Jackie Little: The First Brief Hop
The First Brief Hop
Scoop's Jackie Little ponders the absurdities of modern life.
Ho Hum, here we go again:, another little milestone on the way to a child's independence, another lump in the throat to be swallowed down, and of course, another fiasco courtesy of yours truly.
My eldest boy now aged nine received a very kind invitation from his Uncle and Aunty to join them in Auckland for the weekend as a belated birthday treat (Aunty was a trifle preoccupied with recovering from a life threatening illness at the actual date).
We had great fun planning the occasion, cloak and dagger style, with me dropping the odd hint about a forthcoming surprise but disclosing no details.
Being the highly vigilant detective he is and the useless furtive that I am, he gradually worked out that it was something to do with his beloved Uncle and Aunt, and that a certain airline was to be involved.
However, it was not until we were zooming towards the airport that I handed him the full itinerary, including a list of activity options for him to tick off during his journey, that the whole exciting deal became apparent to him.
Yes, he was going to fly for the first time, and moreover he was going alone like a grown up. When he got there he could choose from kayaking, mini golf, a trip to the SkyTower and all manner of other fab activities plus his choice of eatery in the evening (amazingly he chose Pizza!).
Bless him, he was overwhelmed and told me he could cry with happiness (sniff!). It was only as we were approaching the airport that little signs of nervousness crept in.
"I wish I was going with you" I told him. "I sort of wish you were too". came the unprecedented reply. Note the, "sort of"! One could almost get the impression he was more after a bit of reassurance than the joy of his mum's company.
Once there he kept looking at me with a sort of low level panic and saying he did not know what to do next. I explained it was all in hand: a mountain of paperwork had been completed to ensure his safety and protection, he would be accompanied by a staff member the whole time and would only be handed over to his uncle and aunt if they had the ID to prove they were who they said they were.
That said I marched him cheerfully to check in, reached into my bag for my own ID - and discovered I had left my purse at home an hour's drive away. It had been made clear on the documents that no ID for the responsible adult meant no flight for an unaccompanied minor.
I entertained my fellow queuers with a brief spell of hysterics, berating myself with every name under the sun before taking myself and my now tearful son, off to the help desk.
Twas with very little hope that I did so, I know only too well the infuriating Jobsworths who will not bend the rules an nth of a degree no matter how reasonable the case (and I think it would be difficult to fake being someone's mother, if in fact you were an evil kidnapper with a terrified child on your hands)
So I approached the Gorgon at the desk with a heavy heart and threw myself on her mercy. Did I say Gorgon? I meant, of course, living saint. The dear, dear women asked a couple of questions, tapped away at her computer and promptly issued me with a beautiful shiny boarding pass. I wanted to hug her, but didn't wish to cause more security worries so settled for effusive thanks.
As the final act of bad motherhood I had to nick the poor lad's spending money to pay my ransom out of the car park, but he was so relieved not to be defrauded of his treat that he did not seem to mind much (anyway, my brother on receipt of an anguished text from me, met him in Auckland and furnished him with twice the amount).
And so, I waved my baby off in the company of a lovely stewardess, still a tiny bit nervous, but mostly excited. He returned the following evening, of course, very much the urbane and sophisticated traveller, having told his aunty and uncle what procedures and protocol would have to be observed at the airport.
Yes, the first brief hop from the nest, another step towards maturity (clearly on his part only), his own life, and that slight further loosening of the apron strings. It's the way things should be - must be. But still …
The main thing is, he had the time of his life, thanks to a loving family, excellent care from the airline, and most of all, the angel at the help desk. God Bless you, whoever you are.
Crikey. Hope I don't get her into trouble.