With all of the preparations, planning, paper work and good byes, I was certainly ready, and excited to catch the flight to Shanghai. I was ready to take that next step.
But, I was nervous, of course. I had been dwelling for weeks, if not months, on taking my 4 and 6 year old kids on that flight. That 13 hour flight. LA to Shanghai had been in my thoughts, in my nightmares, too. We have all heard, or even experienced those hellish experiences of kids disrupting already uncomfortable flights.
So, I prepared.
I read blogs, I searched Pinterest, and I started putting together a kit, for the kids, but really a survival kit for me. L.A. to Shanghai watch out, here come the Kleins.
I prepared the backpacks that grandma Jannie had bought the kids with “play packs” which were basically folding cosmetic bags that could hang from the seat in front of them. Some snacks, some art supplies and some things to build and play with were tucked away in the little pockets For them to discover.
In my back pack I had the IPad with a few movies loaded, headphones, plenty of goodies, gum, extra clothes in case of accidents (which we ended up needing after all the plane food didn’t sit well with Magnus’s stomach) and some card games.
As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared,” and I’d like to think I was prepared to entertain these kids. Bring it American Airlines.
We said goodbye to Grandma at 4:15 a.m on August 3rd and check our 9 bags…yes, we added a suitcase (I promise it was a good idea), through to Shanghai.
The family was tired after the 3:40 a.m. alarm, but everyone was in good spirits.
It helps that my kids are impressed with simple things like escalators, the TSA procedure, and seeing airplanes out the window. Everything is so exciting and new viewed through the eyes of our children.
We promised them a “special drink” once we were through the security lines, and boy did that Gatorade make them happy. Just our experience at the Eugene airport alone gave me hope regarding this flight, and this transition to living in Shanghai. We might actually be able to pull this thing off, you know?
We boarded the flight with energy and enthusiasm. If you know my kids at all you know they are enthusiastic people! Get these two behind something and you have a team to really rally! No entertainment was needed beyond the excitement of being on the airplane, taxiing, taking off, snacks and beverages, followed by landing. They slept for maybe 45 minutes each and were chipper the rest of the time.
When we arrived in L.A. my goal was to run them. They would be sitting for the majority of the next 13 hours and I wanted to give them a chance to run around and tire out.
I brought a bouncy ball in my backpack just in case we found some good play space to bounce it around, and luckily our gate to Shanghai had a nice open carpeted area. We bounced the ball until Magnus was sweaty (doesn’t take much) and then decided to walk.
Once again, escalators! Who knew!! Literally an hour was spent playing on the flat escalators, going round and round. Up and back. Forwards, backwards. And around again!
Eventually, we boarded the flight and I was trying to quell my anxiety. Stay positive, settle in, organize our things in our little space, snacks! Anyone need a snack?
Each seat had a personal, small screen situated on the back of the seat in front. It had been years since my last flight overseas and clearly times had changed! The kids immediately took to punching buttons and low and behold, movies! So. Many. Movies!
And they were zoned.
There was a lot of screen time throughout the next 13 hours. And to be honest, I was fine with it. We walked a bit, we visited the bathroom, we had snacks, discussed movies, read a book or two, napped. The flight attendants were lovely, and my “play packs” were hardly needed. For the most part, the flight was a huge success.
I think I was the most uncomfortable. At about hour 11 my hips hurt. The plane food was tearing me apart from the inside out and I was just exhausted. The kids could really cuddle up and nap, but I’m a little too big for fetal position in those seats.
When we landed was when the rough patch began but really it was fairly short lived. Magnus was tired, his belly hurt and I think his little body had been still for too long, so he was this ball of discomfort, ricocheting down the wide halls of the Shanghai Airport like a bowling ball. The heat was oppressive. I was worried about how long customs would take and getting luggage and we still had to meet the people sent to pick us up to get us to our hotel.
But again, my worries were unnecessary. We moved along as best we could. Gathered ourselves together, made it through customs just fine, and on to meet our ride. The van fit all of our luggage and was air conditioned. It did take over an hour to get to our hotel from the airport and it was 2:15 in the morning Oregon time at this point, but we made it. And the kids were happy!
We got into our hotel rooms (needed two since only three people are allowed in a room) and Aaron trekked down the block to get some food at Starbucks (chicken ceasar wrap, which was gross, and a blended green tea, which was refreshing), we showered, and headed to bed.
All in all, it went smoothly. We were delirious after over 24 hours of travel, but the kids handled it far better than I had imagined those countless times in my mind.
So, our transition out of the United States is complete. We survived the flight, and now we are ready to take the necessary and tedious steps to transition into our new life here in Shanghai. Since arriving, our parenting skills (or lack there of) have been pushed to their limits and those “play packs” have had a new and important purpose, but more on that later.
Shanghai, the Kleins have arrived!