Is airline travel for the faint of heart?

PH-BQC KLM  B777-200  & sunset

The Significant Other, the Son, Roxy, and I recently visited the city of Prague. After years of staring at this city’s name on my bucket list, I thought it was time.

The Son wasn’t too keen on going but I played the mom card. You know, the one that induces so much guilt, the child in question (or young adult, in this case) has no option other than comply.

“Honey, mom needs this. You’ve been talking about moving out and I’m struggling. I really think this trip will help with the transition and who knows, it might even prevent  “empty nest syndrome.”

Of course he caved and just like that, I was busy searching for a way to fly for peanuts.

To my delight, KLM had a special fare and we snatched it up. Unfortunately, our good luck didn’t last. Little Roxy’s ticket cost more than our own and came with a list of travel stipulations.

The day of the flight, they asked for her passport (dogs in Europe have a document called a passport where all vaccinations and health notes are recorded), microchip card, and health certificate. They asked that she stand, turn around, and lay in her bag. The procedure was so thorough, I thought they’d call the pilot to do a rectal exam on the poor pup.

Aware that we were irritated, the KLM associate said, “You understand that it’s important that our furry travelers are comfortable and meet flight criteria, don’t you?”

I replied, “With what you’re charging, why don’t you give them their own seat?” The Significant Other chimed in, “More importantly, why don’t passengers get treated to the same considerations?” At this point, the Son walked away and pretended not to know us.

I’m convinced airlines do their best to annoy customers. “Will you be stowing that in the overhead bin?” the woman handling our tickets asked, pointing to my purse.

Tempted to say, “No, I’m wearing it on my head,” I nodded. Exasperated, she sputtered, “No, no no! Small items must go under the seat in front of you.” The Significant Other asked, “Isn’t that where Roxy’s going?” Rolling my eyes I turned to him and said, “Yes, which means my bag will be under your seat. However, if that leaves you with little leg room, perhaps Roxy can wear it on her head.”

Meanwhile, the Son, who was standing ten feet away but still listening to our exchange, sent me a text that read, “For sure this is the last time I am flying with you freaks. Never again, mom!”

Boarding passes in hand, we approached the line at security. I turned to the Son who was sporting both dark sunglasses and a beard that would make Moses proud and whispered, “If they pull you over for a ‘random’ security check, don’t make a fuss.” Sighing deeply, he inched forward.

“Ma’am, ma’am, can you please step to the side? You’ve been selected for a random security check.” A fast approaching middle aged woman with a ten pound dog and a purse the size of an envelope and I was being pulled to the side? The irony was not wasted on the Son who laughed under his breath as he waltzed past me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the size of airline seats. “Honey, are these seats getting smaller or are my hips spreading wider?”

“Is this a trick question?” asked the Significant Other.

“Don’t answer that!”, warned the Son, “No matter what you say, this will not end well!”

Muttering “idiots,” I squeezed my ample, yet fantastic hips into the “torture chair” and prayed the arm rest wouldn’t have to be surgically removed upon arrival.

An hour and a half later, we arrived in Prague and folks, it was worth every irritant that lead up to it. Pictures do not do this city justice. I believe it is by far one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

There is much to say about our trip, but for now I’ll leave you with a few captures. Stay tuned for more posts about our travels.

Prague 1

Prague 2

Prague 3

What’s your favorite European city?
Continue reading “Is airline travel for the faint of heart?”

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Why do children say the things they say?

Mother and Child

When the Son was four years old, I heard him say the three words every parent dreads to hear: “I hate you.” He didn’t yell or say them in the middle of a tantrum. Instead, in a barely audible fashion, he whispered them. Refusing to believe what I’d heard, I asked, “What did you say?” Furrowing his brow, he repeated the phrase but this time he silently mouthed the words.

Distressed at the thought my little man had stopped loving me, I called my sister, a non-practicing psychologist at the time. She assured me I had nothing to worry about. On the contrary, I should rejoice because it was obvious he felt loved. Confused I asked her to explain. “Bella, only a child who is secure in the knowledge he or she is loved can utter those words.”

Not content with her explanation, I kissed and hugged the Son every time he walked past me. I had worked too hard to create this little human to see him turn on me.

We were living in the Caribbean when the Son turned seven. In the middle of Hurricane George (one of the worst to hit the island of Puerto Rico), he decided it was the perfect time to complain that I never listened to him. Winds, that at 155 miles an hour, had us clinging to each other praying the roof wouldn’t fly off and his only question was, “Yeah, you look like you’re listening but are you REALLY hearing me when I talk about my Pokemon?”

Stifling the sarcastic response of, “It’s hard to to hear when the wind is rendering us deaf and very well might suck us into an infinite vortex,” I reassured him there was nothing more important than Pikachu, Charizard, or Blastoise.

Once again I was compelled to dial my sister who after laughing for ten minutes replied, “Only a child who feels heard says something like that, Bella.” Hearing silence on my end she elaborated, “In other words, he’s playin’ you, sistah.”

My beautiful boy, an expert manipulator at such a young age? For the second time, I refused to believe her and made it a point to both listen and hear my little one. No multitasking while he talked. I made it a point to hang on his every word.

The Son turns 25 in two weeks. This morning, after waking me at six to make him breakfast and pack his lunch, I heard him curse under his breath. “I’m late, mom. I have to hurry or I’m going to miss my train.” A rushed kiss and a half hug and he was out the door.

Two minutes later the phone rang. “Mom, I dropped my beanie on my way to the stop. Can you go out and look for it? It doesn’t have to be right this minute but keep in mind it’s a 32 euro Nike hat.” (Code for go out now)

Not stopping to stretch my muscles, I hobbled down the stairs. Looking left and right, I pondered which way he’d gone. I decided to go right. Alas, two blocks into my journey I realized the beanie was nowhere to be found. I quickly turned around and in doing so, caught my reflection in a parked car’s window. It was 43 degrees but in my rush to retrieve the beanie, I had left the house wearing only a short sleeved nightgown, a pair of black velvet house slippers, and the worst case of bed hair I’d ever had. I looked like I’d escaped from a mental asylum.

Not wanting to dwell on my current state, I tried to focus on the task at hand and continued my search. Ten minutes and two blocks later, I finally found the infamous hat. Holding the wretched article at arms length, I saw a man looking down at me from a second story window. His open mouth and confused stare conveyed what I was thinking. I looked like a lunatic.

Tired and cold, I crawled up the stairs. Stopping midway to catch my breath, I remembered something the Son had said the night before. Discovering I hadn’t yet washed his favorite jeans, he’d commented, “Mom, you never do anything for me.” Entering the house, I threw the beanie on the table and poured myself a cup of coffee.

This time, no call was made to my sister. I already knew what her answer would be. Only a boy who has too much done for him is capable of uttering such words.

What do your children tell you?

XOXO,

Note: This post is not meant to portray the Son as selfish, but instead, to exemplify the silly things children say when they feel secure in their parents’ love.

Does age affect the way we see Valentine’s Day?

Broken heart

Be my valentine!
I heart you!
Be mine!
I love you!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bombarded greeted by these declarations long before Christmas was over. Establishments, all the way from bookstores to bakeries, have been more than happy to promote the countdown to the most awaited (or dreaded) holiday of the year.

But before any V-day lovers get their knickers in a bunch, know this will not be a rant on the evils doings of Cupid and his arrows. Nor will it be a history lesson on Saint Valentine and his role in this capitalistic venture upcoming holiday.

Rather, this will be a walk down memory lane (it’s been too long since I did one of those) to explore my attitudes and reactions to the “friendship/love” day.

And so it begins…

Age 6
I remember coming home with a self made, decorated envelope stuffed with “valentines.” Cards illustrated with fat cats and the words “You’re Puurfect, Valentine” made me giggle. The fact that so many people wanted me to be their valentine made me feel special and filled me with joy.

Age 10
Valentine cards, some of them still unopened, filled my backpack. Rushing to my room so I could continue reading “Anne of Green Gables,” I spied Nana, standing regally in the middle of the hallway, a stern look on her face. “Bella, unopened Valentine cards show a lack of respect and appreciation to your classmates. March your behind to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of milk, and let’s read those cards!” I knew better than to protest.

Age 12
At this age, I had discovered that crafting was not only fun, but also a way to bond with friends. Since we considered ourselves too “big” to hand out valentines, we spent this day making beautiful cards out of glossy paper, lace, and glitter. The recipients? Only our very best friends (known nowadays as “besties,” “bae,” or “BFFs.”)

Age 14
Valentine cards were replaced with “candy grams.” For a mere fifty cents (which wasn’t so mere at the time), you could send friends a lollipop in the shape of a heart, accompanied by a message. Many used this method to send anonymous messages to secret crushes. The amount of candy grams received determined a person’s popularity and sadly, also had the power to undermine the self confidence and self esteem of many. At the end of the day, it was easy to see who was well liked and who was “invisible.”

Age 17
Boys had “upped” their game and arrived at school bearing gifts of flowers and heart shaped chocolate boxes. This was also the time when I received a poem from a young man named Eddie, in which he professed his undying love. I wish I could tell you what it said, but I barely skimmed the contents before shoving it into my pocket. Unfortunately, I forgot all about it and it was destroyed when Nana threw my pants in the wash. When Eddie learned of his poem’s demise (yes, I was stupid enough to tell him), he looked at me with contempt and said, “Bella, may your callous disregard for someone else’s feelings result in you never being loved. Really loved. Like I loved you but no longer do.” (Spoken like a true poet.) Eddie, if you’re reading this, please know your hex worked and to this day, I still believe love is an illusion.

Age 20
This Valentine’s Day brought love (and horror) into my life in the form of a phone call. Hearing the words, “I love you. Will you marry me?” induced a panic attack that lasted for days. (Did I mention it was my first proposal and came from an ex boyfriend I hadn’t seen in two years?)

Age 24
Second marriage proposal. This time my reaction was more positive. Although in hindsight, I would have been better served reacting the same way I had to proposal #1.

Early 30’s
Valentine’s Day was no longer a one on one affair. As a single mother, I went from recipient to delegated card buyer, to crafts expert, to writer of cards. I was also a shoulder to cry on when the Daughter didn’t receive a valentine from “the one” and the Son got too many “stupid girly cards” and none that featured Pokemon.

Age 35
Third marriage proposal. This one came from Christopher, one of my pre kindergarten students who, dressed in a long sleeved white shirt and black shorts, dropped down to one knee, and asked for my hand in marriage. To this day, the beautiful little plastic ring he offered me is one of my most valuable possessions.

Late 30’s
Valentine’s Day celebrations are just a hazy memory. I’m only reminded of this holiday’s existence by phone calls from loved ones (young and idealistic family members), eager to scream, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Oh, and by the low hanging “Be Mine” sign at the supermarket that hit me on the head and almost gave me a concussion.

Early 40’s
Valentine’s Day? Really? Are they still celebrating that?
Note to self: Include a reminder on Google calendar for February 15. Must beat to the punch other overworked, disillusioned, and exhausted women over the age of 40 for 50% off Valentine’s Day chocolates. (Remember to wear comfortable shoes since physical altercations are very much a possibility).

Oh, chocolate.
You have the power to remind me why I’m still grateful for this holiday. Thank you for that!

Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent