You know what I forgot to include in the social story? This:
Oh. My. Gosh. That travel experience might have been enough to put me off of family trips until Stow is old enough to drive. I'm pretty sure I aged by about three years.
We left the house at our planned 4 am ETD, and we were checked in and through security with an hour to spare. After some initial renegotiations, everyone settled into a seat for the four-hour flight to LA. I had my misgivings about not flying direct, but given the price difference per ticket and given the fact it would do everyone some good to stretch their legs before the international flight, it seemed like the best choice. Since ren was traveling by wheelchair, we figured it wouldn't be too hard to make the connection. But then the plane pulled away from the gate and stopped. When the pilot announced a computer glitch 20 minutes later, I knew we were in trouble, and fifteen minutes after that, when they announced we were returning to the gate, I knew all hope was lost. After considerable negotiation with the gate agent, I managed to avoid a 1:30 am connection in LA and get us onto an earlier direct flight leaving within the hour.
The beginning of the end for Stow is when we got on the plane and then got off it again. No amount of explaining can make that make sense to a little boy on his first big adventure (at least the first one he remembers). He could not get on board (pun totally intended) with the new plan and went kicking and screaming to the next gate and onto the next plane. Yes, we were those people, but believe me, I tried not to be.
You know how to demoralize this mom at the start of a long trip. Keep her up all night before a 4 am departure, put her on a plane with three small kids, discover, after much waiting, an electrical problem in the plane, make it impossible to make the connecting flight, reroute her through an entirely different airline, which may or may not get her bags in time and which didn't know in advance about the allergies and food restrictions, and then give her a three year old who can't sleep and who seems to have been slipped some Red Bull.
The child slept for thirty minutes right after we got on the plane, a power nap, it turns out. And he was wired for the next eight hours. He was also hungry. After eating everything I brought for him, Sky, and Pink, he also consumed three bananas provided by desperate flight attendants in an attempt to corral him. I might be exaggerating here, but not by much
I really thought I was prepared this time. Each kid had a backpack full of his/her favorite things to do (some new, some old). They had earphones that worked well and fit. And I had made sure to check and double check that the airline had food for them. I also packed plenty of their favorite snacks for both the airport and the airplane.
To be fair, Sky and Pink did phenomenally. They adjusted to the sudden change in schedule and seat arrangement. They were good sports about not being able to eat half of the food, and they kept themselves busy and quiet, even when receiving the wrath of Stow. Bless their hearts, both kids even took time to write in their travel journals.
So, it wasn't a total failure, I guess, but it was traumatic enough I'm considering alternative ways home. What do you guys think about hover crafts?
****BTW, yes, I see all the typos. My iPad isn't being terribly user-friendly with edits, so I decided to leave them. Get over it. I know I'm trying to...