First solo flight for daughter -- and mom
When I first started flying with my newborn daughter it was daunting. I walked down the narrow aisle of the plane carrying a small bundle with curly blond hair in one arm and dragging a diaper bag crammed with books, crackers, pacifiers and clean clothes on the other arm. I made sure to feed her as the plane took off because I'd been told if she was swallowing her ears wouldn't pop from the changes in air pressure. By the time the plane leveled off, she was done with her milk and usually sleeping soundly with her sweaty curls against my chest.
All of that seems simple compared to the plane trip my now 11-year- old daughter will take this week . . . without me. She'll be one of those kids with the big plastic "unaccompanied minor" tags around her neck. I've seen plenty of kids flying by themselves over the years but it’s something I would never consider for my three children. But this summer my mother-in-law proposed that Olivia, my oldest, stay a few extra days for some one-on-one bonding after the rest of the family flies home.
I know she'll be fine with her grandmother seeing her off at one gate and me waiting breathlessly at the Tampa gate. This isn’t some Jodie Foster action movie; there is no way for her to get lost or fly to the wrong destination. But I'm worrying a ton because I know she's a little tentative. She's worried about who she'll sit beside and whether the flight attendants will be nice. It's three hours, I tell her, you'll get through it fine. That is unless the person next to her has terrible B.O. Or if Chatty Cathy won’t stop talking to her. What if the guy next to her is sick and constantly coughing? I totally forgot to put hand sanitizer in her carry-on. I can’t wait until this whole thing is over.
Perhaps the very worst part, other than the fact that my daughter is 11 and flying alone is this: I can still remember how her little blond, matted ringlets smelled of sweet sweat as she rested her head against me and we looked out the window and talked about the clouds.
-- Katherine Snow Smith, Go Momma