They say it takes a village to raise a child... the same could be said about flying solo with two young kids.
The days preceeding our flight back to states I had several people question my sanity on my decision to fly solo with both boys on a journey that would take about 24 hours door to door. Mostly my answer was simple "other people will help". Yes, that is right I was betting on other passengers to help kick my carry-on down the isle if need be or help me with a car seat. After all fellow flyers have never let me down before, I've flown solo with Keenan quite a few times (once extremely pregnant) and graciously accepted help from strangers even when I could have struggled and got the job done.
I wasn't let down in the least. Immediately at the Ljubljana airport I ran into parents of a girl in Keenan's class and they insisted on helping me get to my gate. Picture this Van in his carseat which is attatched to my rolling carry-on, Keenan on his trunkie (it's kid luggage which they can pull or ride on with someone else pulling them), me pulling Keenan, pushing Van, and with a large overstuffed backpack on. If anything else we amused a whole lot of other travellers. I caught quite a few people look at us then smile or laugh. Does that mean we were a funny sight or that they were extremely relieved that it wasn't them in my shoes?? We breezed through the Frankfurt airport in this manner to catch our flight to Denver.
The flight from Frankfurt to Denver is 10 hours... 10 hours of fun fun fun! As usual, even though I called the airlines to make sure our seats were together, they weren't! I might have gotten a little pissed and emotional because while we boarded first with the other people who need more time, we had to wait until everyone boarded before we could switch our seats around. The whole time Keenan is yelling "I want to sit with you!" Finally get all settled together in the center isle, Keenan on the isle seat, then me, then Van in his carseat then a very nice German man. I immediately gave the man a chocolate bar and told him "Thanks for your patience and understanding of my situation". He laughed... I told him he might not laugh after 10 hours of this and warned him that Van has a habit of throwing his food and toys... a lot. He ended up being a really good sport about the whole thing even after all the food and toy throwing...
Van slept about an hour in the beginning of the flight and after that mostly wanted to run up and down the isles. The flight attendants from Luftansa were amazing, every so often they would pull out a big box of toys and give the boys something new. Van back asleep 15 minutes before we landed. In true Keenan fashion, he didn't sleep a wink on the flight but fell asleep while we were taxiing to the gate. I waited to deboard until last since I had a long lay-over... that and I had two sleeping kids. Now what? Airport people came to the rescue. They loaded us up in a cart and drove us as far as they could, then loaded Keenan up in a wheelchair with some of the carry-on. They then helped me get all my luggage since i had to recheck it and go through customs. Then they took me to the front of all the lines (customs, security...) and brought us to our gate.
Keenan never once blinked an eye open. Van on the other hand woke right up and was HYPER HYPER HYPER. All he wanted to do was run and laugh. This is definitely where the village came in... by the time we boarded the plane to Billings pretty much everyone waiting ended up helping somehow. I had help entertaining Van and keeping him corraled in, one lady entertained him with her ipad for a while. Then when it was time to board I had people helping with my carry-on, the carseat, sleeping Keenan... everything! On the flight we all sacked out... I was exhausted, afterall it was in the middle of night for Slovenia time. Another couple, who happened to be from my church growing up, carried Van off the flight and down to where my parents were in the Billings airport. Their kids who were greeting them at the airport, were about 8 and 10 saw them carrying a baby were a bit worried; "You brought a baby back?!!" one yelled to which the other one yelled "Tell me it's fake!!" Kinda funny...
I definitely appreciated all the help that I received every step of our journey back to the states!
When we were getting ready to land in Denver I told Keenan we were in America. He replied with "Hey, I'm an American kid... that's pretty cool"
Finally about 10pm Mountain time I was ready to crash in bed... Keenan was just waking up. I told him he had to go downstairs and ask Gramma to put a movie on. Jet lag with two kids was definitely a challenge. I'm pretty sure they were ganging up on me, when one was sleeping the other was awake. It took a good week for both of them to get switched around.