We are very grateful and excited to be spending the holidays with Aya’s family in Japan this year. However, a long (did I say long? Because I mean long) international flight can bring about a certain level of anxiety. And based on our experience during our last visit just over three years ago, complete with strangers asking to pray for us, we had every reason to be nervous making this journey again, especially since we would be traveling with not one child, but two this time.
Ellie had been excited about this trip for weeks. Like uber excited. Like having trouble sleeping at night excited. She would repeat our itinerary about going to the airport, who would drop us off, who would pick us up, the train ride and taxi rides back to Aya’s parents house. She would recite this and about anything else she could remember about the trip to anyone that would listen. “We are going to Japan in a BIG airplane, to Jiji and Miki-chan, and they speak Japanese. And we are going to have soooo many sleepovers!” she would say, and then repeat over and over for weeks.
I’m glad she was excited. It was really sweet actually. But thinking back to the last few Halloweens, she was really excited to go trick-or-treating, but backed out when it came to it. So I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen when it was time to actually board the plane.
We didn’t go in expecting the worst, but we sure did go in prepared for it. We had kid-sized headphones for both kids, audio storybooks on my iPod, and a fully charged iPad with a few movies loaded on it including the Christmas stealing Anna and Elsa’s Frozen. And if that didn’t work we had fresh coloring books, crayons, some matchbox cars, a few small dolls, oh, and of course, snacks! So many snacks! I thought. When we ate almost half of them before actually boarding the plane I started to wonder.
It turns out all this extra planning and equipment we brought was unnecessary. To our surprise, all of the seats had video screens with a million movies to choose from. What!? I’d actually heard of these, but never thought they actually existed. Well, they do, and it was amazing. With what seemed like an endless supply of bunny crackers and the ability to watch Frozen on repeat, we were all content and happy. At one point after take-off, Ellie pulled her headphones off, looked over at me and said, “Daddy, I like to fly,” and went back to watching her show while sipping on orange juice.
As the flight continued and as Ellie got more and more tired, the tone of the flight began to shift. Ellie may have fallen asleep, but not without whine-crying every ten minutes.
“DADDY!” she’d moan with such drama.
“My eyes hurt! They are dripping.”
“I want a show, not that one!”
“Chloe stop touching me!”
“My stomach hurts!”
“Argh! Why are my eyes dripping!”
“Daddy, pet me… pleeeeeaaaaassssseeee.”
Shrieks and moans like this for ten. solid. hours. At one point I wondered to Aya, “I’m not sure which is worse, the hour and a half screaming tantrum from the last trip or ten hours of constant whining.”
Chloe on the other hand…
I’d never say I love one child more than the other, but there is nothing like a 12 hour flight to highlight your children’s differences. Chloe was quiet and content coloring, watching shows and napping. She didn’t sleep long, but she barely made a peep for the whole flight. Well, almost. All except for the last fifteen minutes. Maybe she didn’t want the flight to end she was enjoying it so much, but she was not happy during landing. Kicking and screaming, she let the whole plane know.
She was so well behaved during the whole flight that instead of strangers giving us judgey annoyed looks, they gave sympathetic smiles that said, “Poor girl, she did great this whole time. She’s so precious.”
All-in-all, even including Ellie’s whining, I’d say everything went smoothly. Even after another train ride and cab ride to her parent’s apartment, nothing major happened. It was so nice it almost made me feel uneasy. But it doesn’t matter, we made it! Welcome to Japan!