Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Cleveland Airport Debacle: Still A Warrant Out For My Arrest?

At a happy hour, some fellow moms and I were contemplating the summer travel season and comparing our worst trips ever with kids. Not surprisingly, I won.

We were traveling back east for a family reunion and had a brief stopover in Cleveland. I walked Rory and Henry (then 11 and 9) around the concourse so they could burn off a little energy as they had both been getting really bored and antsy on the plane despite Game Boys and other distractions. In the most crowded part of the concourse full of summer travelers, the always-looking-for-excitement Rory suddenly falls to the ground and pretends, very convincingly, to be having a grand mal seizure.

At first, I just rolled my eyes with annoyance. This was so Rory. But people were yelling for someone to call 911 (no cell phones yet). I knew the ER would never accept a diagnosis of “kid faking grand mal seizure just to annoy mother” (the correct answer) and just let us go. But social workers would almost certainly be in my future if I refused care for him. My stingy HMO was never going to pay for an ambulance ride and extensive emergency room tests which I could easily see running into the thousands. As a divorced working mom, this trip was already a huge financial stretch. We were going to miss our connection and not be able to get another one; flights were running completely full that time of year. And worst of all, we were going to be stranded in Cleveland.

So I was hissing insistently at Rory to get up and the more upset I got, the more he was enjoying it and the more dramatic the “seizure” became. As I look back on it, we all really stayed in character. I hissed, Rory seized, and nine-year-old Henry stood there rolling his eyes and grumbling his signature line: “Why am I related to these people?”

I was terrified that the paramedics would arrive and whisk Rory away. The whole vacation was evaporating before my eyes. So—and I’m really ashamed to admit this, seriously considered leaving it out—I started kicking him. “GET UP NOW!” I demanded.* You can only imagine how aghast people were. “My god, that woman is kicking that poor child!” Finally, just as quickly as he started, Rory got tired of the whole thing and just stood up and smiled, as in “wasn’t that fun?” I can’t remember: Did he bow? Leaving a cluster of incredulous passengers behind us, I grabbed both kids and ran to our gate insisting that we required a pre-board for medical reasons. Which was technically true. I wanted to beat Rory to death and his life was in danger, which is medical if you think about it. I’ve never been so relieved as when that plane took off. But they probably still have a warrant out for me in Cleveland.

(* You should never kick your child, ever.)

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