Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and traveling with children is a fucking nightmare

Pumpking Chocolate Chip Cookies

This summer, my family achieved that pinnacle of U.S. class privilege: a family vacation in Hawaii!

That shit is expensive. I nearly canceled everything. But at the last minute, Southwest started flying to Hawaii, so I made the decision that would ruin everything: To save money, I booked four flights from Oakland, California (where we don’t live), to Oahu and then four connecting flights from Oahu to Kauai.

LORD GOD IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN AND ANXIETY PLEASE FORGET ABOUT CONNECTING FLIGHTS YOUR LIFE HAS CHANGED AND YOU CAN’T THINK LIKE THIS IT WILL NOT “BE OK.”

WATER INCIDENT NUMBER 1: Within five minutes of us boarding the plane, Gargantubaby’s pants (and, next to him, my stepdaughter’s) were soaking wet, because I had given him a single-serving, Earth-killing Horizon milk container, and after shoving the straw into the container WHICH IS NOT DESIGNED VERY WELL SINCE THIS IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE BUT PROBABLE, he dumped it on himself. We hung his pants from the tray table in front of us and–because for once, for some reason, on a fucking daylong trip, I had not packed him a change of clothes (TO BE FAIR NEITHER HAD HIS FATHER)–he sat there in his diaper. With our laundry drying in front of us and one of us partially clothed, it seemed to me I should also be traveling with a live chicken and my lunch tied up in a kerchief.

Gargantubaby proceeded to squeeze his bowling ball of a head between the seat backs, grinning and making faces at the passengers behind us. The woman and her teenage daughter pointedly ignored him. Hmm, I thought. Who are these evil cunts.

Time passed. Art was drawn, movies were watched. Because Gargantubaby is 2, there came a time when he needed to run up and down the aisle 300 times. He decided that the flight attendants needed to experience him running into their space over and over. The first time he rushed them (still pantsless), one of them joked, “What kind of flight do you think this is?,” endearing me to her and her airline forever. HOT TIP: SOUTHWEST RULES. UNITED DROOLS. A very tall flight attendant mimed taking his own pants off to give to my son, again ensuring that I will never fly any other airline, ever.

WATER INCIDENT NUMBER 2: Later in the flight, SJ realized his Camelbak was soaked through. SOMEONE had left the spigot open, and elevation change, so explode.

What we didn’t realize until a few minutes later was that it had leaked all the way to the seats behind us. Which is where Onion Face was sitting, and as soon as she discovered this, she began to flip out in a passive-aggressive combination of huffs, lack of eye content, deliberately weak assurances that, “It’s OK, it’s fine,” and trips to the back to get stacks of paper towels.

So now we were the family who had created a marsh and hung our laundry out to dry, our own self-contained traveling slum. SJ and I apologized profusely. We offered to change seats with her. We offered, twice, to buy her a drink. I went to the back of the plane to get more paper towels. 

In the end, OF decided to stay in her seat with a plastic bag covering the floor in front of her. Proving, once again, that if you don’t smile at my kid, that shit will come back to you.

WATER INCIDENT NUMBER 3: While trying to get Gargantubaby to nap, I ordered a mimosa. HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL. After it arrived, Gargantubaby, pissed at the attempt to render him unconscious, kicked the tray table and knocked it to the floor. OH HEY AISLE 23 NEEDS HELP AGAIN.

We landed in Oahu, where I thought for sure I had given us enough time to change flights: an hour and 40 minutes. Our luggage came out quickly. We had a stroller, a car seat, four suitcases, and three carry-ons. We started walking, as if we had rolled up our home for the winter and were seeking pastureland.

That’s when I realized the Oahu airport is the most massive, most overrun airport I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been through Shanghai, Tunis, O’Hare, London, Istanbul, and Seoul. Oahu’s problem is it’s one fucking building with one fucking story, and the Southwest gates are LITERALLY the last gates on one end, and the Hawaiian gates are LITERALLY the last gates on the other end. According to one employee, it takes 25 minutes to walk from one end of the airport to the other. MAYBE IF YOU HAVE A JET PACK.

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As I have implied in the past, I have anxiety. This makes me extremely unpleasant to work with (EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET ME AND I MUST FIGHT AGAINST ACTS OF AGGRESSION I HAVE CREATED IN MY OWN MIND) as well as extremely reliable (I MUST MEET ALL DEADLINES OR THE WORLD WILL CREAK TO A STOP THROWING THE GALAXY INTO CHAOS).

Unsurprisingly, in July 2019, I had never missed a flight. So as the walk across the airport got longer and longer, I grew more and more anxious.

We stood in line for the check-in kiosks. We stood in line to check our bags. Anxiety was coming around the corner like a brass band.

The line for security was more than a hundred people long. It snaked out of the building and down the sidewalk. Apparently this was unusual. I ran up the line looking for anyone to help us. I asked a security guard.

“I can’t move from here,” she said.

“You can’t help us?” I asked desperately.

“I can’t move from here,” she repeated. “I don’t work for the airline.”

I ran all the way back to guest services in the next building. I cut the line and asked the woman behind the desk if someone from the airline could help us get to the front of security.

“They only expedite for international flights,” she said. “But you can just get on the next flight.”

“WHEN WOULD THAT BE,” I panted.

“Forty minutes,” she said.

“THAT DOESN’T SOUND SO BAD,” I said.

I walked back to my family, who had moved up in line. The woman in front of us showed us videos of dolphins she’d seen on a tour boat. We paired up to walk past a canine unit. And finally, finally, we made it through the metal detectors, which is when I realized our flight wasn’t leaving for another TWO MINUTES. OH, THE TRICKY FINGERS OF HOPE.

Leaving my family behind, I sprinted all the way to gate A13, which meant I now was the single person in the Oahu airport looking stressed out or running. I squirted pee into my pants with every step because childbirth and got to the gate to see our plane still attached to the gangway.

“MY FAMILY’S RIGHT BEHIND ME,” I said. “CAN WE PLEASE GET ON THE PLANE PLEASE.”

The attendant didn’t even look up. “Remember when you blocked NAME REDACTED from getting a job where you worked because you found her annoying?” she said. “Payback’s a bitch.”

I trudged back to my family, and we quickly realized that we had run through security so fast we’d left behind our bag of food anxiety (four sandwiches, vegetables, fruit, cheese, cold cuts, crackers, candy). Security had pulled it aside because my Trader Joe’s tin of dolmas looked like a hand grenade.

We got the bag. SJ stood in line at guest services to get us on the next flight. I took the kids to a store. We ate chow mein and drank Cokes and my son, appropriately, tore the lei Southwest had given him into shreds.

On the flight to Kauai, we sat in the last row, the only row with no windows. I put Gargantubaby against the wall and let him play with the top of my Coke bottle. Just before takeoff, I saw he was about to drop it between the wall and the seat, and because for some reason this mattered to me, I reached for it so fast I punched the armrest. Chow mein surged into the base of my throat. My middle finger was so bruised I couldn’t pick up a suitcase for the rest of the trip, and it hurt for over a month.

Forty-five minutes later, we were in Lihue. We called a taxi to take us to Rent-a-Wreck, another of my schemes to save us money, which it did, BUT WAIT: They’d told me no one would be there when we arrived because of an “emergency.” When we got there, I saw all the cars were Toyota Echos, and it really looked like all our luggage was not going to fit in the trunk. I resumed panicking and begged the taxi driver, who hadn’t uttered a single word and was almost invisible behind his beard and sunglasses, to stay. He gruffly informed me his work was done here.

“I’LL PAY YOU,” I shrieked.

“The luggage will fit,” he said.

“The luggage will fit,” SJ said.

We rolled down the car windows and SJ shoved the luggage into the trunk while I kept Gargantubaby from running around the parking lot, and then SJ installed the car seat and I filled out the drop-off forms. It was, as they say, hot as balls. That was when we realized the air-conditioning didn’t work. SJ checked a couple of the other cars. No air-conditioning there, either. Air-conditioning did not seem to be a thing in Hawaii.

We drove north. I had a fight with Rent-a-Wreck over text message about the fact that they’d overcharged us and the air-conditioning didn’t work. They declined to drive a replacement car 45 minutes north to our condo. We stopped for juice. We stopped for frozen yogurt. We stopped at a grocery store. We drove to the condo and opened all the windows. SJ unloaded the car while I watched the kids run up and down the stairs, a novelty for them.

SJ and I were still wearing jeans. SJ was wearing socks with water shoes because he doesn’t give a fuck. We stood outside feeling the breeze and looking out over the parking lot at beautiful green hills.

“There’s a rainstorm in the canyon,” SJ said, pointing.

We gazed together, breathing.

“There’s a racist lamp in there,” I said.

“Aha. Thanks for the warning.”

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We had dinner on the patio. SJ had a beer, and I started a bottle of rosé. We all took baths and showers and went to bed at 9:30. We slept like babies (all of us) with the fans on, and I woke up at 6 a.m. to Gargantubaby snuggling in my arms. The sun rose over the ocean.

These cookies weren’t that good, so I won’t reveal the source. But cookies. You need:

Oh, fuck it, I’m tired. Here’s the recipe.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Caitlin says:

    This is probably super awkward, but I did want to let you know that since I found your blog, I look forward to your new posts and get a little thrill every time I see an email in my inbox saying a new one is up. My son is about 6 months behind you, and I relate deeply to the way you talk about yours (and have since I was pregnant, reading about your pregnancy.) All to say that I find your writing hilarious and heart-warming at the same time, and just wanted to let you know that you have a dedicated fan (in as non-creepy a way as is possible). Thanks for continuing to share!

    Like

    1. What a sweetheart!! Thank you so much, Caitlin! This makes my entire day. :))))

      Like

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