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?