My Airplane

The other day we had a childcare emergency—nothing huge in the grand scheme of things, but enough to disrupt our regular schedule. I happened to be working at Indy Hall that day, so there was a bit of frantic communication from me to the nanny to Al to me via phone and text. In the process, a couple wires got crossed, and I ended up leaving Indy Hall for home when backup childcare had already been arranged, and... yadda yadda yadda, you don't really need to know the rest.

I can't remember whether it was that night or the night before the emergency that Al and I watched the 60 Minutes interview with the pilot of the USAir flight that landed in the Hudson, but one of the things that struck both of us from that interview was the procedural shorthand that the pilots adopted when trying to figure out what to do in the space of about 3 minutes—in particular the command MY AIRPLANE, followed by the response YOUR AIRPLANE. We decided to try to adopt this shorthand for dealing with childcare crises.

We got our first test of the new system yesterday, when the Beaner said he was feeling like he had to throw up right around the time he should have been leaving for school... and about 30 minutes before I had to leave for a desperately-needed massage appointment. Al said MY AIRPLANE, I acknowledged with YOUR AIRPLANE, and I left for my appointment. (OK, I admit, I verified one more time before leaving, "is it really your airplane?")

Unfortunately, it didn't quite go as planned. I won't go into all the details, but the short version is that I ended up on the hook for 6 hours of childcare while trying to attend several meetings *and* get work done for those meetings in between, there was some frantic (and fruitless) searching for a cable remote, and the Beaner interrupted a meeting to complain that the channel I'd finally managed set the cable box to sans remote was not actually showing Sesame Street, as advertised, but a talk show *about* Sesame Street... in Spanish. (I did get my massage, though, so the day wasn't all bad.)

It turns out that MY AIRPLANE cannot be used to mean "I'll handle everything until 11am"; it must mean that the plane is under your command until it is safely down at 6pm. Otherwise decisions made with a view toward making it safely to 11am could end up severely impairing the ability of the person who has to take over at 11am to actually land the plane.

Last night, when the Beaner started running a fever and complaining of nausea again, we decided to keep him home for at least one more day, even if he was fever- and vomit-free this morning. We also decided that we'd have to fly the plane jointly. Both of us stayed home, and we ended up taking turns attending meetings and playing with/feeding/minding the Beaner. There was one scheduling change for each of us that ended up causing a conflict, and the cacophony of two phone meetings and two consecutive kids' programs was actually kind of funny.

Al's gone into the office now, Shawna has arrived to take a feeling-much-better Beaner out to the park, and the house is strangely quiet. I should probably take this time to figure out WTF I'm going to do when it's my turn to say MY AIRPLANE. Well, maybe after this next meeting.

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 3:37 PM on February 12, 2009