If you have never had the *pleasure* of flying with young children, count your lucky stars. Being trapped in a small space with nowhere to go should a meltdown or fill-in-the-blank emergency occur, strikes fear in those of us who fly with kids. I’ve flown a lot with kids. I consider myself lucky that I have yet to have an, “I am never doing this again” moment. Almost every flight I have been on, I have sat by helpful, understanding people, and my kids have been rockstars. However, on one flight this summer, a real jerk sat in front of my family. I like to think he learned a lesson in tolerance that day.
If you are lucky enough to fly without kids, read this.
Let’s set the scene. My son was two and a half years old and my daughter was not quite 6 months. We were flying from Minneapolis to Nashville—an easy two hour flight. Seats were assigned. I was on one side of the aisle with Anna and my husband on the other side with James. Justin helped James get headphones on and a movie started while I gave Anna a bottle. A 30-something year old man walked down the plane. The moment he realized he was sitting in front of us, he looked me dead in the eyes, rolled his eyes, and gave out the biggest sigh.
I called him out, immediately and without hesitation.
I said to him, “I saw you roll your eyes. My kids have flown multiple times, and we’ve never had any issues.” He ignored me and put on his headphones. I knew if my kids made one peep the entire flight, he would feel justified in his reaction and would continue to act like that in the future. My husband told me to drop it and ignore him. But that wasn’t going to happen. I was hoping the kids would stay quiet.
James and Anna were picture perfect flyers that afternoon. Anna slept and James played games and watched shows. When the wheels hit the runway, I was ready to make sure this guy would never make another mom feel like crap for simply having kids in public ever again. My husband gave me one last look that silently pled for me to keep my mouth shut. I ignored it. When the bell dinged, telling us it was time to stand up, the man turned around and actually apologized.
He mumbled, “I regret that I felt the need to roll my eyes. I’m sorry.”
I thanked him for his apology and told him that flying with kids is really hard, not fun, and really stressful. Strangers being rude for no reason at all simply beyond the fact that a child exists makes it worse. I told him I hoped he would not ever do that again to a mom in any situation because so many women would just sink down and never say anything. He was beat red and apologized again, telling me that my kids were excellent flyers. He quickly got off the plane.
NEVER apologize for having children.
Parents, especially moms, are constantly judged. Now we can’t even fly on a plane without someone rolling their eyes at us? Even if one of my kids had screamed the entire flight, I wouldn’t have apologized. You know what babies do? They cry. You know what two and three year olds are really good at? Acting out at inconvenient times. Seriously, sometimes they are just ticking time bombs.
Young children are learning how to function in society. This doesn’t happen without incidents that make parents want to die from embarrassment or crawl into a hole and never come out. I haven’t had a horrible flight (yet), but I have abandoned my shopping cart in Target and carried my screaming, flailing toddler under my arm like a football to the car. In times like that, whether in a store or trapped on a plane, focus on the child. Ignore the stares or comments, and get through it. Children have beautiful, wild, and carefree souls. They need to test boundaries, make mistakes, and learn how to be civilized human beings. This, my friends, is why we have wine at the end of a long day.
If you don’t want to be around children while traveling, drive a car. ALONE.
You know what you can do if a baby next to you on a plane starts screaming? Put on headphones and order a drink. While you’re at it, order one for the parent too. Because I guarantee they momentarily want to die. However bad you think it is for you, it is 10,000 times worse for the parent. Say a silent thank you that you only have to endure the crying or seat kicking for the duration of the flight. Mom and dad are the ones who get to go home with the child—not you. Put your big adult pants on, cut that parent some slack, and act like it doesn’t bother you.
Has your child ever melted down on a plane? Have you ever encountered a rude stranger on a plane? Or better yet, an amazing and helpful stranger?