So on Thursday, from 2 am Israel time to 5:30 pm New York time (with a 2-hour stop in Geneva), I experienced the worst trans Atlantic flight ever.
Koala was a wreck. This is a boy who, when overtired, refuses to make that better by actually sleeping. Ah, yes, all kids do that, you may be saying to yourself. They sure do. However, most kids conk out at some point. After ten minutes of crying. 20 minutes of wailing. 30 minutes of heaving.
What about 45 minutes straight of hysterical, tears streaming, snot flowing, eyes puffing, red faced bawling?
Oh, and then not falling into more than a 15 minute sleep after that?
I think Koala cried for 30% of the two flights and slept for a total of one hour, 20 minutes of which were in my arms in the airplane bathroom.
Add in the stranger anxiety which included a new set of crying every time a friendly flight attendant or nice old lady gave him a coo.
I could go on and on but I’m too exhausted from, well, you know.
Anyway, after reaching my mom’s house by 6:30 pm yesterday I gave Koala a little sponge bath, tried to acquaint him with the house, fed him a bit of yogurt and was ready to put him to bed. I didn’t want to just put him down after he proved over and over his tendency towards being overwhelmed and frightened, so first I took him into my childhood room and got into my childhood bed and laid him on top of me.
After 20 long hours of travel and tantrums and torture, we laid down and just fell into a sort of calm peace together. I watched his little body go up and down with my breathing.
After a minute, I heard Koala make his ‘heh’ noise, what he uses to engage us in conversation.
So I repeated, “heh.”
He responded, “heh.”
We go back and forth for a few minutes, just “heh” and “hmph” in different tones and pitches, sometimes right after each other, sometimes with pauses.
An actual conversation, and after all I went through I basked in the enjoyment of it: a pure moment. As if we were retelling the tale of all we had gone through together.
Part of me wanted to cry in manic happiness (and it wouldn’t have been that hard after the sky-high meltdowns). But after a few minutes of breathing and “heh” I started giggling softly. Koala went up and down on my chest and with that he giggled, too… and soon we were laughing together and it just kept going.
Of course, it’s things like that that make me forget the torture. But it was also pure Koala; it was me and another person on that bed, being ourselves with each other. He was just being himself, a separate real person. Talking to me.
And like a childhood sleep over, he eventually fell asleep, all the while offering last hushed “heh”s, in quieter and quieter tones.