I’m flying with a toddler tomorrow.
I’m willingly getting onto an airplane and “sitting” in a small, confined space with a 13-month-old tomorrow.
An energetic, hyperactive 13-month-old who does. not. stop. moving. until he physically crashes for 12 hours every night at 7pm.
Twice, in fact. Two flights in one day.
Side note: thank you, United States Marine Corps, for stationing us in a location that only affords a one-terminal airport with direct flights to exactly three locations in the world, none of which are my final destination. Yes, I’m secretly hating all of you who live close to an international airport right now. Life is not fair. This is proof. Moving on.
Did I mention that, in one day, I’ll be on an airplane with my toddler AND 25-250 of my newest friends/enemies?
You know how you always scope out your fellow passengers in the pre-boarding area before you get on the plane? And you see a family with a toddler, the unmistakable sign of an impending flight from hell? And you secretly pray to all that is holy that you’re not sitting anywhere near that headache-in-the-making for your cross-country flight? And how sometimes you even offer to give up your seat on a flight that’s overbooked just to avoid that particular mess altogether?
Listen. I get it. Nobody wants to sit next to the toddler. I’m his mother, and I don’t want to sit next to the toddler.
But it’s the holidays, people. And as much as I love you and respect your personal space, you’re just going to have to bear with me and my toddler for an hour or two. Because the alternative is 20 hours in a car with said toddler. Who hates the car. And who cries the whole way to the grocery store, which is approximately three minutes away from home. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
This is why, instead of packing or doing any one of the ten thousand things on my pre-travel to-do list, I’m baking cookies.
Because I’ve found that, while people generally hate you for bringing your toddler on an airplane, they also love you for bringing them homemade cookies.
I am not above bribing my fellow passengers.
Does it always work? No. But it will buy the goodwill of approximately 50% of a Boeing 757. And 50% is just enough to make air travel with a toddler bearable.
Sure, you can forgo the gesture and just hope for the best. Maybe your toddler is an angel and will sit quietly on the airplane, happily perusing SkyMall for the whole flight. Maybe your toddler is exceptionally adorable, making it virtually impossible for anyone to be angry at her for more than a millisecond, no matter how much she screams. Maybe your flight the day before Thanksgiving will be more or less empty and you won’t even have to worry about fellow passengers.
Because I love all of you and your toddlers, I’ll leave you with my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe and two tidbits of advice.
One: if you’re flying with a toddler this holiday season, take these cookies with you. Or, at the very least, take some earplugs for your neighbors.
Two: if you’re sitting next to the family with a toddler this holiday season, have pity on that poor mother, eat her awesome cookie, and just suffer in silence. And if all else fails, they still sell liquor on most flights. So there’s that.
Please and thank you.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Nestle Toll House
Active time: 15 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts*
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
*I typically leave out the nuts if I’m baking for people I don’t know. I’d rather not have to worry about nut allergies in a crowd of strangers!