So, we have a few minor logistical problems here at chez parisienne. The first is that our nanny has to take six weeks off this summer to go back home to Côte d'Ivoire to deal with some administrative problems. So, for the last two weeks of August and the first four of September, we have no child care.
We've decided on a classic French solution: we're going on vacation! I am using up my vacation time practically all at once, taking two weeks in August in France and three in September in Seattle. This will leave one week at the beginning of September still unaccounted for, but I'm hoping blindly that grandparents or telecommuting might take care of it.
Why complain about five weeks of vacation, you ask? Well, my husband only has four, and there lies the problem: I had originally planned to leave for Seattle alone with le Petit one week early and my husband would join us a week later.
So I started researching car seats for the plane. Our current seat is so heavy and bulky, with its huge metal stabilizing foot, that dragging it through an airport is unthinkable. Alas, taking car seats on planes doesn't appear to be a European concern, since none of the manufacturers offer anything like an FAA approval sticker and none of the models on the market look compact or light enough for plane travel.
In my research about toddler plane travel I stumbled upon this blog entry and this article which make me shake in my boots. Le Petit is no big sleeper, and I fully expect ten long, loud, squirmy and restless hours on that mercifully direct flight from Paris to Seattle. Will angry passengers like the ones described and self-described in the numerous comments mob us and throw us from the plane?
On the one hand, I miss Seattle. Three weeks back home would give me plenty of time to catch up with family, catch my breath, and get over the staggering nine hours of jetlag before heading home to face a largely vacationless rest of the year.
On the other hand, there are so many ways this could be misery. I could lug a car seat to the gate only to find it won't fit in the seat, then be forced to somehow confine le Petit to his adult seat for the duration of the flight. I could find myself sitting near some of the people who consider having to put up with children on flights to be the ultimate injustice. I could be asked to drug my child with Benedryl and be unceremoniously ejected from the plane when I refuse. To say nothing of all of the details of diaper changes and baggage wrangling I can't as yet picture doing by myself.
As you can see, I'm having no problem picturing the worst case scenario. I'm hoping that you, dear readers, can provide me with a reality check. Le Petit will be 26 months old when our trip is scheduled. Am I nuts? Or is this workable?