My In-Laws were Deported, Mon!

April 15, 2010

I absolutely hate to have to write this, but lately, James has been having trouble in school. It's not a behavioral thing, and it's not a social thing either. Academically he's right on track, and manners? Apparently they're okay, too.

According the Miss Karen, James takes longer than average to process information. In addition to that, he has a hard time with transitions.

Now you know teachers as well as I do, if your kid smells like an open sewer on a hot day, they'll tell you that "he's uniquely fragrent, and a super good kid." If she's loud, they tell you that "she's very social and enthusiastic."

So when James's teacher used words like "longer than average" and "difficulty with transitions" I was like, "Lay it on me Karen. Is my kid a ridiculous pain in the ass?"

She replied with a very firm no, and thankfully, we sealed it with a pinky swear. Karen let me know, that to fully understand the issue, I should probably come to the classroom and watch James go about his day.

So I did. And now I get it.

Let's pretend that the class has three activities on the agenda, like 1) Wear this pineapple shaped hat on your head, 2) Walk to the sink to brush your teeth, and 3) Do the goodbye dance.

James will get so caught up in task number one (Which direction should the pineapple face? What if the pineapple hat flattens my hair? Can I opt for a banana hat instead? Is this paper recycled?), that he'll miss all of activity number two and make it to activity three with just enough time to take the final bow.

And when he's rushed from one activity to the next, he loses the total and complete grasp of where he his. That, my friends, is preceisly the reason why James has gotten five huge goose eggs from bumping into the same book display five times on his way to gym class. His little head is so busy pondering the merits of tape versus glue, that SMACK, Nurse Debbie's calling me at work. Again.

The morning after I observed James, Miss Karen came over to talk about what I'd seen the day before. She said, "Amy, this is just engrained in James. It's the way his brain works. Can you think of any family members who have similar experiences?"

And without hesitation I said, "Miss Karen, get a load of this..."

Sometime back in January, my in-laws took the plunge, and finally booked a vacation to Jamaica for the end of March. They were seriously overdue for some time away, so for the next two months, the greater part of their existance was focused on prepping for Jamaica. My mother-in-law shopped, my father-in-law daydreamed, and they both did their fair share of tanning at the local laundrymat. (Oh snap! I promised my father-in-law that I'd never tell his secret. Sucks to have me in the family, doesn't it?)

Well, the day finally rolled around, and my in-laws headed to the Portland International Jetport in a state of pure, unadulterated giddiness. There was giggling, there was flirting, and oh my word, I think I'll stop right there.

Now before I go any further, you've got to understand that when you fly out of Portland Maine, there's really no such thing as a direct flight. Unless you're headed to JFK or Atlanta, you'll most certainly have a stop or three along the way. My in-laws' flight inteneraty looked like this:

Portland, Maine ---> JFK, New York
JFK, New York ---> Jamaica

Well okay then.

They arrived at their gate, and as is customary, there was a door to the left of the check-in desk, and a door to the right--one flight to Atlanta, the other to JFK. My in-laws waited at the gate for a few minutes until a voice came over the intercom:

Flight 103 to Atlanta is now boarding all passengers. Flight 103 to Atlanta is now boarding.

So my father-in-law turned to my mother-in-law and said, "Well, I guess we have a layover in Atlanta before we get to JFK. Let's get on the plane, Meredith." So they did. They got on the wrong plane, headed to the wrong city.

As they boarded the plane, the flight attendant noticed the size of my mother-in-law's carry-on (too big for the overhead compartment), and let her know that it had to be checked at the gate and stowed under the plane. They checked the bag, walked onto the plane, and found that a very nice couple was sitting in their seats. "Huh, that's funny," my mother-in-law said, "we're both in 12C and 12D. I better get the flight attendant."

The flight attendant checked the tickets against one another and politely informed my in-laws that they should be on the plane to New York, not the plane to Atlanta. Well whoopsie-woo! Is that embarrassing, or what?!

They quickly deplaned and were met with the very disconcerting news that "No, we can not retrieve your carry-on bag, it's already secured in the belly of the plane....Well ma'am, I'm sorry that it has all of your phone chargers and essential medications inside of it, I simply cannot bend the rules...No ma'am, these are FAA regulations."

Oh freaking fart.

Luckily, my in-laws refound their happy place when they were upgraded to first-class on the flight to New York. I mean seriously, who doesn't love a bag of free nuts these days?

They made it to New York without a problem, and continued on to Jamaica without a care in the world. As the plane touched down on the tropical soil they made starry eyes at each other, and oh my word, gross, that's more than enough of that.

They walked off the plane, and made their way to customs hand in hand. When they got to the counter, the customs agent was all, "I need to see your passports, lady and mon." So my father-in-law placed his passport book on the counter, and my mother-in-law put her passport card right next to it.

Now if you're not from a border state, you might not know what a passport card is. It's the size of a credit card, and it's good for crossing into Canada or Mexico by car, or Bermuda on a cruise. That pretty much sums in up.

Earlier in the morning, when my in-laws left their house, Meredith said to herself, "A passport book? That big ol' thing? I don't want to carry that! It doesn't fit in my wallet and I could lose it. I'll just bring this cute, little card. It's so stinkin' convenient." And off she went.

Let me just stop right here and do a little public service announcement: IF YOU'RE GOING TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY, ALWAYS BRING YOUR PASSPORT. EVEN IF IT'S THE SIZE OF A PHONE BOOK.

The customs agent didn't appreciate my mother-in-law's love of convenience or her lack of documentation, so without a second of hesitation she pointed to my father-in-law and said, "You can stay. She must go."

Within five minutes they were both on a plane headed back to New York.


Fun Fact: There's not charge for deportation. Yay!

The next twenty-four hours were filled with all kinds of drama. Jared and I were charged with the task of getting a passport from middle-of-nowhere Maine to--wait for it--Jamaica, New York by the time their flight was scheduled to leave the following morning.

Fifteen phone calls and $400 later the passport was on a flight of its own, and Thanks Be to FedEx, it made to the hotel with plenty of time to spare.

Well phew. I sure was glad that was over.

And then, a few days later, I got a Facebook message. It was from Meredith and the subject line read SOS. Here's an excerpt from the message:

Another SOS. Dad hasn't slept in two nights, literally. He needs his leg medication that's in the lost carry-on bag. If any of you can help it would be greatly appreciated...[blah, blah, blah]...Anyone who finds the bag gets a large cash reward. We'll make it worth your time!

You know what that message really means, don't you? My father-in-law's restless leg syndrome was flaring up to the point that he was jerkily (and involuntarily) kicking his wife all night long.

I still snort every time I think about it.

Never being one to ignore the offer of a large cash reward, I called Delta and had their bags pinned down within thirty minutes--one bag was in San Antonio, and the other two were in Portland. All three would be on the next flight to Jamaica. Mission accomplished.

I'm happy to say that my in-laws had the time of their lives in Jamaica and made it back to Maine without any major mix-ups. See?

Two days after they arrived back home, my in-laws decided to take a short Sunday stroll on the very well marked trail behind their house. They got lost in the woods for more than two hours.

When I finished relaying the story of James's teacher, she sat silently, starting at me for a good second or two. "Well, I guess this is just a part of who James is," she said. "It sounds like he gets it from his father's side of the family."

Miss Karen, I couldn't agree more. Do they have special schools for this kind of thing?


Java Joggers said...

OMG -- that is so funny! Your post literally made my day :)

Team O'Connor said...

Wow, you've got a lot on your hands. I used to travel a lot and would periodically see people being turned away for not having proper documentation and always wondered what happened to them. Mystery solved! Thank you.

Grandma said...

Well Amy, if you don't see nice leftovers or Tupperware from Meredith know why.

Amy said...

She told me I could write it!

Bahston Beans said...

HA HA! I love it because they're so sweet and nice. They're probably the only people ever to not flip out when deported!

Pam F. said...

Hmmm... I wonder what my husband would have done in your FIL's situation. "You can stay. She must go." I can just see Hubby waving at me over his shoulder as he runs through the turnstile..."See ya in a week, babe!"

Megan and Sean said...

Oh, the snot and tears......I'm laughing so hard. AH, thanks! I love that story!

Anonymous said...

Oh My Goodness! I am laughing out loud. At least it comes from your husband's side. ;-)


Krista said...

LOL! Thank goodness that you have Maggie to take care of you when you get old!

Karen said...

When my daughter took her first trip to the Dominican Republic, she didn't know that her bags would be transferred automatically at her layover in Miami. So she went down to the baggage claim in Miami and waited so long for her bags that she missed her flight to the DR. She had to stay in a hotel in Miami without her bags, which were merrily on their way to the DR, and she got a flight the next day, where she found they'd given away her room.

Morgan -Ing said...

HAHAHAHAHAH! Poor James. He's doomed!

Michemily said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. I cried once because they took away my plant at customs. Ha ha.

X-Country2 said...

Team Lawson FTW! Hopefully that "large cash reward" was all it was promised to be.

Chelsea said...

So funny!! I'm with Jared for you to blog more :).

Mary said...

Sarah (my oldest daughter) smuggled a baby tortoise through customs on her return flight from her mission in Venezuela. She told us, "They asked if I'd been on a farm or if I had any fruit, but they didn't ask if I had a tortoise in my pocket." Those sweet Sister Missionaries!!

I think what James has is similar to what I call the "Old Sailor Syndrome", based on a poem by AA Milne. One thought leads to another and to another until you forget what the original task was. I get that way sometimes.

Anonymous said...


Wild Banks' said...

The story of your inlaws is utterly hilarious. As for James- the kiddo reminds me of my 4 year old. Details and transitions are tough on him too. We thought he was OCD until we learned more about Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Explained SO much (yes hereditary) and made helping him function more normally so much easier.

Rochelle said...

I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. You're family is awesome! Makes my crazy family of 9+ look half-way normal! :D

Chelsie Towns said...

OMG I seriously just died laughing. I love the picture!