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Come fly with me

I was standing in a convenience store in front of the racks of single-serving snacks, trying to decide between a cereal bar boasting 30% More Juicy Floor Sweepin's and a granola bar promising High Fructastic Flavorgasms in Every Bite.  The clerk noticed my indecision, I guess, because in a surprisingly courtly fashion he asked if he could help me find anything.

"No, thanks," I told him.  "I'm picking out snacks to take on an airplane with my kids."

"In that case," he said, "may I recommend horse tranquilizers?"

Tomorrow Charlie, Ben, and I are flying to Louisiana to visit my family.  I am terrified.  I flew with Charlie when he was this age, but by then he'd flown several times already, enough to be used to it.  And I've flown with Ben and Charlie as a solo adult, but Ben was much younger and markedly less...everything...than he is now.  Although Charlie's behavior on airplanes never caused a problem — I do not consider inopportune excretion behavior, per se — Ben is a different kid under different circumstances, and I'm well aware that as far as that particular kind of luck goes, my number is up.

It's a crappy trip and I'm dreading everything about it, from the time my alarm goes off at 3:45 AM tomorrow morning to the time we arrive at my grandmother's house.  The thing is — and this comes up in every discussion I've ever witnessed about the numerous difficulties of traveling with small children, which usually features angry travelers claiming kids shouldn't be taken onto airplanes until they reach some arbitrarily decided age of reason, like, what?  — I know it's worth it.  There's nothing either kid could do en route that will make me think it'd be better to stay home than to take my sons to visit my mom and my 91-year-old grandmother.  (Don't get any ideas, Charlie. The escape slide thing is played out.)

So I will master my own fears — airport sprints; delayed flights; irritable toddler; airplane bathrooms and the mysterious blue fluid appertaining thereto — and go.  If you happen to be traveling through any of four airports tomorrow, or on any of three airplanes, between the hours of 6 AM and Holy Jesus Fuck We've Been on This Plane for Days, and you see me trudging down the concourse pushing a stroller and dragging a kindergartener, smile!  Say hi.  Wave.  And ask me for some of my horse tranqs, because tomorrow I'll be packing.

What's your worst travel story?  By the end of the day tomorrow, I may need to be reminded how much worse it could have gotten.