OK, so this blog isn’t exactly coming from Baghdad, but it was somewhere in the sky over Iraq that it fully hit me that there really was no escape from my latest motherhood challenge: flying by myself with the Baby and the Big Boy to London. Whining, bored toddler, crying baby, in a very cramped space...with seven hours to go.
We’d been living in The Sandpit for 6 months and I was just beginning to feel the need for a mini-break to cooler climes. A family get-together I didn’t want to miss was the deciding factor and so I found myself at the airport, kids (un-drugged) in tow, waiting for an Emirates flight to the Green and Pleasant Land.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But I had a point to prove - my husband, The Pilot, tells me that on his trips there are always women juggling multiple children and managing somehow. On flights to India there are mums flying solo with six kids, he says (I think he’s exaggerating, but even so, I vowed to show him that I could do it with two, without insisting he chaperone me across the globe again!).
was while waiting anxiously at the gate that the fun started. “We’re going to go up, up, up and then we’re going to C.R.A.S.H,” the Big Boy announced loudly, repeatedly and with suitable sound effects. Despite my efforts to shush him, our fellow passengers started looking nervous. Plenty of people greeted us with smiles as we boarded the plane but the underlying message is always, ‘Ah, sweet, but P.L.E.A.S.E don’t sit by us!’
The flight was certainly busy and involved lots of multitasking. Feeding the Baby, at the same time as helping the Big Boy do a dot-to-dot, while stopping the snack tray from going flying....chasing the Big Boy up the aisle, while trying to get the Baby to sleep...Reading to the Big Boy while attempting to stop the Baby climbing over the back of the seat (rewind three days: oh good, the Baby’s started cruising just in time for our flight). The days where I could relax on an airplane and watch a good movie are long gone: now I am the in-flight entertainment.
Each activity I pulled out of my carefully packed bag of tricks lasted approximately five minutes - and the Big Boy’s excitement about
being on an airplane lasted about the same length of time. He was then ready to land, six and a half hours before our arrival time. But, thankfully, it was a very different experience from my trips to and from America. I didn’t mean this blog to be a massive plug for my husband’s airline, but Emirates is amazingly child-friendly (the Arab culture, in general, adores kids, especially babies). In America, the flight attendants aren’t even allowed to hold the baby, in case the little nipper is dropped and the airline sued. The Emirates flight-attendants are nothing like the Transatlantic Gatwick witches - they really help out. Kids are given goodie bags, babies even get a special baby pack, and a flight attendant takes photos with a Polaroid camera.
I was also really lucky to have loads of help from a wonderful fellow passenger - a lovely lady who played with the Big Boy, walked the Baby around and dived for numerous flying objects. Turned out she was a professional house-sitter, who also looks after anything left in the house, including pets, kids... I swear she was Mary Poppins in disguise.
The euphoria you feel on touching down
in the Green and Pleasant Land makes it all worthwhile. The crazy thing is I’m only staying three days, so I’ll be turning round and doing it all again before I know it - on the new, huge Airbus A380 on the way back (this worries me slightly ... I’ve heard it’s been nicknamed the A180 as technical teething problems mean it has a tendency to taxi out and then come straight back to the gate again. Adding a Delay to the journey would surely require Valium all round).
So, I dedicate this blog to my lovely husband, who has clocked up thousands of miles escorting me to and from London - I did it! - and to the Mary Poppins on board, without whom it could easily have been a losing battle. Blonder and dumber
You may notice from the photos that my hair is quite a bit blonder than before. I could claim it was the Dubai sun, but that would be bending the truth a lot! In fact, I’ve been to two different salons in Dubai and each time it’s been quite an experience, inspiring me to write a quick blog about hairdressing in the
United Arab Emirates. You never quite know what results you’re going to get - partly because the language barrier means your stylist doesn’t really understand what you want anyway. This means chit chat about what you’re doing tonight is avoided, but you’re really at his or her mercy when it comes to hair colour, style, etc.
The first time, my stylist was from Russia. She was chain-smoking outside when I arrived, looked really annoyed that she had to do some work, and sighed loudly every 10 minutes or so. As she was taking the foils off, unbeknown to me someone pinched her from behind, causing her to let out a massive, ‘EEeeeekkk’. The second time, my stylist used a conditioning treatment that turned his hands blue - he showed me his hands with glee...’You like your hair colour, yes?!’ He’d already happily informed me that it was his first time using this particular colouring product, and only his second time in the salon!
Being someone who, before moving to Dubai, had visited the same hairdressers for more than 20 years, I have to admit that I found both experiences rather nerve-wracking. But I can also see the funny
side ...and being blonder and dumber (I got lost on the way out of the salon last week) really isn’t so bad!
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