Well, we got our girl back Monday night. I had a bit of drama when I picked her up at the airport. The airport is two hours away and her flight was scheduled to land at 7:00 p.m. I left work at 3:30 just to give myself plenty of time and to compensate for traffic. As predicted, I hit quite a bit of traffic but still had plenty of time, so I was fine. I got to the airport at around 6:15 and parked my car in the hourly lot. I then made my way to the ticketing area for AirTran/Southwest. When you are picking up a child flying as an unaccompanied minor, you have to stand in line just as if you are boarding a flight yourself. The line was loooong. I took my place at the end and waited. And waited. Because the ticketing area is for outbound passengers, the display screens only list outgoing flights. So, I pulled out my phone and checked my daughter's flight. Son of a biscuit! The damned plane was landing a full half-hour early.
I continued to inch along in the line, watching the minutes tick by. Before I knew it, it was 6:30. Then 6:31 and so forth. It seemed that nothing was straightforward with the check-in process for any of the people in front of me. Apparently one flight was delayed which was going to cause everyone to miss a connection. People were getting a little surly. I figured maybe I should call someone, but I couldn't figure out who to call. The airport? The airline? I tried calling AirTran and got caught up in auto-attendant hell. Grrr.
Finally, I got to the front of the line. The agent reviewed and then handed me my gate pass and my driver's license, and I sprinted upstairs so that I could stand in line again. I got in the first security line. This line is just for the privilege of showing your ID and boarding pass so that you can then move into the regular security line. By this time I was in a full-blown panic. I waited to hear my name over the loudspeaker or something. "Would the worst mother ever please pick up your child at Gate C22?"
I showed my ID and gate pass to a frowny-faced man and then got in the security line. I tried some yoga breathing as I watched the family in front of me bumbling around as if this was not just their first flight, but possibly their first time out in public. Breathe in, breathe out. Finally, my shoes and purse made it onto the conveyor belt. Almost there! Nope. The chick from the clueless family thought it would be a good idea to bring a full 16-ounce bottle of Sierra Mist through security. Seriously? Is there anyone on the planet who has not heard of the no liquids thing? So they shut down the whole scene until the offending beverage could be extracted and discarded.
Finally, finally, I made it through. I grabbed my shoes and purse and without putting my shoes on, I ran down the concourse. Just be glad you've never seen me run. It is not pretty. Finally, I got to the gate and saw my daughter sitting behind the desk, perched on a stool. A Southwest employee was with her. "I'll take that one," I said, pointing to my child.
"Mommy!" my daughter exclaimed and ran over to give me a hug.
I apologized to the agent who'd had to watch my daughter. I gave her my lame excuse about traffic, long lines, etc but I don't think she was too irritated. She told me that in a few years, I'd better watch out for the boys who are going to come around. "Those eyes!" she said. It is true, my daughter's eyes really are a very beautiful shade of green. I hugged my baby for the first time in ten days. She even held my hand as we walked back up the concourse (something she doesn't usually do now that she is so mature and worldly). She clutched her new American Girl doll, Alana, in her other arm.
We made it home at around 9:15 that evening. I tried to drive straight through, but someone made me stop so that she could poop. The next morning, the story was back to the usual - "why aren't you dressed? did you brush your teeth?" I guess we wouldn't want her any other way, though. She's feisty, aye. My dad said that when she is a teenager, she is welcome to live with him at the beach and work for a summer. P and I figure she'll get a job at Hooters just to piss us off. My dad nodded. "You're probably right," he said. Heaven help us.