For a long time, my girls were able to travel everywhere with me.  We flew so frequently that not only were they expert travelers in their own right, breezing through security with nary a care, and faster than many well-suited business travelers, they achieved Platinum Status on American Airlines. This is the trip where we lost all credibility as frequent flyers and I am surprised we didn’t have our status revoked.

It’s roughly 2013, and I am traveling with my 5-year-old and 7-year-old from DFW to Panama.  This is an easy flight, just an hour and a half long.  However, there is a storm over Galveston, a significant one, apparently unpredicted by the weatherman in Oz or the FAA, and the pilot announces that we will need a 120-minute redirect back to the gate to refuel.

I am the prepared parent.  I keep a “Bag of Wonders” ready at all times.  Snacks.  Games.  Drawing supplies.  Electronics.  Extra outfits.  Jackets.  Blanket. I even change things out regularly to surprise and delight my girls.  When you travel with kids, this bag is crucial, especially on long flights.   Distractions, activities, and snacks make for successful flights with kids.

Inexplicably, my “bag of wonders” is… depleted.  We have used every item in the bag.  This has NEVER happened. This is a disaster. Accordingly, the flight has also run out of inflight meals so the girls are eating almond M&Ms and potato chips….  Washed down with ginger ale.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 eat organic, whole grain, farm-fresh food. They do NOT eat M&Ms nor potato chips, heaven forbid SODA. They are in heaven! VIVA!!

The next thing I know, Thing 2 has found the Latin/salsa station on the airplane radio and is dancing in her seat like she has been stung by a thousand bees.  Probably has nothing to do with the M&M’s… and she screams out: !SALSA! every 5 seconds (super loud because she is wearing my Bose noise-canceling headset). Silent tears of laughter are streaming down my face, because what else can you do??

On my backup headset, Thing 1 is listening to the musical, Les Miserables. She is singing along as well (I am curious as to why a musical set in France during the French Revolution insists the actors use a British accent…).  She is embracing the accent- which is awesome with her missing two front teeth!

The love for this musical is fresh, as we have just seen it at a regional theater on Coronado island visiting the iconic Del Coronado hotel. The girls were fascinated with Jean Val Jean as inmate turned father, and compared the innkeeper’s wife with their step-grandmother, although their grandmother is a bit more outrageous.

We.  Are.  A.  Delight.

Oh, and I think I may have lice. If the kids got it… I got it. I have a giant mop of hair. At this moment,  I look like a monkey scratching my head (or maybe I just look like I am also listening to the salsa station… ). Correspondingly,  every time I scratch my head, my hair expands. I have surpassed Gilda Radner.  Laugh at me.  Feel free.  I will tell my Panamanian Aunties tomorrow and how they will howl! Maybe they will also have a nice, STRONG comb I can borrow, the wimpy plastic lice combs in the US just do NOT stand up to my Afro-Caribbean hair.

The flight attendant just came by and surreptitiously handed me a tiny Tito’s vodka with a shrug and a sympathetic smile. No charge. She is lovely.  If only I had my guitar case to put out in the aisle! From my seat, I can see the flight attendants trying not to laugh each time !SALSA! gets yelled out, or when Thing 1’s volume of Les Mis gets louder before I remind her we can hear her. I realize with a smile, that to them, we ARE the In-Flight Entertainment.

Mom’s Myth Busters next episode… Part 1: if you add a red, almond M&M to a plastic cup of Ginger Ale, it turns into a full cup of foamy-strawberry-frappuccino looking cup of goodness that will stain any surface…TRUE. Part 2: no matter how hard you try, when you spill a bag of Ruffles on the floor, they expand to a quantity that will never fit back in the original bag…(also TRUE).

Now they tell us we are being rerouted over the Gulf due to more weather… Do you think I can get more Titos?

It is hard to believe this trip was 7 years ago. If it happened this summer the musicals would be Hamilton or Six the Musical, and of course, they would have Air Pods in their ears. I am amazed by how my now-middle-school children can learn every word of hours and hours of musicals. I know some politicians who don’t know our founding founders’ history or documents as well. I look forward to getting back on the road with my family (although as my husband reads these stories, he will want to make sure his seat is far away from ours so he isn’t associated with the madness). Traveling is a wonderful way to learn about ourselves and the world around us.