14 Hours in the Sky… with Kids and Rainbows

Ideally, we would have closed our eyes just after the flight attendants collected our dinner trays Monday night and opened them 10 hours later, right before landing on Wednesday morning. Ideally, I would love flying as much as I love exploring new cities. Reality is sometimes a stark contrast from my ideals. But, the optimist in me still likes to paint scenarios in bright rainbow colors, even as the realist in me plans and packs for our next adventure.

Sometimes those rainbows crossover into my reality. And I enjoy finding those rainbows, usually when I least expect them.

We left our home Monday morning and flew east to Atlanta before boarding a second plane to head west to LAX. The boys each had their own packs filled with entertainment and comforts which served us all well on those first flights. But, to be honest, were never touched again.

Our five hour layover in LA felt as if we were trapped inside of a huge hour glass. As time slowly passed, everything became heavier, darker, and more crowded. We moved sluggishly as we circled the international concourse looking for gum, water, and whatever else we *might* need for our longest flight ever. The boys were done with walking! We pushed through, ignoring whining, crying, and complaining that may or may not have been coming from our crazy cluster. It was almost midnight central time, and we still had a couple more hours to stay awake so that we could hopefully just sleep the flight away.

Then… Bam! there was a rainbow! A playground was tucked off to the side behind the escalators and duty-free shops.

The boys’ energy levels- and moods- were renewed as they peeled off their socks and shoes to hop on the foam surf boards and crawl through the artificial reefs. Shaun bought us mochas to keep our eyes open until we boarded. A large sun was painted on the wall. Squinting my eyes, I felt that just maybe, it might not actually be the middle of the night.

Finally it was boarding time. Our coach class seats were arranged in sets of three. Arlo and I sat in the middle section seats, while Coen and his papa sat a row back and across the aisle. Screens displaying smiling travelers flashed in the back of each headrest, giving me a strange sense of comfort. The flight attendants passed by us twice before I felt like settling in. Everyone around us seemed content, Arlo was even asleep. So why shouldn’t I be? I pulled out my headphones and tried fitting it into every hole around me before realizing that this is what all of the adapters were about in the airport kiosks. I closed my eyes and prayed for sleep. I got it, for a few hours at least! When I awoke, the screen in the back of my seat showed a tiny airplane, surrounded by blue, and some horrifying words: 5 hours into the flight, 9 to go!!!

The familiar creep of panic began to set in. A flight attendant appeared. At that moment, I assumed he was from heaven. He handed me a Stromboli… and asked if I needed a drink!! My God, Yes! I wanted to scream. But instead, I just sadly handed him my defunct headphone cord with a pathetic “what now?” expression.

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