Friday, July 24, 2009

God's Laughter

God has the wildest sense of humor. Few people seem to know how funny He can be sometimes. So many think that He’s all stiff and serious and scary. No fun at all. Big Policeman–in-the-Sky. Mean Principal. Buzz-killer.

Perhaps because He relates so well to each of us on a uniquely individual basis, He reveals the jokester side only to those of us who have pretty sick senses of humor ourselves. He knows He can get through to us that way. We’ll get the joke.

I appreciated the one he played on me last week. It was pretty darn funny. A+.

I was traveling back to California after a brief hiatus. My loving husband upgraded my ticket to First Class because he worries about my bad back. (Actually, it’s mainly neck, but it travels south.) Anyway, I’d brought my laptop, my music, my magazines, my favorite pillow. Thought I’d do a little writing, reading, and resting.

I got settled into my cozy corner next to the window, and prepared for a relaxing flight. Got out my headset, put my mags where I could reach them, fluffed up my down pillow.

Then, she started coming down the aisle. The theme from Jaws was playing in the background as she slammed her way towards me, knocking passengers in the head with her gigantic carry-on, knocking their coffee all over them with her ample hips.

She plopped down in the seat next to me, hitting me with the carry on. Moaning and grumbling to herself/me under her breath, she grabbed the emergency instruction card in front of her and began fanning herself frantically. I politely greeted her, and immediately picked up my magazine.

From the front, the flight attendant addressed her. “Is he traveling with you?” I craned my neck to see a tiny boy several rows up, blocking the aisle while trying to climb up the side of a seat.

(“No way, God, no,” I entreated. “You’re kidding, right?”)

“Yeah, he’s with me,” my seatmate answered. “Well, is there someone else in your party? Who is in charge of this child?” The flight attendant seemed slightly out of sorts. My neighbor said something under her breath. The flight attendant misunderstood, and waited for the child’s mother to show up. When no one appeared, she brought him back to Grandma.

Grandma placed the wiggling little bundle of joy on the console/armrest between us. He immediately turned his body around until he faced me squarely, his cute little tootsies in my seat. I smiled at him, and he gave me back an adorable grin. My heart melted. Then, he started kicking me.  Hard.

As I’m saying, “No, no, honey,” Granny gets out a large Panda Bear. He takes the Panda bear and immediately hits me in the face with it. As I hold Panda Bear, little angel decides he wants to get down and play. He twists and turns and wiggles and kicks as Granny tries to restrain him, alternating threats of spanking with smothering embraces. Finally, she grabs a bag of potato chips out of the bag. (Which is taking up all the space under our way that puppy’s going under the seat!) Potato chip crumbles mingling with drippy nose matter are smeared on my sleeve as the Angel does 360’s in his granny’s lap. I fumble for my IPhone and try to get Sesame Street up on YouTube. Just as Elmo appears, the flight attendant announces that it’s time to turn off all electronic devices.

We haven’t even left the runway yet.


Okay, the idea here is that the infant or toddler gets to ride free if he shares the seat with an adult. Otherwise, you have to pay full-price for another ticket, when the likelihood is that the child will spend very little time in the seat.

But trying to hold on to a 20-month-old who doesn’t want to be held is like trying to hold on to an eel. He was in my seat half the time, playing with my hair, dumping my snack mix on the floor, spilling juice, hitting me with Panda. When Granny would grab him and try to make him settle down, he'd start screaming and kicking the seat in front of him.

Finally, the man in that seat speaks to the flight attendant. Everyone in the cabin has had enough.

The model-beautiful flight attendant comes back for a chat with my seatmate. She is not warm and fuzzy. She refers back to the fact that the child was unattended when boarding the plane. Then she pretends to speak to the child, saying things like, “We want to give the nice lady beside you her own space.” Grandma gets it.

When she leaves, Granny turns to me and says, “She’s getting on my nerves.” Then, with much greater volume, “She’s getting on my NERVES.” I’m thinking, “That should be singular.” It’s obvious that Granny is on her last one.

Granny fumes and mumbles under her breath for a few minutes. Then she (loudly) calls for the flight attendant to come back. My stomach starts hurting.

When the exasperated attendant returns, Granny starts giving it to her. She’s in her face. The flight attendant starts turning a little red, but stays completely under control as she replies to the accusations flung at her in rapid order.

Then Granny snaps.

“Shut up! You just shut up!” Granny screams. “Who do you think you are, Miss High-and-Mighty? You better just SHUT UP!”

“You are not helping your case,” ‘Miss High-and-Mighty’ replies, as she returns to the front of the plane to fill out a report on Granny. You could hear a pin drop in the cabin.

The man across the aisle removes his earphones, which have been of no help in blocking out the unpleasant exchange, and bravely taps Granny on the arm. “I know you’re upset,” he tells her, “but I was on a flight recently where the police were waiting at the gate for a passenger. You’d better be careful.” Granny starts to rev up again, so the man quickly puts his headset back on and pretends to be working on some important business project.

I’m totally tachycardic by this point. Ignoring little Kobe’s kicks, I lean against the window and pretend to be asleep.

Twenty minutes before the end of our almost-5-hour flight, the little boy finally goes to sleep in his grandmother’s lap. He looks absolutely angelic. A beautiful child.

The last thing in the world I want to do is disturb him. But, unfortunately, I can’t hold it any longer. I have to hike up my skirt, stand up in my seat, and pole vault across the pair to go to the bathroom.

“Why me, God?” I ask on the way to the toilet.

I hear God chuckling up a storm. The angels can’t contain their grins.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” echoes through the heavens.

Even I have to admit it’s pretty funny. I try to smooth things out with the flight attendant when I come out of the bathcloset. I tell her I have empathy for the woman.

Tomorrow, I’m going to be the granny traveling cross country by myself with a 20-month-old male child.

Pray for me.

Actually, you’d better pray for the person sitting next to us.


“And the Father will laugh,
Laugh ‘til He cries...”
Sarah Masen


Laurel said...

Oh, dear. I have made that flight and it was NOT fun. B'ham to Pheonix with a not quite 2 year old boy. I did have the foresight to get him his own seat and bring his carseat so he was confined.

I must say that the experience made me question my hard line stance against ever using a sedative on a child for the sole purpose of expediency.

I, too, feel sorry for the folks who for whatever reason have such a young one traveling with them. The only thing that really gets under my skin is if the caregiver is clearly making no effort to curb the little bundle of energy.

Good luck. Really.

Donna said...

Your stories are fantastic. As always they transport me to wherever you are. I have been on both sides of that equation, praying my children behave on the flight and now that they are older praying certain ones walking down the aisle will not be sitting next to me!

I just want to say thank you for the heartfelt and heartwarming stories of your life that you share so unselfishly. My kids especially enjoyed the reference long ago to Baby Einstein as Babycrack! Katherine is remarkable and so inspiring. Your family stays in my thoughts and in my prayers. and I must say James is absolutely edible!!

Warmly, Donna Murphy, Athens GA

Amie Arnold said...

I just laughed so loud at work, and I am not suppose to do that... Hope you made it back safely with the lil chunk monk. We will miss ya'll in LA.. xoxo -your middle child

The Knoxes said...

Thanks for sharing! Great, vivid description!!! Sorry it was a difficult flight, but it made for a good story!

Christa K.
Portland, OR

Kim Godawa said...

Oh my gosh - having no children of my own, you have painted an exquisite picture of what I fear the most when I fly! I agree with the previous comments that you are brilliant at transporting us to the event and letting us sit on the sidelines and see through your eyes and ears.

Thanks for turning our minds and hearts towards the other poor grandma to empathize with her as well. Thanks for sharing with us!
Still praying every day....

tricia said...

I too just laughed out loud as I read your post...because I have 22 month old twins....I can appreciate the tachycardia involved in watching that unfold..then anticipating your on travels! Hope you enjoy your time back in the South with James.

linda said...

Of course you know that the flight entry was hilarious and hit guilt buttons in a lot of us. Everyone assumes that their flights are going to be so "isolated" with each person occuping his own space. Unfortunately today's flights are just not that way. I also feel for the grandmother, being one myself. I hope your flight with precious James wasn't quite so conflicted. The picture seems to indicate he was an angel.

Your entry about the shark speaks to all of us about the many, many, many times we've been protected. Hopefully, we'll be more aware of his wings in the future.
Love you lots,