How to Get Off to a Flying Start

In the last two and one-half weeks, I’ve gone to three different airports, four times. None of them have been for any adventures penciled into my calendar. I’ve simply gotten to play chauffeur to the accumulation of sky miles for others.

Both happen to be my children.

Neither happens to be aware of a little thing the rest of us cling to—like a clock.

030515clock (676x800)

And although I may occasionally skate into appointments with barely five ticks before classified as officially late, commercial aviation does not provide a slushy window of time for takeoff, and therefore I don’t muck about with where they draw the line. In fact, it is rocking horse manure rare to find an airliner that will keep their engines running on idle for that one desperate passenger who is racing to the gate and will arrive in 8.2 more seconds.

030515horsyhuggies (800x626)

That’s right. I think we’re all fairly well acquainted with the gate agents that see you barreling toward them, child tucked under one arm, briefcase slung around your neck, one hand thrust out in front of you with boarding pass in full view and your mouth wide open, stretching out the word WAIT and who then quickly shut the mobile hallway just as you skid to a stop in front of them.

030515wait (628x800)

They didn’t hear you screaming wait?

Of course, they didn’t.

You were traveling faster than the speed of sound during that last thirty-yard dash.

Who could blame them?

Therefore, I make sure to leave plenty of time to arrive at an airport so I’ve got extra minutes enough to get to the gate and go to the bathroom. Or back through security and out to the car because I’ve forgotten my phone adapter. Or the 1 ½ hour trip back home because I may or may not have remembered to turn off the sprinkler.

I like to be prepared.

These last few trips to the airport had me rethinking my previous bubble of cushioned clock ticks against the departure hour. On each occasion, we pulled into the airport parking lot and dashed. After thanking any and all deities for allowing my kids to get through the snaking security lines, to their gates and into their assigned seats, I realized I needed to back up our EDT.

The problem was me—not them. They were behaving as teenagers behave. I, on the other hand, was behaving as if I was just me and not transporting teenagers.

Teenagers need extra time to do things like:

– drop off their car at a different airport because they are not flying in and out of the same one, or

– stop at the drugstore on the way because they made a last minute request for much needed refills on prescriptions, or

– squeeze in a quick shower, a meal and a minor outpatient surgery.

It could be any of these things.

Or all of them.

Since I was the driver, I was the one wearing the mantle of responsibility.

030515mantle (660x800)


And that is a hefty cloak that refuses to render you invisible when plans go pear-shaped—like in my latest adventure with my son.

“I’ll meet you after school and we’ll go straight to the airport from there.”

No, Mom. I have to drop my car off at the regional airport in town because that’s where my return flight lands.

“Huh. Okay. Well, that adds a few minutes to the trip, but we’ll still be fine. I’ll meet you in the parking lot.”

(On route, I come across a traffic snarl, backtrack and then phone my son.)

“Hey bud, there appears to be an accident at the intersection of Polo and Branchwater, so don’t take the main thoroughfare. Use the back route.”

Yeah, sure. Where are you?

“I just told you, and now I’m reversing my route because of the accident and will be about three minutes late meeting you. See you in the parking lot.”

(I arrive in the lot and surprise, surprise—no son. So I phone.)

“Where are you, kiddo?”

I’m in a long line of standing traffic, Mom! It looks like there’s been some accident up ahead.

“Where. Are. You.”

Not far from Polo and Branchwater.

“Did you not hear me say there was an accident there just five minutes ago?”

There was an accident? Why didn’t you tell me?

*face palm*

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These precious gems are all tucked away into the of ‘Let’s Laugh About Them Later’ album, but throw two or three of these in succession into the ‘Best Laid Plans of Moms and Managers,’ and you’ve got yourself the makings of minor apoplectic fit.

As I prefer my heartbeat to be one that mostly goes unnoticed, and I’m steadfast in my refusal to support the pharmaceutical industry any further with additional prescriptions meant to alleviate the harrowing conditions brought on by guiding one’s offspring through the last couple of treacherous years up to adulthood, I am girding my loins for the next teen interaction and request for transport before take-off. It will go something like this:

Hey, Mom? Will you drop me off at the airport next week? I’ve got an interview for my summer internship.

“You betcha. Let me just grab my purse and keys. I’ll meet you in the car.”

Mom, the flight doesn’t leave for three days.

“You’re right. We may be cutting it close.”



Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

85 thoughts on “How to Get Off to a Flying Start

    • Yeah, I’d imagine the whirlwind of travel is still fresh and ready in your memory, Alys.
      Lately, I’ve been making a wide berth of commercial aviation. It’s lost all its spunky fun.

  1. Oh the stories I could tell! I felt every drop of sweat on your brow, every heart stopping, panic-filled moment of will-we-make-it anxiety…………… I remember me, hunched over the steering wheel, ignoring the speed limit, holding my breath as the teenager beside me rummaged through her bag checking to see that oh yes, there it is ………… she does actually have her ticket………. Allow me to offer you a possible glimpse into your future – a day will come when the tables will be turned and you can text one – or both if you wish – from the other side of the world to announce you are lost and they need to help you get unlost. Pay back can be sweet! 🙂 xoxo

  2. That mantle of responsibility looks as heavy as it feels. I am not seeing a bright future for myself with our two lads. I will need a poster of the ‘Palm face’ up on my wall to remind me to see the humour in it all. I am also always ridiculously early to airports… I personally can’t see any problem with being there three days before. Seriously.

    • There is nothing quite as soothing as knowing that other people across the globe do not find your behavior irrational. I think once you sprog kids, all thoughts of levelheadedness are tossed right out the window. You go from reasonable to reactionary. And people applaud you if you can make through to the other side without discovering that your pharmacist has been your best friend for the last ten years.
      But you, Cheer, will handle it all with aplomb, devotion, and a beautiful sense of humor. A heady recipe, indeed. 🙂

  3. Always guaranteed to rise a smile on my face Shelley. This is one of those times when I ‘m reminded of the benefits of not driving.
    xxx Massive Hugs to you xxx

    • Now there’s a thought, David. Perhaps I need to invest some thought into how I can get my license revoked–or at least banned from approaching any mapped out airspace.
      I’ll noodle on it. xoxo

  4. Definitely not good for the heart Shelley but a tonic for the funny bone! Sounds like you need to call in a SWAT team to draw up a tactical plan! Rather you than me with those airplane things 😦 😦 😀 Have a geat Sunday 🙂

  5. Still chuckling at my Sunday fix. Great post Shelley. I like to give myself plenty of time for anything too. and would rather arrive an hour early than 2 minutes late for an appointment!
    I also like to have a trial run at where I have to go before the event (which is why going to NZ on my own was such a MAJOR achievement!)
    Things going wrong though, all documented in our trip back from Honeymoon!! 🙂 🙂

    • Well done you! That is a trip and a half. I hope it was a worthy one. And I hope I get to hear about the wedded bliss globe-trotting blunders.
      I remember a trip I did on my own to Islay once. Planes, trains, boats, cars and a mile of foot-slogging through pelting rain to arrive at my inn. I’m pretty sure I can toss in the act of swimming there too. Memorable, challenging, but the best trip I’ve ever done. Doing it backward to return home was not nearly as exciting.

      • I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to NZ, even though the first earthquake hit Christchurch 2 days after my arrival (my brother is in North Island but I visited South Island and Christchurch towards the end of my stay). My wedding took up three posts this week in all its glory and fun, so hope you can check them out. It was 24 years ago but seems like yesterday sometimes! 😀

  6. I had a good laugh because, not only was it a sequence of humorous situations …… but it all rang true and familiar, given some minor changes in details. Teenagers can be the most frustrating beings on this planet, and yet can provide so much material for humor. I can unashamedly say that the best decisions that my two made was to move across to the other side of Canada. Much as I miss them, I now have some degree of control over my life. The problem now is how to deal with the teenage offspring of our neighbor?

  7. Shelley,

    How I truly miss flying and travel. Even now, just get off the island is a treat. I haven’t had the pleasure as of yet to experience dropping another (or my children) off at the airport to catch a flight but I do look forward to it as my ‘rents once did for me, thankfully, too many times.

    I recall a 2 1/2 hour trip to the MN airport many years back during a blizzard that took five hours in three plus feet of snow just to get me to fly out to work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I’m still pondering why my M’nD didn’t disown me at that point or stop and tell me to take a f’n cab…(plus many other times)… I owe them sooooooo much.

    I digress… yet another truly hysterical article Shelley. You have the ability to make your posts into mini-movies in my head. I always feel as if I am living the moment with you. Such adventures.

    Much love,

    Stoshu 😉

    • Stoic people those Polish midwesterners are. They certainly have embraced the whole definition of parenting.
      Poor folks just didn’t realize soon enough that they didn’t have to do it in the Frozen Tundra.

  8. Oh blimey, how close to the knuckle was that? You did make me laugh, properly laugh out loud, with the final 3 day contingency time! Add in ADD to a teenager’s normal failure to get ready and you have a mix guaranteed to make your hair go white in one airport trip, 3 days sounds about right for sorting that little scenario out. 🙂

    Rob’s clock-clinging cartoon reminded me of a scene from a Harold Lloyd film, good work, really made me chuckle. 🙂

    • Well spotted! I was actually going through some Youtube clips of famous film stunts (both my kids want to be stuntmen when they grow up) and I rediscovered that wonderful Harold Lloyd scene. Which then became the drawing… 🙂

      • Ah, so you were thinking of Harold Lloyd! I remember watching the reruns on TV after school when I was a kid, the ones with the voice overs. I wondered if you had seen them too.
        And, um, how do you feel about your kids wanting to be stuntmen when they grow up?

    • I love that expression, Laura. You do have a couple of corkers that come out in your writing.
      Maybe what we need is some sort of worldwide club–a drop in therapy group parents can sit in on after they’ve had to do the teenage airport run. Surely this should be covered by healthcare, yes?

      • Yes! There should definitely be a support group. Like Al-Anon but for parents of teenagers. Just think of all the health problems (high blood pressure, heart failure, trichotillomania etc) that could be prevented by such therapy?
        I’m flattered you appreciate my English, I usually say or write these things with no recollection of where they came from or how I know them. At home it usually results in my family rolling their eyes and asking what on earth I mean this time. 😀

  9. Hilarious drawings, as always. I always wondered what I looked like in my frustrations and dealings with the teen and now I guess I know. My at-home teen hasn’t gotten into the whole airport thing yet, but just getting him out the door for school in the morning is harrowing enough I can tell you. I think Rob would have a hey-day drawing our morning routines over here. Do, as always, love that you can pull this sort of perspective out of the daily frustrations in dealing with teens. Thanks for the laugh this morning!

  10. I bet you could make a BBQ out of a cow hide. It is a special type of genius to find the humor in a not so funny situation. Tardiness is a crime I have tried to avoid most of my life, and it never ceases to amaze me how some folks can be so cavalier about time. My eldest son is still a chronic later. He says 4 o’clock I don’t start looking for him until 4:30. I just don’t understand. Your piece this morning describes a common malady and does so with both grace and humor and Rob’s drawings are especially in sync. Another fine job Thanks for the grins.

    • You know, Benson, I think that dish was served up at my supper table repeatedly during my childhood. It comes from a hefty dose of parental wisdom whose response to many of life’s daily mishaps was simply, “Well, it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, right?” That theme sort of stuck. I like the idea of comparing the humor potential of everyday life to the culinary ethos of Nose to Tail. There’s something good to be found in every inch of it.

  11. Ohhhhh, I HATE being late… for anything! I was once late for work, and had such a conniption fit about it, berating myself, that my manager didn’t even dock me, because he felt I was punishing myself just fine without him, haha.

    • Oh, Alex, I cannot imagine there is a person in the world who would find fault with your work ethic and devotion. I have this image of you showing up at airports with a disposable sleeping bag just so you won’t run into any issues when making the commitment to catch a flight. 😉

      • Hahaha, not far from the truth. 😉 I usually get there 4 hours before my flight, and if that means spending the night beforehand…. that’s what I do! 😛

  12. “Rocking horse manure”… how do you come up with these, Shelley? You are awesome!

    Going to an airport feels like journeying to a hostile planet. I can’t stand the crowds, the maze of terminals, the impatient drivers, and the pedestrians stepping out in front of your car without looking…

    So I always take a cab. I look at the spending money vs. aggravation chart, and the money wins hands down.

    Of course, I’m not sure a cab would be able to make it up your driveway. 😉

    Hopefully you’re done with your round of airports for a while, Shelley!

    • *snort* I wish, Sue. I am taking extra “vitamins” in preparation for the late spring and early summer teen travel schedule. One gets to come home for two weeks before having to head back to campus for her summer internship, and the other is heading to LA for his summer work at about the same time. There’s a good chance I may be setting up shop at a Motel 6 within walking distance of the airport and telling the kids that this is where they’ll get to visit me during the summer.
      I hope the motel takes pets.
      And small farm animals.

  13. I LOVE the face palm. I do it multiple times a day … except it’s not teenagers in the house that cause it, in my case it is Husband. I think I might start telling him the opposite of what I want him to do … then maybe my success rate will be higher 😉

    • Yes! Reverse psychology has got to be the answer, Joanne. It’s that or give in to the fact that we might as well get used to the etched-in outline of our hands on our faces. Not the prettiest of natural tattoos. 😛

  14. I’m closer to Milwaukee, but all friends are near O’hare. I’ll drop off, but I refuse to pick up. I will pay your cab fare. Waaaaay too much of a hassle.

    • Ugh. It’s the idea of having to pay an hour and a half or two hours worth of cab fare that I couldn’t manage. That’s the flipside of remote living. Nothing is terribly accessible.

  15. Our 23-year-old, who left to serve in the Peace Corps in January, waited a little too long to get her driver’s license renewed, and the actual license didn’t arrive in the mail until after she left. It’s amazing how much it costs to mail something to Vanuatu.

    Will keep your humor in about the younger generation’s approach to time in mind. Also, from now on, will add “sprinklers” to the list of things to check before heading off for a trip.

    • Wow! Vanuatu! Oh, JB, you guys must be so proud of your daughter. What a marvelous thing to choose to do. I wish her a safe stay while she’s there. I hope it will be a most incredible journey. (And I hope you write about her adventures too.)

  16. Too funny. I feel like I’ve developed a well-honed sense of my personal airport schedule after years of trekking between college and home, and then my new home and parents’ home. But were I to add another person (much less two teenagers) to the mix? It would all go disastrously wrong.

    Recently our school sent 14 teenagers to India on a spring break trip (just two chaperones), and the prep leading up to the trip was monstrous. Picture telling these kids that they now need passports…and once they have their passports, they need to send away for visas…there was at least one kid who didn’t sign her passport before sending it to the consulate, and had to start all over again! I really felt for the poor teachers coordinating that mess.

    • It starts off with the babies, Abby. If you and Josh end up having wee tykes, someone, somewhere is going to convince you to visit them and the introduction into the annals of airport travel with children will be a manual you’ll likely weep over.
      Funny enough, the US Postal service used to allow that you could ship your children to some new destination. I think that stopped around 1913. Here’s proof.
      Thought you’d find it humorous. 😛

      • Shelley, that is…the best thing I’ve seen in quite some time. A few years ago I researched what you could currently send via USPS (live bees, for example, are currently allowed), but children? That’s awesome. Too bad they thought better of it.

  17. Hahaha! Reminds me of the time we went to Hawaii with three teens firmly attached to their iPods and a senile grandma who kept wandering off!

    • I love those “We misplaced, Grandma” stories, Jan. One of these days, I aim to be one of those women. I’m hoping my young family then finds me doing something quite risque and scandalous. I refuse to get old AND boring.

  18. Oh, airports and teenagers or even 20-somethings. Deep breath. Everything you wrote about was soooo familiar. But I have these memories of walking into the airport for a flight and walking onto the plane in the middle of boarding, 15 minutes before take-off. Maybe that’s a bit like remembering how nice a carriage ride could be, huh?

  19. I generally cut my airport arrivals way too close to the cut-off time, but last week’s trip to ATL had me giving myself oodles of extra time, there and back. I had to resign myself to the fact that while I was technically capable of flying so soon after surgery, that I most certainly couldn’t run through the terminal if I was running late. 🙂

      • I feel like a new woman, Shelley. My husband has to keep reminding me I’m not supposed to lift anything heavy. I genuinely feel like I’m ready to go back to business as usual, but I suppose I should wait for the surgeon’s A-OK to make it official.

  20. My goodness, you’re patient. I find all things airport to be very stressful and err very much on the side of caution as far as my time of arriving for check-in etc is concerned. Another hilarious post. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Anne. I think what it all boils down to is that magic combination of yoga, deep breathing, and a hip flask.

  21. well the good thing about airports these days is they’re like a mall and food court all wrapped into one. in my airport they have some of the best places to eat right there for you (alas i don’t eat and fly, ever. once they revamp those airplane bathrooms maybe i’ll reconsider). so at least you won’t be bored when you get there early.

    i do have to take a minute and mention “horsy huggies” by rob. the look on the horse’s face tells a very disturbing (and funny) tale.

    • I’m with you, Mac. That expression had me hooting.
      And good heavens, I’ve no idea how those airport mall shops and restaurants manage to stay open. Who is it that has the surfeit of money and lack of sense to buy something four or five times the regular going rate?

  22. Oh my! You were face palming and I, because I have the luxury of reading this while comfortably seated on my couch, laughed out loud when I read “why didn’t you tell me about the accident”.
    I have so many, many similar stories!
    and I just have to tell you: my son will be 30 in May (!!!!) and I often still wait on him 🙂

    • Are you telling me there is no magic age when suddenly the light switches on and all of our parental pearls are activated? Shoot.
      Glad you liked the post–and yes, my version is everybody’s version with just a few street name changes. 😛

  23. The best laid plans of mice and moms gang aft agley. Loving the Harold Lloyd reference 🙂 And the Mantle of Responsibility. Do those come in designer colors?

  24. I see from comments I’m far from the only person with whom this struck a chord! Of all the things I miss about our daughter since she left home, her lack of timeliness is not one. The real kicker is, since she’s left home and moved 1500 miles away, she is very punctual–when we visit at least. How fair is that??? Entertaining piece, Shelley. We really have to laugh at these things so that we aren’t living permanently with a ‘palm face’! xxx

    • Ooh, Ardys, I like the sound of there being hope on the other end of all this. Happy day! Although 1500 miles is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow in order to make that lesson a reality. Knowing how close the two of you are, it must be a daily challenge to shrink that distance through technology.
      And yes, I’ve now determined I’m taking a daily dose of ibuprofen strictly to combat that damage my own hand is doing to my head. Gah!

  25. Oh the teens are really cool and it’s the same all over the word. On the flip side however being with them can keep us young 🙂

    Loved your humor as always 🙂

  26. coupla thingz:; that thing about your son “why didn’t you tell me about the axident?” happens, it would seem, to ALL of us —
    #2. tho’ you’re the jester on the hill (2 parafraiz da beetulz) you apparently still endure/slog thru’ industrial-type areas in regards airports. you’ll envy me ONLY THIS, that across the valley, i can SEE the airport, some 7 miles distant — and it’s possibly one of the few airports anywhere you can arrive 30 min. before departure and not have to worry. much.

    • You’re right, Jay. Your airport location and ease of security hullabaloo are hugely enviable. Lucky duck.
      And yes, the teenage brain is a total conundrum to parents and science alike. Maybe one day, eh?
      Okay, who are we kidding. It’ll never happen.

  27. Ha, been there done that! And now that I have passed on my ‘mantle of responsibility’, I get to laugh while daughter pulls palm faces at her teen! 😀 Thank you for this most enjoyable post Shelley.

    • Oh, I am so looking forward to the day my kids have kids, Madhu. My palm faces are all going to instantly become I told you so faces. Life will be grand once again. 😛

  28. Pingback: INAUGURAL MUST-READ BLOG AWARD | Alex Hurst

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