Monday, December 27, 2010

A decade of parenting!

It's hard to believe, but our oldest child turned 10 today (double digits!). December 28th, 2000 marks our foray into parenting, its seems like both a lifetime and a minute ago; I can still feeling Maddy kicking in my belly, yet it feels like she's been with us forever. When we brought Maddy home with us, neither my husband nor I had a clue what to do with her. Like others before us, we gradually figured things out, as it turns out, you can read a lot of books, but nothing fully prepares you for parenting like actually having a baby! We've both learned a lot along the way, three kids later, and I'd say we're still learning!

If you had asked me ten years ago what type of parent I'd be, I'm sure the mother I thought I'd be is far removed from the mother I've become. I'm not nearly as patient as I thought I'd be (that plan was scrapped after #2 came along), similarly, my plan for a TV-free childhood went off the rails around the same time (hmmm, coincidence? I think not!). Despite my shortcomings as a mother (we all have shortcomings, admit it!), I'd like to think I'm doing a pretty good job. I don't have particularly high aspirations for our children once they become adults, I just hope they turn out to be happy, well adjusted people who are kind to each other, and kind to others.

I hope our kids look back at their childhood with fondness, I often wonder what they'll remember. If I have any regrets, it's that we haven't taken enough pictures or captured enough moments on video. Like my own mother, I'm not a terribly sentimental person, I'm often too busy enjoying a moment to interrupt it by posing everyone for a picture. I'm trying to be more diligent about taking pictures, developing them, and organizing them into albums, not only for their benefit, but for my own. As they get older, I can feel time slipping away faster and faster, and it makes me a little sad. I'm always cognizant of the fact that one day, my babies will leave the nest, and it fills me with a bit of dread.

As per Maddy's birthday request, we spent a couple of hours at Bayshore mall this morning, where she finally realized her lifelong dream of buying an outfit at AĆ©ropostale. All I bought her was a t-shirt and pair of jogging pants, but judging from her cheek-to-cheek grin, you'd have thought I'd just bought her a prom dress. Standing in that store, bustling with other girls and their moms, I realized I've crossed over into a new phase of parenting. My little girl is growing up. She's a good kid, if her current disposition is any indicator, she's going to turn out to be a good person. My only hope for the next ten years is that they slow down!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yeah, so about that Paris thing...

It's a long, ultimately boring story, but I didn't make it to Paris. In what can only be described as a big, massive fail by Air Canada, my intended four days in Paris became a 24 hour trip to Heathrow airport and back, complete with little food and drink, and virtually no sleep.

I was originally supposed to fly Ottawa-Montreal-Paris. When we boarded the plane in Ottawa, it became apparent the plane's door would not close, we sat on the plane for 45 minutes (we were told they were getting booking agents to the gate to handle us when we got off the plane), got off only to be greeted by no one. At this point, I knew I had already missed my connecting flight to Paris, I made my way up to the booking desk and was told to collect my luggage first before they could help me. It took a half hour to get my bag back, I went upstairs to get sorted out, an hour later it was my turn to speak with the booking agent who informed me I was flying to Heathrow, where I would catch a British Airways flight to Paris. I knew there was a weather situation in the UK, and I specifically asked if there were delays at Heathrow airport, and she told me "There are no problems." Ha. Ha. Ha. Good one.

I made it to Heathrow airport (no meal, as I might add, can't get a vegetarian meal with less than 24 hours notice!), as we were landing, I saw the light skiffing of snow, and figured everything must be running smoothly (little did I know a light skiffing of snow in London, England is apparently a very big deal). As I made my way by bus from Terminal three to Terminal five, I noticed mountains of luggage covered by plastic tarps. It struck me as odd, by the haphazard way everything was stored, I assumed it was unclaimed luggage. In hindsight, I realize it was just the airport's way of dealing with massive (massive!) delays causing a huge backlog of luggage piling up at the airport.

Once I got to Terminal five, I got to the right gate pretty quickly, only to be denied entry because my flight had been cancelled. At this point, I was told British Airways had been cancelling flights within Europe for the past two days. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck. I was directed into a big line and told to rebook. While I was in that line, a British Airways employee came by with a clipboard and suggested that since I'm not British, it would be faster to declare myself at immigration and make my way back to departures to rebook my flight to Paris. So I do that, get upstairs, and holy shit, I have never seen such a mass of people in my life. I got into line, a British Airways employee was waiting at the end of the line to let everyone know "You are more than welcome to get in line, but just so you know, you will likely never make it to the front of this line before our desks close tonight." (this was at about 11am). I explain my situation, that I'm not supposed to be there, Air Canada rebooked me onto a British Airways flight, should I stay, or do I need to deal with Air Canada? He told me I'm now a British Airways customer, I have to get in line.

I was in line for over two hours (with no food or drink), I kept repeatedly explaining my situation to British Airways employees (people in blue vests who were walking around the line, not to actually do anything, but to make it appear British Airways was on the case). The last blue vest person I spoke to was actually from the baggage department, she never helps customers, so she took me to a supervisor who then informed me that since Air Canada had rebooked my flight, British Airways could not in fact help me, I had to go back to Terminal three to deal with Air Canada. So I take a train back to Terminal three, make my way to an Air Canada booking desk, and am told "Sorry, you're not an Air Canada customer anymore, you have to go back to British Airways." Faced with the decision to go back to *that* mess (two and a half hours in line got me perhaps 1/5 of the way through the queue, they were still cancelling flights, I was virtually guaranteed a 24+ hour wait in Terminal with no food or water), I rebooked my ticket home so that I was leaving Heathrow to fly directly back to Montreal immediately (the only certain decision I could make in an incredibly uncertain situation!). If I chose to get back in line at Terminal three, there was a very real possibility I would just make it to Paris in time to get back on the flight back to Canada anyhow. I had to haul ass to get on the plane to Montreal, it was already boarding.

I lucked out and managed to snag a meal on the plane back to Montreal, I slept a little bit, and I cried a lot, going away for a few days requires an enormous amount of planning and preparation, it was all for naught. When I landed in Montreal, I found out the plane back to Ottawa was delayed. Of course it was. Why wouldn't it be? All in all, it took 26 hours between when I left Ottawa and when I returned. No idea where my luggage is, I imagine it's buried on the runway at Heathrow, by the time I got back last night, flights to Paris from Heathrow were already running again, but given the incredible backlog, I wouln't have gotten out of that airport the same day, and I very much doubt my luggage would either.

I have sent my complaint to Air Canada (they don't have a phone number for customer complaints, imagine that?), I want to be reimbursed somehow for my ticket (60,000 air miles and $400), I should not be out of pocket for their sheer incompetence (had they rebooked my itinerary so that I was still flying Ottawa-Montreal-Paris, I would be in Paris right now, not sulking on my sofa in Stittsville). I held up my end of the bargain, I showed up on time, I did what I was told, and I got screwed.