Airlines Discriminate Against People Traveling w/ Children: American Airlines Edition

What not to tell me (purdy please) at the airport check-in counter or What I was told yesterday when I got to the American Airlines check-in counter.

"Ma'am, you'll have to get get your seats for the second leg of your travel when you get to the gate in Dallas."

I'll have to do what? And why on Earth would I be okay with that? Why would anyone be okay with that?  I like to take pictures.  See?  This was us yesterday:

Where it's loud.

Just what does this "I can't give you seat assignments now" message mean for anyone traveling with children? One of these things, for sure (I guarantee it):

  • They've overbooked the flight (always the case these days) and there is a slight possibility you will be placed on standby and refused a seat on the plane for which you've already purchased tickets. This has happened to me twice since TM was born, once in Memphis and once in Atlanta. Both times I refused to leave the counter until I had a seat on the flight. REFUSED. In other words, it is NEVER okay to tell a woman traveling with a small child that she will have to wait 10 hours for the next available flight. Be assertive.

  • You'll be stuck asking other wary passengers, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but the airline wasn't able to get me a seat next to my 2-yr-old and I was wondering if we could swap seats?" By and large, it's up to you to work this out. Flight attendants aren't what they used to be. Sorry. For the most part, we've been lucky in this department. But these days, they're just trying to put out the fires. You can always ask them to help you with your situation---but the fact that you're split up from your baby in the first place can sometimes be so overwhelming that your stress level is already through the roof, i.e. you become the fire. This has happened to me---lately---every time I have traveled. It makes this Redheaded Lefty a mama bear. You should make demands. If they don't work, you'll have go to Plan B (their option).  It doesn't make things easy on you and, really, you shouldn't have to do it.
  • You may be seated at the back of the plane.  I'm talking the backity back.  Next door to the lavatory.  

Next Door

You'll marvel at the noise level and, if you're like me, take notice of all of the other families with children who've been displaced to the back.  This will be your view, as ours was yesterday, because it's too much to insist that your toddler be entertained by a decent window view:

Check out our view.

  • They will say to you, "I'm doing the best I can."  This is something they must be trained to say in times of stress, because I have heard it every single time I have had a flying-related issue.  If you hear this, this means they're telling you to move along.  Don't.  If you can wait it out, demand better.  The best is not the best at all if it denies you your comfort and sanity and the things you're entitled to as a paying passenger (you are not lesser just because you are asking to be seated next to your young child, ummkay?).  I don't care about the "Your travel is not guaranteed once you book this ticket" clause.  That shouldn't be more than a necessary fallback.  

Traveling these days is no picnic, for sure. I've mentioned that on my last flight (USAir), I was asked to pay for water. That's right. No more free drinks on the plane. Reason enough in my book not to fly USAir.  And I overheard an NPR story about airlines who're considering charging for bathroom usage.  I'm sorry?  That's discriminatory.  

I was lucky yesterday.  It has been much worse (better, too, though).  B was with me and my girl loves to travel.  When we arrived in STL, 10 minutes early (yea!), we were so glad to be home.

She got to meet her candidate this weekend.

We were in Florida over the weekend, where TM got to meet the river dolphins face-to-face. If you remember correctly, they're who she voted for in the last Presidential election (because, as she put it so eloquently, "They swim.").


Looking for river dolphins.


Of course, seeing the river dolphins (more accurately, the Bottlenose Dolphin of the sea family Delphinidae--ha ha) required she wear a lifejacket on a boat---not something she usually does in landlocked Americana. Hal put it on her (which was so nice and thank goodness for that), but guess who had to hold the front panels apart for the entire trip so that they didn't touch her neck? Bingo.


Doing the deed.


Me: "Look at the dolphins, sweetie! Look! Over dare!" (Trying so very desperately to cut out baby speak).

TM: "I wanna take dis off, mommy. NOW."

MeMe and Hal have a place on the Florida panhandle and generously offered us flights---as Christmas gifts---to visit this year. They bought bubbles and playthings before we arrived, so TM started in right away with her fuh-fuh-fuh-ing. I say, "Blow, like this: O-O-Oh." And she says, "Okay, fuh-fuh-fuh." Like this:


Blowing Bubbles


I've said it before and it still stands: The best thing about visiting family these days is that TM has a variety of playmates who think she's about the best thing ever. A direct weekend quote from MeMe: "Yeah, Al B is on his way and I'm so excited about that, but remember in February when he arrived to Savannah and stole all of her attention?" Never fear! She shared the love---spread it all around. Everybody got just enough.


She Shares the Love


I'd love to show you one with TM of my beloved younger brother, Clark (aka, "The Tank"), but he was coming off a two-day spring break bender and this is the only shot I got of him:


Clark Sleeps


While he slept, TM and I crowded around him to check out his tattoos. She asked, "Mommy, why he draw on his arm dare?" In other moments, I'd be in our bedroom and hear, "Clarkieeeeeeee! Clarkieeeeeee! Clarkieeeeeeeee!" She loves. Period.

Side note: He's six years younger than I. When we were much littler, he was my personal baby. Now, I never approved those tattoos and I don't really oppose them. If TM wants tattoos, I'll deal with that. Let's just be grateful he's not goth, ummkay? That's the last thing I need to fight in her teenage years.

Dinner plans were edited to accommodate 2.5 year old ambition---I asked for this: "A big, giant place where we'll probably find fried fish, aquariums, crayons, and colorable kids' menus. You know, one of those places where they're probably playing Jimmy Buffett and hosting a wet t-shirt contest much later." You know the type? Great for kids. They found us one. And guess what? They had a full playground adjacent to the place right smack dab on the beach. See?

Sunsets are pretty in Florida.


Water


I was a bit under the weather this weekend. I know, surprise surprise. I have been fighting versions of the she-brought-it-home-from-preschool cold since early February and am tired of feeling it. And complaining about it. I know everyone else is, too---I mean, tired of hearing me complain :-).

When my stomache hurts, hubs doesn't like to take pictures of me. So, in between Pepto Bismol caplets, I take pictures of myself. You're welcome:


Me, plus 7 lbs. And beach hair.


We had a great time and lots of laughs. Something very strange has happened to MeMe's feet, which weren't attractive to begin with. Her second toe on one foot has taken a left turn and is growing longer. I wish I had scanned the exact replica drawing I put together the first night we were there. Y'all, it's too much. Seriously.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming Airlines Discriminate Against People Traveling w/ Children: American Airlines Edition.

Not Pregnant.

Dear Seven Pounds: 


Why now?  Is it that I went off the NuvaRing?  You’re killing me.  I can’t wear my clothes.  My pants are tight.  I stood in front of my closet today in despair.  I feel blown up

I’m puffy.  That's right.  When I look in the mirror, I feel BLEH. 

This morning I was mean to myself and everyone with whom I interacted.  You’re making me feel a lot of frustration and a lot of negativity.   I am running like a maniac---I pushed TM in her stroller uphill against the wind yesterday and appreciated the burn for what it would do to you.   

I’m pretty much not okay with this. I’m not going to bring this up again other than to say you are not welcome here.  I am going to beat you down, cell by cell.  You have been warned.  And don't expect me to diet---I don't do that.  

Ashley

Went to a gathering.

Tonight I went to a gathering at the home of a friend.  Everyone there was similarly minded.  That is, we're all working toward finishing up a post-graduate training program in psychotherapy and we're glad and sad that it's ending.


Somewhere along the way it became very apparent that three of the six of us had consumed a lot more rum than the other three.  I was the one of the other three and I was suddenly aware of all of the times I have been somewhere, in college or in DC, when I was one of the other three.  And it's been the other way many times, too, because it's fun to be fun.  But not tonight.

When you're on the outside looking in and you're sort of grateful for that, it is uncomfortable and annoying when you're coerced into participating.  I was having a nice conversation that was repeatedly interrupted by their silliness.  There was drunken dancing and loud music and, really, I was so relieved to get in my car and come home to have icecream and update my blog.

Goodnight.

We sing together.

We sing a lot in our house.  I love to listen to music (mostly folk, though it varies) that I can sing along too.  I would most likely still be severely depressed if I had grown up in a home that stressed classical music.  I'd rather sing along to stories of lost love and breaking hearts.  Lovin' me some melancholy.  In our house, it was classic rock---


Side note:  Musical talent is the one thing (okay, one of a few things) you can tell me you have a lot of without me experiencing any sort of regret or envy.  I hated piano.

Our ipod has a songlist that is tailored to fit our (her) dance party needs.  We don't love children's music and find, actually, that TM prefers things that have a little groove---Stevie Wonder, for example.  He's one of her favorites.  

One of my favorites artists is Patty Griffin.  I can listen to any Patty Griffin song on repeat about 15 times before I need to move on and her song Long Ride Home is the song I've sung almost every night to TM since she was born.  She knows every word.  Here we are:


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