Learning to like flying

You know how when you have kids, you hope with every fibre of your being that they get all the good bits of you, and none of the mad fool crazy parts? Then you realise what that would actually involve, which is making sure your good bits are on display 24/7 and none of the mad fool crazy bits are allowed a look in, ever. And THEN you try it for a while, and realise that the effort involved in this facade is actually tipping you over the edge of the mad fool craziness in itself, so you just sort of settle for sugaring the bad bits and hoping for the best? With me so far?

Well. Turns out I’ve not sugared one element of mad fool craziness quite enough, and that is the fact that getting on a plane reduces me to a gibbering wreck. I’ve always hated flying, because it’s, well, FLYING and actually when you think about it, it’s kinda crazy NOT to be scared of being in a machine 20,000 feet in the air, with engines that may or may not fail, and if they do, it’s not like you can just pull in to the nearest layby is it? And you’re in the hands of a pilot that you don’t know from Adam, and who might have been drinking till 2am last night for all you know,  and even a model of sobriety might still suffer some weird and incapacitating event meaning that plane flying is NOT a feasible thing. And – again – it’s flying. WE’RE NOT MEANT TO DO THAT!

Given that I want to see people and go places, and somewhat inconsiderately not all those people and places are within the confines of England, Wales and Scotland, I do force myself to get on planes when necessary, using various strategies. Over the years, I’ve read fear-of-flying books, I’ve drunk to excess before and during, and I’ve even gone to the doctor for some lovely little tablets to knock me out, which in the event I didn’t take in case we had a crash landing and I was too out of it to get out of the plane and into a lifeboat.  According to the Husband this was ridiculous behaviour (and in the cold light of wordpress it does seem a little excessive) but I could not be persuaded, whereupon he said ‘Oh well, shame to waste them’, ordered a G and T, downed it along with my pills, and promptly passed out snoring for the rest of the flight, while I held on to my seat with white knuckles – all the way to Sri flipping Lanka. Including the pit stop on one of the Maldives which was basically all runway and no island so it looked like we were coming down in the (admittedly beautiful) ocean. Cheers.

These days, I usually take the route of refusing to think about the flying bit at all until I’m on the plane, by which point I know I couldn’t get off even if I wanted to. I then spend the entire flight doing a meerkat impression every time the bing bong goes off, trying to read the faces of the cabin crew for every possible sign of concern and impending disaster. By the time we land, my neck muscles are strained beyond all recognition and usually, so is my marriage. But hey, I’ve got from A to B, so as a strategy, it sort of works. What also works is having kids and therefore being too skint to get on a plane anyway, so none of this has been an issue before now.

Despite my mad fool craziness on this, I’d assumed that my kids would see flying as an adventure and something to be excited about, so I was pretty gobsmacked when my eldest announced a few weeks ago that there was no way he was getting on a plane, ever, and also confessed the night before the Husband and I went on our trip to Prague that he wasn’t worried about us being away, but he was worried that the plane would crash and he’d never see us again. He watches Newsround, so I know he’ll be aware of the recent events surrounding Malaysia Airlines, but I also know that this is almost certainly my fault, because he’s probably heard me blathering on about how much I hate getting on a plane.

I guess when you take into account all the potentially dire stuff that my kids will probably inherit from me whether I like it or not, a fear of flying is not the end of the world. But it is something that I’d like to nip in the bud sooner rather than later, especially as my eldest is already prone to worrying himself into the ground over nothing much at all (nope, no idea where he gets that from either). I figured the best thing to do is get him on a plane as soon as possible, so I have taken advantage of the fact that I have a lovely friend in Belfast with two kids the same age as my biggest two, and also capitalised on the fact that they have recently developed a fascination with all things Titanic, and booked a short visit to Belfast in November to visit the Titanic Experience. I’m really excited about this (except for the actual flying bit, obviously) and so are they, especially since (whisper it) they will have a day and a half off school for the trip.

Now I just have to perfect my ‘isn’t this FANTASTIC’ face for when we take off, and my ‘my, what an ADVENTURE’ face for when we hit a teeny bit of turbulence,  and my ‘I’m so COOL because this is NORMAL’ face every time the plane does that turning thing….and of course, my cool calm and collectedness will rub off on them and they’ll realise that flying is nothing to worry about.

Well, that, or they’ll be laughing so hysterically at my gurning efforts at happy, relaxed and non-crapping-myself-honest-guv faces that they’ll forget they’re on a plane at all! One or the other, we’ll see!

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