Ellen Nordberg, Author

Please Remain Seated With Your Seat Belt Tightly Fastened

Boulder Lifestyle

Boulder Lifestyle, 6/14.

With extended family on both coasts requiring multiple flights per year, my husband and I lived for the day our identical twin boys could entertain themselves while traveling.

As infants, they slept on the seat-back tray tables, making the flights fairly easy. But the stress of juggling gear meant that I managed to leave my wallet behind while nursing them in airports more than once. (Thank God for compassionate fathers who work at the Hertz counter.)

As the boys got older, controlling them became more complex. Once, a four year old Axel caused a scene in Logan Airport by announcing he couldn’t leave Boston without a Yankees baseball cap. I was unable to convince him that no vendor in Boston would sell us a Yankees hat, and that an intervention from TSA was more likely. This generated much hilarity for every Red Sox fan within 500 feet.

Then my twins were five, and we were stuck on an indefinitely delayed Southwest Airlines flight. I was on the aisle, and the boys were next to me poking Transformer figurines into each other’s ears and shouting, “Megatron Rules!” The flight was full of restless families, and the noise level in the cabin sounded like a Saturday morning at Chuck E. Cheese’s. The flight staff got creative.

“Would any children like to come up and sing for us?” a female attendant inquired. Parents prodded shy offspring toward the aisle.

I, on the other hand, lifted my face off the armrest, and rubbed the foot print on my cheek left there in Aidan’s haste to be first in line. Axel reluctantly accompanied him. Immediately, the theme song from Cars blared overhead – acapella, off-key, and frighteningly familiar.

“I’m American made, I’m a large CHEVROLET!” Axel’s voice petered out, but ever fearless Aidan took over.

“I was born in the South, sometimes I have a big mouth…”

Passengers exchanged smirky looks, and shook their heads. Imagine having a child that bold! (Or tuneless.)

“I gotta SAY it!” the voice continued, although Axel was already back in his seat.

Then scuffling was heard, and a female voice murmuring, “Someone else’s turn,” but apparently Aidan wasn’t easily daunted.


Eventually the flight attendant wrestled the mic from him, thanked him for his effort, and a handful of people clapped. Aidan came beaming back to his seat.

Several months later, on a flight to California, Aidan twisted and twitched in his seat as we waited for take-off.

“What’s the matter?” I said.

Aidan turned his head 180 degrees in each direction, craning his neck over the seatback.

“What is it?” I asked. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

“No,” he said, looking hopefully toward the crew. “It’s just, well, I don’t want to miss the singing!”

What had I wished for? Children who could entertain themselves. What did I get? Twins who could entertain everyone around them.

Sometimes you just have to open your mind to the solutions the Universe provides. Especially when your kids will be carrying their suitcases themselves, and flying off to their own destinations soon enough.

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