For the first time ever on this (marathon) trip to Canada, Camille paid attention to the in-flight safety video shown before take-off. Starting on our Lyon to London flight, she stared at the video screen, riveted.
Oh crap, I thought to myself.
You see, as those close to me know, I have always been deeply distrustful of being stuffed in a metal tube and projected tens of thousands of feet up in the air. A deep-seated fear of flying is something I have struggled with my entire life, and at the moment I feel like I have (almost) conquered it. But as I watch Camille watch the safety video, her eyes getting wider and wider as each different crash scenario is covered, I wonder if I haven’t instead just fobbed it off on my youngest child.
Finally, the video gets to what has always been my personal coup de grace, the “emergency landing on water” scenario (now there’s a euphemism for you). Just after the part about the plastic slides turning into inflatable life rafts and detaching from the fuselage (which is floating nicely on the water in the video – yeah, right) Camille turns to me with eyes like flying saucers.
“I hope that doesn’t happen Mommy,” she whispers.
“Ha Ha! Don’t be silly!” I exclaim, ever so jolly. “Of course that won’t happen sweetie. I’ve flown my whole life and that’s never happened to me. It never happens. “
“It must happen. Otherwise they wouldn’t show it.”
Hmmmm. “Well, because it may happen very, very rarely, but not on the airplanes we travel on. Camille, this is not something that you have to worry about. You can trust Mommy and Daddy. Do you think we’d take you on an airplane if it wasn’t safe?”
Camille just narrowed her eyes at me, plucked the safety card out of the seat pocket it front of her, and began to study it with intense concentration.
Charlotte just takes my word for it when I tell her she doesn’t need to be worried about this thing or that thing, but Camille will have none of it. No. Like me, Camille needs to be sure.
Camille’s lack of confidence in both the airplane and me reminds me of my earliest memories of flying with my Dad. He also had some unresolved issues with flying in his time, but like me, he was bound and determined not to pass them on to his children.
His method was to try and get us excited about the fascinating world of aeronautics – to memorize the details of each type of aircraft out there (and to know never fly on a DC 10, which I still remember to this day is due to that faulty rear engine mounted on the tail), to explain what each sound was: that was the flaps going down, that was the wheels being retracted into the fuselage, that was the steward swearing because he’d spilt hot coffee on his hand…
I think Suzanne just played with her Barbie and largely ignored him, but I listened intently, all the while remaining every bit as suspicious as Camille. If he’s putting this much effort into distracting us, I thought to my little self, then there really must be something to worry about.