A little insight on “those parents”

You know, *those* parents? The ones with the kid on the plane that everyone is annoyed by? Yeah… that would be us last Sunday. It was absolutely us.

Scott has some business to take care of this week back in our old stomping grounds, so we took off on a 2.5 hour flight to DC from Dallas at 8:30 in the morning. I’m not even going to go into detail about how hellacious it was to actually get there, or tell you more than we got there just in time, but our baggage was delayed by a couple hours. No biggie, if that had been the worst of it, I would have been fine. But, of course, it wasn’t.

Unlike my last flight with Kendall, this one was actually terrible. Granted, it was longer, and he’s stronger, but it also seemed like a much more hostile, tense environment. Very judgy. I was edgy from the moment we walked on after we were greeted by a chorus of sighs and groans and eye rolls when they saw my HAPPY child come aboard. We didn’t opt to buy the extra seat for him because, well, we’re cheap like that (even though I did struggle with the safety issue of it). And, honestly, I think the only person who would have benefited from the extra seat would have been Scott because it just would have meant that his lap would have been freed up, not that the noise Kendall was making would have stopped. In fact, had we brought his car seat on board for that extra seat and strapped him in, I’m pretty sure it would have been worse.

Here’s the thing, though, it’s not like Kendall screamed and cried the entire flight. Not at all. Sure, there were a few moments of frustration that came to a boiling point, followed by brief outbursts, but this was certainly not how he behaved even 20% of the flight. I knew it was going to be a long ride when, after only 10 minutes, the frat boy in front of us started huffing and puffing and audibly rolling his eyes every time Kendall would say, “Uh Oh!” and laugh. Sure, he was loud. My kid does not have volume control… or at least I’ve yet to find it, but he wasn’t screaming in this guys ear either. I finally leaned forward and said, “Yeah.. we get it… Uh huh… we gotcha… you’re annoyed.. point made.” He looked shocked that I would even say anything, turned around and said, “Well… it’s not that… it’s just… he keeps waking me up!” To which I replied, “We are doing our very best to keep him quiet,” and not another word or glance was exchanged between us from that point on.  It was going to be too long of a flight to put up with his passive aggressive bull shit, so I’m glad I said something early on. And we were trying very hard.

We had a bag of tricks. It was full of all sorts of new toys and books and snacks galore. Each time Kendall got loud about something, we did our best to distract him. I’d say this worked pretty well for the first hour and a half. Well, what worked the best was the snacks. We just kept feeding him, which of course made the judgy woman to my left give me all sorts of snide looks. Yeah, that’s right. I’m stuffing my kids face to keep him quiet. Judge me. I even gave him two lollipops while on board. Sure, you think I’m that parent that over indulges my child and gives in to his every whim. How wrong you are. The thing is, *I’m* fine with hearing him scream and whine. *I* listen to it ALL DAY LONG. I have no problem telling him NO, but something tells me *now* is not the time to discipline a toddler.

It was exhausting, literally. We busted our asses to keep him entertained and as quiet as possible. And you know what? I am proud of him. I am SO proud of him for the way he behaved. My nearly 18 month old, who is used to tearing around my house and Gymboree and the park from 8:30 to 11 every day, sat on his father’s lap and didn’t even have an all out tantrum.  And if he had, I would totally understand. That’s what was killing me. All these people and their sighs and their eye rolls, they had no idea how GOOD he was being.  And since when does a Sunday morning flight = right to complete silence? It is unreasonable to expect a toddler to be silent or even quiet for two hours, and it’s unreasonable to expect that you will be on a plane with no toddlers.

So, yeah, I guess we were “those parents”, but I really don’t know how we could have avoided it, short of tranquilizing him, which, TRUST ME, the thought crossed my mind many times. We are already dreading the flight back home, and wondering what on earth we can do to make it easier on all of us.

Kendall is 17 and a half months old

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  1. Hey, I appreciate parents who are making an effort to entertain/distract their kids! Should I ever meet y’all on a flight, expect a smile and a wave to the cute little guy.

  2. My brother and his FI are getting married in December in Vegas. I’m so not looking forward to that flight! My SIL booked everybody’s ticket and apparently its been so long since she’s had a baby she thought it was a good idea to book our tickets for a late evening flight. As in, we won’t land in Vegas until almost 2 AM. My DD will be almost 11 mo. at that time. I am hoping that she’ll just pass out early on because I can only imagine the crowd that will be on a flight to Vegas so late at night…

    That being said, sounds like you and Kendall did really well and I’m sorry that everybody on your flight was so unnecessarily judgy. And good luck on the return flight!!!

  3. I don’t have kids, and I’m not going to lie, kids in public annoy me sometimes. But even I understand the difference between a parent that’s doing the best they can and one who’s not. As long as I see a parent actually TRYING to control their kid, I don’t get too upset. It’s the ones who don’t give a damn that bother me. And obviously you do give a damn, so screw ’em.

  4. I don’t have kids and I used to fly A LOT and I mean A LOT.

    My perspective is that the vast majority of people are totally fine with kids flying and the accompanying noise, ruckus, kicks, screams, laughs, squeals and peek-a-boo games.

    What I noticed was that parents would get so wound up about not bothering anybody that the kids would inevitably get more upset – I saw a lady once holding her baby facing down on the seat pushing on his back to keep him still. My heart rate was going up, I was so sad for that baby and the Mom who was obviously reacting to stress in a less than desirable way.

    As travelers we need to remember to smile warmly at parents flying with children and give them support and not add to an already stressful situation. You would have definitely seen me roll my eyes if I was on your flight – I’d be rolling them at anyone annoyed with the children and/or parents!

  5. WAY TO GO, Jill! Love that you told that guy off. What a douche. I’m sure he’ll remember that moment down the road! 🙂 Ellie is only 6 weeks old and we’re flying from Brazil to Chicago in December, but I’m already dreading the same looks and sighs, even though she is already a great sleeper…hoping that it continues!

  6. I hate people like that guy. I had a lady once ask to be moved AS WE WALKED ON BOARD. So they moved her from the window next to my toddler to in front of her empty seat. And then the toddler wanted to sit in her window seat (which is directly behind her new seat) and OF COURSE I SAID YES!

    I always get the extra seat though – that way you have an option of somewhere to put them where you have your arms free to entertain instead of being busy being the restraint. And they generally fall asleep at some point too in it.

    Good luck on the flight home!!! I hope that guy is NOT on the plane. Good for you for speaking up to him!

  7. When ever we are in ‘judging’ situations, I just keep reminding myself that Karma is indeed a bitch.
    I’m wondering if I would have said something to the frat boy. Pre-children, probably not…post-children Definitly!!

  8. People suck! Sorry they were so rude.

    And I get the. “Trust me it could be 100 times worse. Its like people forget that they were once that child too.

    Good luck with the flight home, hoping for an empty seat between you and your husband! Gotta love a little extra space.

  9. On my flight home last week I had a family with two kids behind me and the parents did a great job keeping the kids happy/occupied. The younger one was pretty chatty, but I’ll take that over screaming any day. People need to realize that kids, especially of a certain age, aren’t going to be totally silent 100% of the time. Now if it were the 9:15 pm flight that I was originally scheduled on, I might have been a little annoyed. But then, adult passengers usually annoy me MUCH more than kids.

  10. I agree with kat. My son is the exact same age as Kendall (almost to the day) and I have had to fly with him at least ten times in his short life. I shouldn’t be banned from traveling because I have a baby. And, I don’t have an extra $400 to shell out for a seat that will most likely remain empty if I did buy it.

    In 2009, airplanes are not a luxury mode of transportation. It’s the same as a bus, just in the air. It’s stuffy, it’s cramped, it’s boring, it’s not enjoyable at all. Why everyone’s expecting to be hand fed grapes while sprawled out on a fluffy cloud surrounded by silence is beyond me. Everyone on that flight researched the cheapest ticket they could possibly buy, and I’ve never sat in on a completely silent flight in my entire life. No do I expect to.

    And since when is a baby’s giggle annoying?

    I’m getting kinda snippy here, but my point is that you and your family should be able to travel without feeling guilty. Even if he has a meltdown. It’s not the symphony. It’s public transportation in Coach.

  11. This is my thought: you will most likely never ever see these eye rolling people again. So, relax! Yes, children and babies make noise on planes. I would rather have to hear a child making noise than sit next to a large overweight sweaty guy who takes your arm rest and oozes into your seat (been there!). Children have the same rights to fly as anyone else.

  12. You know, I wouldn’t even worry about it. Like you said, it wasn’t the time to start punishing him just because his volume couldn’t be turned down! And what if you had punished him? Then there would be the people looking at you like you’re an abusive mother and how could you treat your child like that? I say, you can’t please everyone, ESPECIALLY on a plane! We’ve all had those days where we think our kids are being the worst of any kid out there, but to tell you the truth, it’s not true! It may make us feel like other people are thinking we’re bad parents, but who cares? You just stick to being the best mom you can be and say “shove it” to everybody else! 🙂 Hope this helps! Love from Minnesota!

  13. I have a 17 month daughter and at the end of September we had a 4 hour flight to and from Vegas…I have seen “the eye rollers”, believe me! I guess you have to just try and not let them bother you. I bet as dreadful as the flight there felt that the flight back will surprise you – in a good way. Every flight is different (kinda like what they say about pregnancies and babies).

    Good luck and fingers crossed for a nice toddler nap on your next flight.

  14. Ummm I am pretty sure you don’t have to worry about it at all!! They can all go politely SCREW THEMSELVES. I think you did just fine when You told that kid what you did. And if he has a problem with it, maybe he can ring a flight attendant and ask to have his seat MOVED, like out the frickin’ window!!! Jack@$$. His parents are the ones that probably coddled his every command and that is why he was @$$hole enough to even be vocal about his inposition.

  15. The only thing I have to add is pretty much WHO CARES WHAT ANYONE YOU DON’T KNOW THINKS! You know you’re both great parents and you’re doing the best you can, that’s all that matters. Anyone who wants to be rude can TAKE A LEAP! That’s just bad manners, and you shouldn’t give them the time of day. Good for you calling out Mr Huffy, let’s hope he learned something from it, although I seriously doubt it. This is just another example of the unfortunate breakdown of America as a polite society with good manners.

  16. I think that travelling with the kid is the one reason that we don’t see our family more often. We just did it, and having a 2 hour flight, a layover that happened to be in her favorite Aunt’s city where she got entertained and we got food, and then another two hours was actually a good deal.
    God bless whoever invented portable DVD players. They are the only thing that kept her craziness to a minimum.
    But OHHHH. Two rows in front of us was a family that had mom with the two boys in two of the seats and Dad on the other side of the aisle. The younger boy about Kendall’s age was not dealing well with his ears. He was howling. All of us with kids on the flight were trying to help. And this A&@hole in front with his neck pillow and earphones turns around and says to her “I know you’re trying to manage it, but he keeps kicking my seat”. He’s lucky the seatbelt light was fastened and my husband physically restrained me. I’m STILL so mad.
    Anyway-hope the flight home is smooth!!!!

  17. Pingback: "Those Parents" take 2 | BABY RABIES

  18. “As long as I see a parent actually TRYING to control their kid, I don’t get too upset. It’s the ones who don’t give a damn that bother me.”

    Sometimes those parents who “don’t give a damn” have a kid who just doesn’t care where they throw a fit, be it in public or private. I have a niece like that – there are moments where she just screams and carries on.

    Sometimes toddlers and kids are just, well, toddlers and kids who can’t control their own emotions or responses to things, and that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, unfortunately…

  19. You say Scott had business to take care of. What about that required you to drag your spawn on an airplane and deliberately torment people?

    You know how you could have avoided this? DON’T BRING YOUR DARN KID ON A PLANE. Simple, isn’t it?

    It’s unreasonable to expect that people won’t be visibly annoyed by your screeching toddler in a confined space with no exit. It is completely reasonable to hope that parents might have the decency to allow the rest of us some damn peace and quiet in an already stressful environment.

    P.S. Flights cause pain in babies’ ears. So not only did you torment your fellow passenger, you tortured your kid. *Golf clap*

  20. Hrrmmmm… so, let me get this straight Jenna. You are saying that I don’t have the right to bring my kid on a plane? Until when exactly? How long am I supposed to stay off mass transit? Does this rule apply to restaurants, too? Any public place? And, since you feel so freely to discuss with such confidence how I should have behaved in this situation, I’m going to go ahead and assume you have some first hand experience. How old is your child/children? Do tell me how you managed to avoid any and all public situations when they were toddlers. I would LOVE to know.

    I’m so sorry you find a flight so stressful. What about it makes you stressed the most? Is it that pesky security line? The weight of your darn carry ons pulling you down? The insane amount of time it takes to get a free soda? No, really, I’m sorry for you. I really need to think about people like you more.

    I guess just chalk this latest form of torture up as another bad mom moment for me. Gah… I don’t know how I’ll ever live with myself.

    Oh, and if you’re going to cheer for yourself, do it with a foam finger and start a wave, kay? Go big or go home.

  21. Everybodylovesbaby on

    Dude I just got back from a trip with my 3.5 mos old. It was the most embarrassing time of my life. You can read about at everybodylovesbaby.blogspot.com

  22. @Heather:
    Why were you so mad that a man said something about the child kicking his seat? Is it okay or something? I mean, it’s all right that the kid is kicking his seat, because we are all supposed to ‘understand’? It sounds like the man was understanding; he acknowledged Mom’s attempt to manage, but still. He paid money for his seat, too and would probably not like to be assaulted by a toddler’s kicks. Just because someone says something doesn’t automatically make him/her a jerk…maybe he had back issues, wasn’t feeling well, etc.
    And what were you going to do that you had to be physically restrained? Because a man informed the Mom her child was kicking his seat, which he had every right to do.
    More than likely, you would have been reprimanded.

    Keep it Klassy!!

  23. You make your case, then when someone (Jenna) dares to be anything but supportive, you attack with a vengeance.

    I agree completely with Jenna. I noticed you didn’t answer her question: why did your husband’s need to travel for business necessitate your tagging along with your toddler? Did you include the probable inconvenience to other passengers in your decision-making process on whether to go or not?

    As to your question about how long you should avoid normally-quiet public venues such as flights, movie theaters, restaurants, and the like, my answer would be: until you can [mostly] control your child. Toddlers are inherently uncontrollable. There’s your answer.

    I am not one of those who believe that children should be seen and not heard. I don’t mind parents walking their children up and down the aisle incessantly, or happy play noises, or even brief cranky outbursts. But if you know that your child is most probably going to be uncontrollably loud — and you knew; you said yourself that he is normally running around crazy for hours each morning at home — then just don’t take him on the plane. Please.

  24. @r_wolfcastle, to say Jenna was merely “anything but supportive” is an understatement. My response to her was only in keeping with the tone of her comment, not an attack.

    As far as the question, I don’t have to justify my reason to take public transportation with or without my son to anyone. I will say, though, that we went because we had friends to visit in DC. It’s where we moved from a year and a half ago. Whether that’s a good enough reason for you or Jenna or anyone else for me to board an airplane is really not something I’m going to concern myself with.

    For the record, as I stated in my original post, my son did not TORMENT anyone or run around crazy on the plane. Yes, he had a few momentary outbursts that lasted no longer than mere seconds, and my husband and I both immediately responded in an effort to calm him and keep him quiet.

    Again, I would just really love to know if you and Jenna have children of your own. I would really love to hear you FIRST HAND experience.

  25. @wolfcastle and Jenna: i don’t think you can judge a parent for taking a trip with their child. it’s hardly like this was a hike to kilimanjaro. i know many parents who have to do inter continental travel with their children to visit family. it’s not pretty- for them, the child, or the other passengers. but it’s a fact of life, and everyone has to deal with it. so long as the parents are tring to deal with it, as far as they can, i don’t know what else one can expect.it’s called rubbing along together.
    and my seat was kicked by a child for several hours on my last long haul 9 hour flight. if the parents had tried to stop it after i had spoken to them about it, i don’t know what else anyone could do.
    @Jenna: spawn? seriously?
    and for the record, i don’t even have a child.

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