A Reminder: Don’t Forget What It is Like To Have A Small Child On An Airplane

My son staring out the plane window

He started to scream before the flight even took off.  We were in the same row, but on opposite sides of the aisle.  I figure he was about 2 and a half.  He was sandwiched in between his parents… two people who desperately wished the three of them could somehow disappear.

You know why?

Because their baby was HURTING.  On an airplane.

Also?

Because it took absolutely NO TIME for the stares, the deep sighs and the eye rolling to start.

The LOOKS.  I’m stuck sitting near the screaming baby.

The woman in front of me actually asked to have her seat moved because, LOUD VOICE , “of the screaming baby”.  She turned to the people next to her and said, “and they aren’t doing ANYTHING to stop it”.

Seriously?

As if the parents were doing shots instead of rocking him, trying to play with him, offering him milk and snacks and doing everything they could to alleviate potential pressure in his ears.

Not one to keep quiet in a situation like that, I used an equally loud conversation with my daughter as a teaching moment, “That family is doing everything they can to help that little guy.  We don’t know why he is crying.  Clearly he is unhappy.  His ears might be hurting him very badly.  Yes, he is loud…. But know that no one wants him to be ok more than his mom and dad”.

Hey, Lady in front of me… I’m talking to YOU.

That little boy – I believe she said his name was Christopher, screamed for the better part of a two-plus hour flight….  And I have a little newsflash for the ridiculously behaved people sitting around me:

THERE IS NO ONE ON THAT FLIGHT WHO WANTED THAT LITTLE GUY TO STOP CRYING MORE THAN HIS PARENTS.  NO ONE.

Look… I get it.  Listening to a screaming child or baby for any length of time isn’t a picnic…. In fact, I had a headache just like everyone else….But to turn around and shoot daggers at the family every minute…. How does that help?  You are only succeeding in making a very difficult situation virtually unbearable for that family.

I have a few suspicions…. The adults who were acting out are

  • a)    not parents
  • b)   have forgotten what it was like to be a parent or are disillusiioned enough to believe that their children were perfect (I suspect otherwise having seen the uncharitable behavior of some of their offspring)
  • c)    they have no souls

That little guy cried himself out and feel asleep about 10 minutes before we landed.  That’s when his mom’s tears started.  She simply broke down…. sitting in her seat, red-eyed, softly rubbing the face of that tuckered-out boy.  Even as passengers exited the plane, she stayed in her seat, hand on his back and cried.

At one point she looked at me and mouthed, ‘I’m sorry”.

Not to worry, my friend.  Not to worry.

I patted her arm as I left and told her I’ve been there.

And I mean it.

You snuggle that little guy when you get home and just make sure you make another mom, on another flight feel less alone.

  • amaryllis

    You shouldn’t. But the flight attendant can tell adults to put their shoes back on, or tone it down and most of the time they will comply. Try that with a toddler or baby.

  • amaryllis

    Try first class. It’s what I do and I’ve almost never run into a kid, much less a screaming baby.

  • amaryllis

    Yup.

  • Danielle Smith

    And to this I would add no one should have to fly with anyone who coughs/has a cold, who has had too much to drink, is too loud, has children over the age of 7 who haven’t passed an obedience test, or is rude to a flight attendant, (should I continue with the myriad ways PEOPLE have to be grown-ups and deal with ‘annoyances’ in life and specifically while we fly – or is my sarcasm clear?)

  • amaryllis

    Actually airlines can and have prevented sick people and drunk passengers from flying. They don’t always catch it, but it is a reason for getting tossed off. And just try being rude to a flight attendant these days. You’ll not only get tossed off, but the police will be called and they will help escort you off the plane when you exit. Try it some time!

  • Danielle Smith

    Every single day, the rude, sick and drunk fly. I’m not quite sure how often you fly, but EVERY time I do (which is often) I encounter at least two of the three on my flights. Airlines do not stop passengers with persistent coughs and have no way of knowing if someone has spent the last 48 hours with the stomach flu (or worse), so no…there isn’t a ‘check’ of any kind to PREVENT the sick from flying. And the drunk? You’d have to be excruciatingly belligerent and unruly before being denied your flight – which is why so many flight have people who have been (and continue to be in-flight) over-served. As for the rude? Again, I’m not talking about (As you well know) the threatening or dangerous – I’m talking run-of-the-mill inconsiderate human beings – the type you seem to be equating with people who fly with children. Yes, those people fly every single day.

  • amaryllis

    Yeah, and every day really obnoxious kids fly too. They don’t catch it all at the gate, but the most egregious cases are chucked off the plane. I don’t fly as much as I used to, but I fly first class unless I have an emergency and I can’t get a seat (or the plane doesn’t have first class). Other than those rare occasions, I haven’t flown coach since 1987 when I spent 8 hours from DC to London having some brat kick the back of my seat.

  • Danielle Smith

    You see? Now I’m laughing. You haven’t flown as much since some ‘brat kid kicked the back of your coach seat’….? I’d say those of us who fly regularly with and without children are MUCH better off without the likes of you on our flights as that is arguably one of the most entitled things I’ve heard someone say. I’m going to smile the rest of the night at the very notion that some now 30-something ‘brat kid’ has been saving the rest of us for more than 20 years. (also? your knowledge of who is kept from flying is STELLAR for someone with so little recent – as in 20+years – experience)

  • amaryllis

    I don’t fly as much because of a change in career, not because a kid kicked my seat (which happened on a vacation, not business). I fly first class now because of that, and because coach is just dreadful. BTW, “less” is an average of twice a month, but mostly domestic these days. Good thing about first class is you hardly ever see a kid, much less a toddler or baby.

  • Danielle Smith

    Interesting…when I travel First Class, I’ve seen children, quite often actually – both toddlers and babies…but then again, I don’t panic when I see them…and don’t treat their parents as though they don’t deserve to fly, much less be sharing First Class with me. The very idea that new parents should rob an 80-something year old grandmother of seeing her brand new grandchildren because some people can’t handle that babies occasionally cry – and again – no one wants the crying to stop more than the parents – it is beyond my comprehension. People travel for vacation, to visit far away family and for emergencies – all of which require children to fly. And deservedly so. The good news for those of us with patience and understanding? They can continue to do so. Anyone who doesn’t like it? Can stop flying.

  • amaryllis

    I have no intention of stopping flying, and entitled mommies like you are the reason that airlines are starting to ban kids from certain flights and first class. Granny needs to get on a plane. 80 is the new 60, and she should still be doing half marathons. Baby boomers are a pretty significant customer base who have already done their time in hell (or skipped the whole thing) and don’t want another dose. In case you are wondering there were 76 million baby boomers and 65 million of us are still alive. We don’t want to listen to screaming babies and we have money and market clout. By the time we’re all dead you children will be adults. Surveys show that 70 percent of airline passengers baby boomer or not, would pay extra just to avoid being anywhere near your kids. That’s a pretty big market. Since parents are no longer reasonable we just want you and your kids gone. It’s coming. Baby steps (pun intended).

  • Danielle Smith

    Your comments are increasingly laughable AND entitled, which is both rich and ignorant considering you are the one demanding special treatment. The fact that you refer to parenting a child as ‘time in hell’ says so very much about your character.

    Let’s get a few things straight since you are a) making assumptions about me and b) quoting unnamed surveys. First of all, it has been years since my children were at an age that they would even be considered disruptive – and while they have been flying since they were six weeks old and I never had an experience anywhere near what I described in this post, I encountered MANY people who ASSUMED my children might be difficult on the flight and treated us as such initially – only to comment kindly at the end of the flight. I suspect you are one such type of person – the side eye, the eye-roll, the ever-entitled sigh of a person believing I shouldn’t be allowed to fly with my children in case we disturb the peace.

    Next – to your contentions that (we) parents are no longer reasonable (because we fly with our children?) And this ‘pretty big market’ is taking baby steps towards what? Banning kids? Preventing families from flying? Or just keeping them from the high and mighty like you in First Class? Silly. As of this writing, AirAsia has a ‘no kids’ section and Malaysia airlines does as well – mainly from the top deck of their flights and in First Class. Both of those ‘announcements’ were made in 2012. Two years ago. Additionally, the surveys I see say between 20-33% might be willing to pay more (up to $25) for a ‘quiet section’. Can you point me to the 70%?

    Finally, you make an EXTREMELY large assumption by referring to me as a child (By the time we’re all dead you children will be adults.) which I’m clearly not – nor have I been for quite some time….and your statement follows a series of comments about how much money and market clout baby boomers have, and yet – the news is filled with stories about how reluctant Baby Boomers are to retire, how they are struggling financially and will be working longer than the generations before them.

    Unlike you, I won’t pretend to know anything about your current situation beyond what you have put in your comments. From those you strike me as unkind, impatient and intolerant.

    I wrote this post not for me (yet you accuse me of being entitled) but because I AM KIND, because I find it unacceptable to be rude to someone who is hurting or struggling. And unlike you, I don’t think the answer is to tell them to ‘stay home’. I DO think families should be allowed to travel, to go to restaurants, to leave their homes. Sometimes there are alternatives (for a fancy dinner – I hope they can hire a babysitter) but for flying to see family, for taking a family vacation – air travel is the main option.

    But back to one of my initial statements – you referred to raising children as ‘done their time in hell’. Every day I’m surprised by people. Usually that is a good thing. Not this time.

    Baby steps.

  • amaryllis

    Your children, not you. Anyone who’s disruptive should not be allowed to fly, be in a restaurant, or even in a Target. Bratty children shouldn’t be anywhere that doesn’t have a playground attached. If you hang out in Chuck E Cheese, I don’t care how your kids behave. I’m not going there.

    Look the surveys up yourself. There are many. When passengers are asked about quiet sections of any variety the majority say they’d pay more to be in them. HOWEVER, when families are asked if they would like to have “family sections” even if there is no extra fee, very few want one because they don’t want to sit to someone else’s brat. That’s just too funny. They want to pollute the world with their brats, but they don’t want to have to deal with others.

    When I was a kid there was no such thing as a childfree restaurant because parents knew better than to bring their children to fancy places. I got on a plane for the first time at 7, and there were many lessons before that time. If I couldn’t be relied on to behave my parents would have waited until I was 12 or 15 or 20, but they would never have allowed me to act up in a public place. And that’s pretty much how it was for all children because the public wouldn’t stand for it and business owners would kick you out. Now the only clout business owners have is to keep you out to start with. Civilization is going down the rabbit hole and you’re one of the leaders.

  • Danielle Smith

    Good heavens, you are a sad, bitter soul, now aren’t you? The world is just full of these wretched, awful, bratty children and their horrible parents just DYING to pollute your world.

    I wonder what has made you so ill-tempered and vitriolic.

    You actually just pulled the, ‘when I was a kid’ card. Just for fun, I’ll play along: I flew for the first time before I was a year old….to the Philippines. And that was far more than 40 years ago…. long before any of this was a debate. And for the record? It was in first-class. No complaints. Why do I know this? It’s a story my parents have always loved to tell. So the ‘back-in-the-day’ business is empty to me. Maybe my parents had more faith in me?

    As for telling me to look up the surveys? This is the best part. I DID. I think it is important to have all the information. And your stats? Couldn’t find them anywhere. Which is why I ASKED, rather than simply saying it sounded ridiculous. However…now that you are aimlessly quoting more baseless stats, I DID find information that said EVEN some families DID support the notion of family sections. Again? Your argument makes no sense to me.

    There will ALWAYS be (and always have been) more and less diligent parents and better and worse behaved children. It’s cyclical.

    Either way, your attitude is both extreme and quite sad. I hope you don’t go out very often

  • amaryllis

    Sorry to tell you I go out every day. And because I just bought a new property I’ve been flying once a week this summer while I get it renovated. I eat out every meal except for breakfast during the week. Pricing yourself out of children works for the most part.

    I generally fly in the mornings so I can get a full day at my destination. I don’t see children in the first class lounge, much less on my particular flight. For the most part I don’t have to deal with children, they are rarely on my plane, my hotel room corridor, my restaurant, and never in earshot of my condo, coop, or house. But I do feel sorry for people who can’t afford to price themselves out. ALL people should be able to have piece and quiet.

    You are right about one thing though. SOME families do want family sections on flights so that they don’t have to deal with the stares and complaints when little Johnny runs up and down the plane throwing toys and screaming, or dropping cookie crumbs on the poor passenger in the seat in front of his. The only thing I wonder is why children don’t get thrown off planes more often than they do now.

    And I don’t know why you can’t find this. It’s the number one return on a Google search on the subject.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2621402/Babies-planes-70-cent-Britons-want-child-free-zones-aircraft.html