We are all familiar with the feeling of gravity pushing you back into your seat as the plane accelerates, the front wheels lift up off the ground and the nose points skyward. But experiencing this for the first time with my three-year-old daughter reminded me that flying in a plane is not something to be taken for granted. The look of pure glee on her face as we flew higher and higher into the sky is what having kids is all about. These moments when we are transported back to our own childhoods when we too found joy and delight in life’s miracles are gifts. Getting to fly! In the sky! It is indeed awesome.
This trip has been something my daughter Cameron has been looking forward to for “39 sleeps”. I’m not sure she really understood what 39 sleeps meant, but every morning we counted down one more sleep. When the “no more sleeps” finally arrived, she was beyond excited. Everything from the limo ride to the airport, to checking our bags, to going through security was an opportunity for her to tell anyone with in earshot “this is my first plane ride and I am going to go see Grandma and Grandad and Ryely”. Ryely is their dog (and clearly equal in importance to my folks).
While I had been worried about traveling with Cameron, I shouldn’t have been. Whether it was the friendly guy at the WestJet counter (who gave her a “first time flyer” sticker), or the grumpy security guard giving me a full body scan, everyone was charmed by her. What can I say, she shows well! I was most impressed with the the WestJet flight crew. When I told the flight attendant that it was my daughter’s first flight, we were told that once we landed, if we waited for everyone to deplane, we could check out the cockpit. I thought they meant, lean in the door and take a look. When we got up to the cockpit, Cameron was invited in to sit in the copilot’s seat and allowed to put her hands on the yoke (wheel). As you can see from this photo, she was thrilled.
Sure, she spilled her glass of milk all over the floor when I took her to the Molson Brewhouse in Calgary Airport (yes, I was THAT parent). But getting to take the moving sidewalk with her, sitting in the lounge and watching as planes landed and took off, and seeing her eyes grow wide as our plane touched down on the runway was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a parent. I think we could all take a lesson from my daughter the next time we travel. Focus on enjoying the experience and leave your grumpy pants at home. You’ll have a much better time and you’ll likely find that everyone is nicer to you. And big ups to WestJet for knowing how to treat kids!