Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trapped in Row 16

Before I share out of the fullness of my recent days away, I have to tell about our flight home. This trip was a patchwork of discounts, gifts, and deals, so our return flight had the 4 of us scattered in "center seats" around the plane. Jeff diplomatically worked out a way for the kids to be seated together, with him in front of them, but I was in row 16 far in front of the rest of my family. A young mother wanting to be left alone and a quiet middle aged man were my seatmates, with me in the middle. After a last, late night of vacation the evening before and getting to the airport at 6 am, I was "breastfeeding level tired." That doesn't happen often anymore.

Seated in row 17 in back of me, though, was a parent with two young children; I'll call them "Riley and Corbin" (to protect the NOT SO innocent). Early into the nearly 4 hr flight, my seat began to absorb kicking sensations, punctuated by "dropping of the tray" sensations. Shrieks from behind were mixed in with nearly constant rhythmic cycles of "Stop it Riley. Stop it Corbin. Stop it Riley. Stop it Corbin. Corbin! Riley! Corbiiiiiiiiin .... Rileeeeeey ..... CORBIN!!!! RILEY !!!! Stop it Riley. Stop it Corbin." You get the picture. Now multiply that by 4 hrs. Young mother seatmate made herself into a ball by the window and pulled a hoodie over her head. Seatmate man put in golf ball size ear plugs and read the paper. I felt like I was in purgatory. Trapped.

Giving up on the nap idea, I ate my peanuts and drank my cranberry juice and tried to study a commentary on First Thessalonians for an upcoming speaking ministry. I read about how crazed and vindictive Thessalonians ran Paul out of town, even coming after him. I felt like a Thessalonian. I wanted to run them out of row 17 and up into first class. I wished I had a parenting book in my carry-on to give to the "desperate and not so effective" row 17 parent. I gazed longingly at the parent in row 15 across the aisle who was playing Polly Pockets and Matchbox cars, wrapping up the two children there in fleece blankets, distributing snacks and reading books. I wanted to sit in front of row 15!!!!! I wanted to scream at the man behind me to take a parenting class! I was so trapped.

I heard that the terrible trio was going to visit Grandma; I hope she helped their situation. I felt bad for the people on their next flight. Don't get me wrong. I've traveled with young children for very long trans-Pacific flights and many others; I know the challenges. It's not easy to be a traveling parent, but it takes dedication to prepare, think ahead, and accept the fact that it's work, if it's to be done successfully. If a parent can't accept that, they should rent a car or invite Grandma to their house (said sweetly, of course). I sat in row 16 and made mental notes for an article about traveling with kids on planes. :)

When it was time to land, Riley started to shout things like, "The plane's going to crash. We're all dying. It's not landing; it's crashing; I know it. We're not going to make it." (Imagine that being shouted with a sinister laugh.) The parent in row 15 covered the ears of the children there. Then, the parent behind me got a great idea and started saying, "Riley, are we there yet? Riley, are we there now? Riley, are we landed yet?" And then repeated it about, oh, 25 times ... til we did land. I'm pretty sure there was no Air Marshall on that flight, or they would've done something to stop the madness. I studied the flight card about how to open the emergency doors. If I would've been seated by the exit row, I may not be here writing this today.

So why do I begin my "vacation reflections" with this ugly flight story? Well, when we came home, we arrived home to the normal "stuff" of life that is inconvenient and irritating .... a neighbor's carelessness, a broken phone line (still), bills, messages, and small problems. Vacation was over. :) Sometimes it's the little things of life that rob us of our joy. Give me a big challenge, and all of my best qualities kick into gear. Give me a seat kicking, shrieking pair of little passengers behind me for 4 hours, and my ugly face shows up. I was so tired, distracted, and anxious to get off of that plane that I left my commentary on Paul's letter to the Thessalonians in the seat pocket. :( I allowed the difficulties of the moment to capture my attention and derail my Christ-likeness.

Strangely enough, in 1 Thessalonians Paul was encouraging the believers to be faithful until Christ comes, not to be derailed. He said, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you," 1 Thess. 5:16-18. In everything, even the inconveniences of life. But, Paul ........ Paul faced a myriad of irritations and sufferings, reminding the believers in chapter 3 that he knew he would face hardships, so he does speak from experience. I wonder if Paul ever flew to Detroit in row 16. :)

Lord, Your compassions fail not. Help me not to be such a lightweight and fail when I'm worn out and tempted to focus on the problems, distracted from the reasons to praise. Help me be victorious anytime You seat me in "row 16."

Me ... safe in the Detroit airport at last!!!!

7 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Heidi Pocketbook said...

I can't imagine...but then again, I know three children who might just be like that on a long flight (if J. reads this, she'll know!).

I'm sorry you had to leave the commentary on the plane, however maybe it will be found by the right hands and be a blessing to them.

How did your fil's surgery go?

Wendy Widder said...

"Purgatory" is being generous...

George said...

Ahhhhh, isn't it great to know that "God is good even on our worst day (or flight for that matter)." Maybe it was part of the Lord's way of helping you leave vacation behind and be glad to be home :-) Thanks for sharing! Love, Jenny C.

Amydeanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amydeanne said...

Came for WFW, but this sure hit me! lol

my last flight with the kids was the 3 of them quietly puking at the back of the plane while 2 kids up front from someone else was screaming..

so I get it! lol

Chaos Cottage said...

Julie, I just wanted to let you know that I come here every day to read your posts. I find them inspirational and entertaining.


Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Amydeanne, I can so sympathize! But .. there are lots of other uses for the puke bags. :) Play "guess the object" with them, wrap gifts in them, and have fun talking with the kids about what we can do with them and don't want to have to do with them. :) You do tend to get creative on a flight ...

Chaos ... I'm so glad to hear that, and I'm encouraged by your sweet comment. Thanks, I needed that today. :)