Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TRAVEL: Perfect that evil eye. Flying with kids.

A few weeks ago, on the plane(s) home from Denver, I ended up seated pretty close to a few parents with babies and/or young toddlers.

To a lot of people, that is like their worst nightmare.  There were lots of eye rolls and sideways glances.  They're thinking, I just paid $487 to sit next to some brat, obnoxiously crying for three hours and 57 minutes?!  To those people I have to say... invest in some noise canceling headphones.

Trust me, the parent on the plane trying to entertain her kid for three hours and 57 minutes is just as horrified as you are.  Have you ever tried to keep a little one still that long?  Without a healthy dose of Benedryl?  It's hard!  I mean, there are only so many things you can carry in the allotted one carry-on plus one diaper bag.  Think about what it takes to entertain a 12 month old new walker for four hours at home, forget about confined to a seat the size of my elbow.

At home, you have the exersaucer, the baby swing, the cradle for a cat nap.  The entire cupboard of pots and pans for noise making, the family room for exploring and testing out the new walking skills, the toy box filled with things to dump.  Endlessly.  A kitchen stocked with snacks and food, a highchair for eating those snacks and food, and a kitchen sink for an afternoon bath.   A changing table for a smooth and effortless diaper change.  At times, four hours at home with a baby can seem to stretch on for days, but at least you have options.  At least you can pop your baby in the stroller and distract them with a walk around the neighborhood or something.

There are though, the parents that unapologetically let their kid scream it out.  I'll admit, that's kind of rough to witness.  Even for a non-judgemental person like myself.  It's just, when you're in a confined space with a hundred other people who cannot escape, you should really make an effort to corral and hush your kiddo.  It's just common courtesy.  And speaking of common, use some common sense!  If you know your child's crabby time is pretty much at 4:00 every day, don't schedule a 3 pm flight.  In fact, ideally, you should schedule your flight during your child's typical nap time!  Bring a bottle or two, the flight attendants can heat it up for you.  Also, you can request to be seated by an empty seat - which they are generally happy to arrange if the plane isn't full.  An empty seat gives you a few more square inches to utilize in entertaining.

One of the kids that I was seated next to was tough... she cried.  Literally for 3 hours.  She of course fell asleep during the landing.  But, the mom overcompensated.  And the dad did absolutely nothing.  The mom loudly and ineffectively tried everything, it seemed.  I think the thing that pushed most of the understanding people over the edge was that she called her baby (named Tyler) Little Bear, approximately once every four seconds.  It was cute initially, but after 3 hours and 57 minutes of hearing, "Little Bear, do you want my keys?!"  "Little Bear, have a cracker!!" "Little Bear, do you want to read a book/tear up this magazine/look out the window?!!" it definitely got old.  Thankfully I do have a great pair of noise canceling headphones.  And I definitely used them.

But I don't know, you can't get mad at the parent who is doing everything they can to keep their child busy and calm and quiet... because it's not like they're purposefully trying to bother others.  They're in a situation where they have very little control.  You just have to try to be understanding.  You can get mad at the parent who looks away while their kid kicks your seat incessantly for the entire flight.  Or the one who pretends they don't notice their child is tossing crushed crackers at you while simultaneously jumping up and down on their seat, which is attached to your tray,  which causes you to spill an entire glass of coca cola in your lap.  Or the one who doesn't change their kid's dirty diaper, a diaper that was dirtied within the first 15 minutes of the flight.

I don't know why I have been so lucky, but with four kids who have flown several times, I have never had an instance where one of my children were difficult on a flight.  I prepared of course - filled a bag with as many toys, snacks and books as humanly possible.  I had portable DVD players, and stickers and crayons and play do.  Also, for take offs and landings and general bribing, I was armed with lollipops and gum.  

Also, my kids were firmly aware of my evil eye.  Along with packing the right stuff, I think it's every parent's obligation to perfect their evil eye before attempting a lengthy flight.  

What do you think?  Have you ever had a bad/embarassing/annoying airplane-child moment?

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