It only took fifteen hours, two planes, three barf bags and a trip to the
McDonald’s drive through, but we made it back to the great state of
We left for Cairo on 18 January in two cars. We had to shove the kids
and 12 suitcases and 7 carry-on bags and me, two drivers, a cousin and
one sister-in-law into the vehicles and then drive 3 hours to the airport.
Once we checked the luggage with only ONE protest from one security
guard who noticed and questioned why I was carrying 14 kilos of tools
in one suitcase, I hustled the children onto the plane and got everyone
buckled into their seats and handed out cookies and chips and hoped
they’d all fall asleep. Yeah, right. Not in MY life. Anyway, so everyone,
even Randa, was doing fine…until about 45 minutes before we got to
Frankfurt. That’s when she decided to have her autistic meltdown.
Now Germans tend to be a bit on the judgemental side when seeing
people freaking out. They like order and sense. Well, autism just does
NOT fit into this neat and tidy box when sensory overload happens.
So, Randa had a freak out session and then I freaked out when the
flight attendant put. her. hands. on. my. child. So, I mentally flashed
through the scenario of grabbing her by the hair and slinging her into
the tight little closet of a bathroom and giving her a blue swirly, but
then I flashed to me and my autistic child being flung from the wheel
bays below sans parachutes and my other 4 kids waving with at least
one of them asking, “Does this mean we can get more sodas when the
drink cart comes by?” so I shook my head and returned to reality
where I told her through my teeth as politely as I could, “DON’T
touch her. You’re making it worse. She is autistic and she cannot
deal with loud people in her face. I can calm her down if you will just
back off and let me!” She did. I did. Everything calm and happy with
the exception of every nasty airline employee eyeball giving me the
stink eye. OH WELL.
And ya know, for the nastiness endured on THAT flight with only one
small meltdown, the next leg of the trip was worse on our behavioral
part (NOT my fault) but the flight attendants were the exact opposite
of the first leg of the trip. They were sooo nice. Like Bizarro World nice.
They put us on first. Gave the kids pretzels and color books and games
and puzzles and kindly explained to them that while the stuff in their
kiddie basket is very cool, they have to have enough for the other kids
on the flight. Fortunately, these were the nice guys. Had we still been
on with the first group of attendants, they’d have handed them sticks
and paper bags to play with and then shouted, “ZAT’S ENOUGH
TOYS FUR YOU, YOU GREEDY DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY OF
AMERICANS!” But we weren’t on that flight. We were with Bizarro
Now, under normal circumstances, I would never give my kids medicine
to make them fall asleep. But if Randa couldn’t handle a 4 hour flight
without a panic attack, how could she handle a 9 hour flight? Usually, in
our experience, her outbursts are louder and longer and her panic more
pronounced when she has several meltdowns in one day. Add to the mix
that she hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and I was totally digging through
my carry-on bag for a serious cold capsule. It worked. She fell asleep
just after take-off and woke up about 20 minutes before landing. Poor
baby. So seemingly, this flight was a piece of cake, right? Silly readers.
This is MY life we’re talking about here. Of COURSE not.
So, a couple of hours into the flight they started serving the meals. Now
I was traveling alone with 5 kids and it’s not like they’ve got 6 seats all
across from each other or better, little compartments like on trains.
So I had us seated strategically like this:
seat1 seat2 -aisle- Hamo Ismail Samiya -aisle- seat6 seat7
seat8 seat9 -aisle- Aiman Randa Me -aisle- seat10 seat11
There is a reason for this. Hamo and Ismail listen better in public.
Samiya, who ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom while traveling EVEN
just to the grocery store, needed to be on an aisle. Aiman, the youngest,
needs to be reeled in now and then, and Randa, well, we already know
about her issues. So, they put a tray in front of all the kids but Randa
and then serve me last. So we were wearing our heaviest winter coats in
an effort to alleviate some of the suitcase weight and it was really
crowded in our seats. Then all of a sudden Hamo started barfing. He
filled one barf bag and then took Ismail’s and began to vomit into it.
Samiya yelled over the high seat back, “Hamo’s sick! Hamo’s sick!”
To which I could do nothing at all to help since I was belted in, Randa’s
unconscious head on my shoulder snoring, Aiman still excited about
having a caffeinated soda with his lunch and afraid that if he moved to
help his brother someone would take away his tray and that would be
the end of his brown liquid delight. I tried to put back my chair back so
I could rest Randa’s head in the crack there, but got protests from the
portly man behind me who was also trying to eat and got the tray
pushed into his midsection. By now, the smell of puke reaches Samiya,
who proceeded to grab her own barf bag. Ismail’s chair started to shake
and I was afraid that he was going to start his own hurl-fest until I heard
him guffaw. Samiya then started punching him while shouting, “Do you
(yak!) (punch) think (yak!) (punch) that it’s funny (yak!) ( punch) that
we’re (yak!) (punch) sick??!! (yak!)” This of course made him laugh even
harder to the point that he could barely breathe and was on the verge
of an asthma attack. I tried to get up at this point and of course, the
drink cart was blocking me in. Then the brain started working again and
I grabbed the guy by his sleeve and said, “Excuse me, but my son is
vomitting and I can’t get to him and he’s out of barf bags!” Klaus, or
whatever his name was, sprung into action. He flew to the back of the
plane and reappeared almost instantaneously with 3 new bags. He
handed Hamo and Samiya new barf bags and gave Ismail some tissue
because he’d now reached to point of laughter where there is no sound
made and only tears streaming from his eyes. I thanked him when they
brough Hamo a soda to calm his stomach and we landed about 45
minutes after that. Yup. Never a dull moment with this group.
So then in the car on the way home from the airport, Hamo began
complaining about the guy across the aisle from him (seat2, see map
above) and how he was making a mean face at him like it was HIS
fault for throwing up on the plane. I gently reminded my son that
while the man understood that he didn’t want to be sick he was
still grossed out because a) he WAS trying to eat his dinner while
you were practicing for the Upchuck Olympics and more importantly
b) when one uses a barf bag, it is customary to hold it as close to
one’s mouth as possible and try to discreetly spew so as not to disgust
the other passengers. “What do you mean?” asked Hamo.
“Well, Son,” I replied, “You held the bag about arm’s length from your
face and proceeded to aim via projectile vomiting in an effort to hit
the bag. He had every right to be grossed out and give you the stink
eye. This would also explain Ismail’s laughter. He was looking at the
whole picture and seeing the guy’s reaction to you and THAT was
where the hilarity originated and NOT the fact that you were sick.”
We arrived at bribery point number two (fast food drive thru window)
that we used to convince Randa to get on the plane in the first place.
“Do you want anything to eat, Hamo?”
“NO THANKS!” He responded. Good thing. Compact cars don’t usually
have barf bags in the seat pocket.