Hey Dads! by Jason Weening
By Jason Weening
February 13, 2023 – Have you ever flown anywhere with your family? Unless you’re a frequent flyer, flying can be hectic, stressful, expensive and more! Flying with nine kids can be all of those things…times nine. Ever since we got married my patient wife and I have talked about taking our kids on a missions trip to show them how people in different parts of the world live. Hopefully, it will make them appreciate their cushy lives and mostly-stocked fridge. So we’ve decided to take our family to the Dominican Republic for six months to learn, explore, and help some missionaries we know with some projects. Since our giant van doesn’t fly or float very well we decided to take other transportation. Last week we woke up in the middle of the night, drove to Pearson airport and (after many line-ups and much luggage being weighed) hopped on a plane and flew south for a few hours.
In anticipation of potentially losing a few kids along the way we took some pre-emptive measures.
The first pre-emptive measure was to get the whole crew matching bright red hoodies and t-shirts complete with Canada flags on the sleeves. In the event of a little one escaping from the pack we could simply ask someone, “Have you seen a kid running away in a red shirt that looks like us?” What I didn’t anticipate was the many questions from strangers such as, “Are you a school group?” and, “Are you a team or something?” It seems that there aren’t that many families of eleven wandering around Pearson looking lost and all matchy-matchy.
When we went to check our luggage they asked us how many families we were, didn’t wait for an answer, and then attempted to check us in at two different desks. That didn’t work very well since we were, in fact, one family. The slightly intimidated clerk at one of the kiosks took on the challenge. He got into a rhythm processing our supplies, so that half an hour and one bathroom break later we were all checked in…almost. We learned that large hiking backpacks and playpens are oversized baggage, not to be checked in here with regular luggage. Six of us were carrying those large packs, so we all had to wander over to the oversized baggage to check the backpacks. But it was closed. So they sent us a few miles across the airport to another oversized baggage check-in and we were finally on our way. You can imagine the fun we were having, walking at five in the morning with a two-year-old, a four-year-old and a pair of six-year-olds. Which brings us to another pre-emptive measure: buddies.
For a few years now we have teamed each small person with a “buddy” – an older sibling who could assist them along the way. Even when you add up all the arms and eyes between my wife and I, you still only have four of each, so the buddy system allows us to leverage the other eyes and arms in the family. The older buddies came in handy, literally, holding their younger buddy’s hands as we meandered around the airport. The buddy system also works well for passing out snacks, helping through security and not losing passports.
Finally everyone was through security, bags were all checked, seats were sat in and we were off to the sunny south. Our first few days in the DR have been full of new experiences already, and as long as my Visa card doesn’t get denied again, our future will have groceries and new adventures! Time flies! Make every moment count!
Jason Weening will keep you updated on Team Weening’s adventures here in the Springwater News and online at heydads.ca.