When we made plans to go to India for Bobo’s first visit home, we consciously decided to book night flights both ways. Google had told us that the best approach would be to travel during the baby’s usual sleep time so that the baby would just sleep through the flight
So there we were at the airport for an 8.20 p.m. flight to Chennai. Bobo was fed and changed in the airport and we boarded the flight.
I nursed Bobo at take-off. Bobo slept off without a protest. D opened a can of beer and began to sip it. I put on my headphones and settled down to get my dose of mindless Bollywood. All that was remaining was for the steward to fix our bassinet. Bobo would move from my arms to the bassinet and we would relax for the rest of the flight.
The steward came to fix the bassinet. It was a contraption that required D to move out, much grunting and straining by the steward and a final couple of loud knocks. D’s beer began to leak down my arm, I hissed at him loudly and the third passenger in our row watched stoically as his knee was subject to much damage by the bassinet.
Bobo began to stir in all the noise. We looked at each other, panicked.
In a moment of startling stupidity, instead of patting him back to sleep, I hurriedly dropped him into the bassinet. The tight fitting bassinet space was the wakeup call he needed.
Bobo opened his eyes, looked around and decided that it was too fine a party for him to miss.
And so began a four-hour flight trying to entertain a baby who was sleepy but would not sleep. D played with him. I played with him. I sang songs to him. D rocked him. We had a game of ‘Bobo touches the video screen to turn it on’ and ‘Mummy leaps forward to turn it off in line with policy of no TV for Bobo’. Our stoic co-passenger played with Bobo for a wee bit and then slept off. D and I took turns to eat our meals. I nursed Bobo again. Bobo played with the toys we had got for him, all of which were dropped in quick succession.
Finally when it all became too much, I began to walk up and down the aisle holding Bobo.
And there was that moment I was dreading – Being watched by a bunch of strangers whose expressions varied from ‘poor woman’ to ‘poor baby’ to ‘thank God it is not me’ to ‘I am in TV heaven and I don’t care about the rest of the world’ to ‘what a useless mom’
This last expression is something I have used in the past. I wearily resigned myself to getting those looks. One needs to acknowledge when Karma decides to bite you in the bum.
After my hands and legs got weary, I finally went and quietly sat in my seat and Bobo, by some miracle, went into a long and peaceful slumber.
Bobo slept through the landing, slept through the noisy immigration queue, slept through the noisy airport exit, his grandparents’ exuberant greetings and the horn-filled ride home.
Oh, did he sleep like a baby or what!