Everything about this trip has been wonderfully smooth. Mom picked us up in the Red Rocket (aka sister’s van) and dropped us off at the curb of the airport where Mike had the porter take away our bags, and with preprinted boarding passes, we just walked to the gate. Somehow I missed the memo on doing it this way before, and somehow we missed any lines. I couldn’t believe how easy it was!
Flight would have been easy too except for a family in the row behind us with nothing short of three toddlers, no discernable toys or parenting skills, and nonexistent naps. This made the last hour or two on the plane a joyride of kicks in the seat back, screeching, bickering, ululating wailing, and high-pitched giggling. Caleb and I dug out earplugs and put them in and Mike put his fingers in his ears while we all considered what to say—and ended up saying nothing.
I remember putting a lot of thought and planning into how to manage our kids when they were little on the plane. I ran them around in the morning, packed bags with special, new, never-seen-before-toys, had tasty low-sugar snacks and kept a Benadyl-laced bottle handy as a last resort. They loved plane flights because of all this extra attention and fun, and read stories, did art, enjoyed Silly Putty and then slept most of the time (Benadryl free.)
Mike and I each had a kid to manage and switched halfway through the flight, and other than the time one of them had an ear infection that was exacerbated by the pressure, we never had anything near the nightmare this family seemed to be enduring (oblivious to inflicting on others.) It was never easy, but it worked.
One of the things I was working on the flight was making a list of potential parenting topics for community talks, and I jotted down, “Traveling Survival Tips for Parents” as an eardrum-shattering shriek made it through the wads of silicone in my ears. Yikes!
It wasn’t just the fact that these folks are disturbing others—for me, as a professional who works with children, it’s the unnecessary stress on everyone. Especially for the kids, who were bored, anxious, tired, and unattended-to, which over time creates big problems.
At what point do you say something to another parent about how they’re handling their children?
In my experience at no point are parenting tips welcome from strangers. They are pretty much viewed with great suspicion from family and friends. The sad truth that I have observed is that there are a LOT of bad, lazy, uninformed parents out there. There are a TON of great books on parenting available and not many people taking the time to read them, let alone to practice any of the strategies.
Had you said anything you would have earned a glare and maybe a snippy comment about not understanding the difficulties of their situation.
I recently spent a vacation with another family and made some vague comments regarding the unbelievable sass their 6 year old was spewing at them, something on the line of “Gee, I really cant take it when my kids talk like that, I nip it in the bud right away.” and the mother turned to me and said (I kid you not) “Well I guess god only gives us what we can handle.” Completely negating all my parenting efforts which have led to my lovely polite (most of the time) kids. I honestly think that a whole lot of people out there think that kids are just going to do what they do and don’t stop to think of the overstimulated/hungry/tired/bored/neglected elements that are the main reason kids turn feral.
What is the answer? I don’t know… but the ear plugs sound like a good plan!
Yeah. I think you’re right. i bought two more pairs for the ride home so we’re all covered!
Bribe the flight attendants to slip something in a ‘complementary beverage’?
It might not even cost you much. 😉
Nice! I like it.
Best/Worst Parenting on the Plane Comment. Two little boys were in the isle. One had a choke hold on the other. A parent piped up in a sing songy voice, “Justin, don’t choke your brother.” Justin continue to do just that with no further parent intervention until a flight attendant appeared with her panzer like cart. It was stop the choking or fall under the wheels of the cart.