Well. It’s like that famous essay of Emily Perl Kingsley (if you’ve never read it), Welcome to Holland. I prepared for everything except for extensive delays or how about this one? Ten minutes after takeoff, smoke was noted in the back of the plane. The plane dumped fuel and turned around. Thankfully all was fine – a fire in one of the ovens – but until everything checked out and the plane refueled, it was 3pm before we took off. Read the story here. Hey, it’s a small country.

So, back to Welcome to Holland. We had packed and prepared for a journey which ultimately was different than what we expected. By the time we pulled in to Newark at 7pm EST, we were all beat, having woken up at about 5:50am to get ourselves ready for a 7am cab to the airport. The snacks were eaten, extra sandwiches were done, and everyone’s nerves, especially mine, were jangly. All those DVD’s and music downloaded to the iPad? Just didn’t work over the long flight. Need a better plan for the way home or maybe tranquilizers – for me, that is. 

Lessons learned? Always ask for extra help. In the airport, we checked in on the business line. Nice. Then, when it was time to board, I went right up to the desk and was ushered in by a side door. Also nice. On the airplane, nothing special in terms of help from flight attendants. But lots of nice people in the aisles who didn’t react too badly to Akiva touching their heads and saying hello as he marched by to the bathroom – and he went many times. With success I might add. When we staggered into the arrivals area in Newark, someone brought us up to the front without even asking. I was reminded of coming back from Israel in 1970, the whole family and the customs officer looking over my tired parents – we’d been in Israel for 6 weeks – and saying ‘I imagine you have nothing left to declare.’ Then, my biggest moment came at the taxi stand. There were a lot of people waiting in line. I couldn’t even imagine waiting there with Akiva, who was tired, hungry and just needed to be ‘home.’ I explained to the dispatcher that I was traveling with a child who has special needs and that we’d just come off of a long international flight. And you know what? He put us on in the next cab.

Akiva is so pleased this morning, as he sat up in bed at 4am going over all the high points of the past 24 hours – taxi, airport, airplane, food on the airplane, etc.

Today, we’ve planned a happy day for him. Pizza with our dear friend and his, Erzsi, a trip on the subway and dinner with good buddies Bunky and Elisabeth. All is good.

By Beth Steinberg, Shutaf Co-Founder
November 2011