    I hate flying, so God knows how I would have gone with all that!
    (Maybe I might try a little puke on my shirt front to help with customs though.)

    A Norwegian connection? Ah, that explains it.

    Was there late last year. Passed through the Leknes Country & Western festival. Mmm…all those drunk Norwegian cowgirls in reindeer chaps.

    Yes, I’m starting to see where you’re coming from.
    Cheers, ic

  8. Ian,
    I may have spent time in Norway, but I’m fairly confident that you’ll never see me sporting reindeer chaps. But, I have been known to imbibe in their local Viking brew called aquavit. That stuff could launch a rocket and keep it orbiting for years. Just a quick snort from an iced bottle and I might even convince myself that I can line dance. You crack me up, Ian.

  9. I laughed. I’m sorry.
    I just have this mental image of you sitting there, dripping, a tight smile on your befouled face.
    Maybe airlines ought to have a Code Blue Trolley for young families – emergency nappies, calpol, teddies and suchlike – it might make things less…stinky.

    (Memo to self: Be happy I’m childless. Way too much hard work and I don’ t enjoy nervous breakdowns.)

    • Big D, I like the idea of a Code Blue Trolley. I think along with those nappies and teddies they should offer straight jackets for the parents. Sometimes this raising kids thing bites me in the backside and I’m left rocking in the corner, picking my eyebrows out. Now that my bunch are grown and damn near launched, I’m writing about it. Thanks for reading…and laughing. I’m finding parts of it funny too…but just parts.

  10. You are a fantastic writer. Wonderfully portrayed and sooo funny! I enjoyed that you’re living in Norway. My husband is full-blooded Norwegian as are his parents and grandparents who moved to Minnesota, USA.

    Thanks for a tremendous ride!

  11. Carol,
    I figured you must have some Norwegian in you. I’m sure you’ve heard all the Lena and Ole jokes too. My dad can rattle them off one right after the next. Thanks for visiting and for the very kind comment. It is much appreciated!

  12. Oh my God, Annie, this is terrible and yet SO BLOGWORTHY. You didn’t know it then, but you can thank your kids now for this Internet gold. And I thought my monsters were bad enough on a 4 hour flight. Good Lord!

  13. Laura,
    Yes, they were giving me comic gold. Just pop a kid out or two and grab a pen! Thanks for coming over and giving it a read. Always love seeing you!

  14. Annie, sounds agonizing traveling 11 hours on a flight with little kids. But, oh what a funny story it makes now, in retrospect. Hilarious, actually.

  15. As the nanny, I didn’t have the luxury of staying in the hold, as we drove across Germany. I got to be in the backseat with carsickness, prompted when we ran out of baby formula by the mother crushing nilla wafers into milk to make pretend it was formula. I learned the word for vomit (puke)- Kotze – and how the word still evokes the smell that lived with us all for eight more hours on the way to Freiburg. Thanks for the memories – glad you had some, too.

  16. Oh Elisabeth…that sounds absolutely gruesome. I love Nilla wafers as much as the next guy, but I’ve never thought they would be a good substitute for formula. Sometimes I wonder about parents…including myself. All I can hope is that none of us ever find ourselves in that situation again…and that we live in a world a free of Kotze. (I’m thinking that word is going to come in handy!) So nice to see you here, Elisabeth. Thanks for commenting!

  17. Oh my gosh, this is one of my biggest fears. We fly a lot so we’ve been lucky and the odds are against us now. As a one-year-old we brought our daughter back to the U.S. to visit her grandparents, her first trip back since she was born. She survived 30 hours of travel (India to Rhode Island) like a champ, then threw up in the back of my mom’s car.

  18. Thirty hours of flying with a one year old? Good Lord, there should be an award for that kind of abuse! You’ve become my new hero. Don’t be surprised if I start sending Christmas cards and refer to you as Wonder Woman in my posts. Thank you Stephanie, for making my eleven hours look like a walk in the park. :)

    • Thanks, although I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like I barely survive. We’ve lucked out with a good traveler, maybe because we’ve had to do it so many times with her now and she’s only 2 1/2, so she’s used to it. It’s exhausting though.

  19. Wow. I am super-impressed. I am sure my older sister (then 16 y.o.) will never forget our plane ride to Alaska (I was 8), and me kutzing (a word our family used for puking, pretty sure it’s related to kotze) within an hour or so of being in the air.

    While I did not actually puke ON her, the stewardesses disappeared and she was left holding a soggy barf bag for about five hours, not allowed to leave her seat and no one came to get it from her.

    We’ve never flown together since, I now realize…

    • Now that is funny! Sorry, but it truly is. I can just imagine your 16-year old sis having to hold her baby sister’s barf bag. Life can be cruel! It’s not hard to believe that you two haven’t hit the friendly skies together anytime soon.

      I remember when my kids had to fly back to Norway there were times when seating assignments separated them. When that happened, the oldest would plop down in her assigned chair and the youngest would stand next to her, staring at her ticket…and then at the person sitting in the seat she wanted, as if to say “Why doesn’t that seat belong to me?” If nothing happened, the youngest became more forceful. “Excuse me, but would you please trade places with me so I can sit by my sister?” If they scoffed, she would say, “But she always hold the bag when I throw up.” It worked every time. People would scramble to whatever seat she held. Not a proud moment…but they were just kids.

  20. I think I’m the only one who has ever puked while travelling with my kids. How did you not puke yourself? In fact, how did a whole chain reaction of plane-wide puking not start? Wow, this is so well written, I’ve lost my appetite. Thanks 😉

    • Astra,
      It took everything I had not to blow chunks, but I was already living with so many hate stares from the entire economy section that I had to hold on for dear life. Thanks for your comment!

  21. I have no idea how you managed to make traveling for 11 hours with a sick child funny, but you did!

    I was airsick once – and it was awful.

    Luckily, the two times my son has flown with me, he was fine. Thanks to benadryl.

  22. Nothing funny about airsickness…but you have to find a laugh when you can. Glad you’ve missed the excitement with your son. Thank, Meleah!

  23. Oh, Annie, how horrible! I can’t even imagine. Or maybe I just can’t bring myself to. Regardless, thank God you have the sense of humor you do to get you through it!

  24. June,

    I had to search long and hard for that glimmer of humor, but years later it has appeared. Thanks for your comment!

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