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Listen up, idiot in seat 24D. Kids don't come with volume controls.

chld crying on airplane

Vivian Manning-Schaffel: We were flying home from Florida the other day and man, we thought we had it right. For her first time flying out to see her grandparents, our youngest flew like a champ. I, thinking I was slick, offered to take the seat next to our 2-year-old on the ride home, thinking she'd pass right out (as she has the propensity to do in any other moving vehicle) around her naptime like clockwork. And I'd score two nonstop, luxurious hours to peruse a book that wasn't crafted out of cardboard.

So we taxi. I hand her a sippy cup to prevent ear-popping and we take off smoothly. Her eyes begin to droop, and I mentally pat myself on the back. Score! But once we get to our target altitude, the kid loses her everloving mind.

Girlfriend is wailing. And I mean WAILING. I ask if it's her ears a few times, and each time she nods "no," without so much as pausing to breathe.

I read every Elmo board book I have. I put on "Dora" and stick headphones on her. No dice. She's overtired and passing her "nap window," and it's anyone's guess when she'll decide to settle.

The nice man sitting behind me goes to fetch some snacks. No animal cracker, Terra Blue chip, or Cheddar Bunny will silence her. It is abundantly clear to anyone witnessing this display that I am pulling out all the stops to soothe her. And after a mere five minutes of this tirade, do you know what the 60-year-old gentleman across the aisle says to me?

"Do you think you can do something about her? She's really annoying."

Turns out the nice young man burdened with sitting in our row had a 1-year-old of his own. So he let the jackass have it. "She's a BABY. C'mon!"

I pipe in. "You were two once, too. And I'm sure you cried like this on occasion."

"Hippos Go Berserk" does the trick for about a full minute, but as soon as it's done, she resumes her hysteria. I hold her. I rock her. We walk the aisles. And as soon as we sit back down, she flips a switch and it's back-into-banshee-dom. And short of pulling a muzzle out of my ass (admirable trickery, but sadly there is none), there's nothing I can do.

To add to my misery, I overhear the jackass lady sitting one row in front of the first jackass ask the flight attendant if there is "anything she could do" about my kid!

I wanted to say this at the time, but I was obviously busy, so I'm saying it now:

"Lady (I mean, raging idiot), no one on earth longs for her silence more than I. But if kids came with volume controls, the need for pacifiers, earplugs, whiskey, and Xanax would be virtually obsolete. So unless you are prepared to offer me one or more of the aforementioned solutions, do us all a favor and shut the f*** up."

And if it's not blatantly obvious, I'm being facetious. Sort of.

My husband eventually pulls out what we call the "big guns" -- his iPod. An hour and a half after take-off, with a mere half hour left of the flight, she passes out to the soundtrack of "Yo Gabba Gabba." Ah! The solution. Who knew?

I'm sure you've been the parent of "that screaming kid" at one point or another. Short of slipping her a mickey, what's a parent to do? Do you have a trick to share that works in times like these?



next: Babies Just Love Drinking Hair Dye, Right?
39 comments so far | Post a comment now
tennmom October 26, 2009, 8:03 PM

How many times does a situation come up where it is an absolutely necessary for both parents to fly with a child too young to handle the flight?
Air mattresses, sofa beds & floor pallets are good alternatives for hotels for visiting guests.
Adults who act up on planes are now subject to arrest, yet people get irrate when someone dares to complain about a child’s behavior.
I never claimed my children to be perfect. If life arranged itself to suit me, I wouldn’t have been widowed when my children were 3 and 5, so don’t even go there with me.

Lilli October 26, 2009, 9:10 PM

I completely agree with Christina’s comment.

Maybe Tennmom and Jen were the jerks sitting in the rows you mentioned. I have a 19 month old who is usually great. She has not had a long melt down anywhere yet but she is a child and anyone with children should understand that crying is not something we can really control. I agree that kicking, or other unruly behavior should be corrected but when it’s obvious that she was trying to calm her child why would people be jerks? Yes they have a right to be annoyed but do they really need to voice it? They’re the adults who can control their actions.

What really gets me is that this blogger/mother is sharing a hard situation and asking for advice and people find it their job to be smug and rude. Yes you have a right to express your opinion but what are you accomplishing other than pissing off most parents? If you really think parents (not just her) should not fly with kids as to not bother other passengers why not offer *ADVICE* instead of criticism. When life hands you a hard situation I hope others have the same compassion for you that you’re showing her.

Katie October 26, 2009, 9:17 PM

tennmom,
Some of my greatest experiences have been traveling with my small child and seeing the world and new places through his eyes. There is nothing like the thrill of being on an airplane (with a happy kid) and having him get so excited you think he’s going to burst when the plane magically takes off. Or watching him point out the mountains as they pass by. That is what life is about. I don’t care if he remembers it or not, it is part of his life and part of our collective family memory.

And contrary to your statement, a terrified crying child is not a “behavior” problem. It is not something you can cure by discipline. It is an emotional response and not something a parent can really “control.” I do agree that kids who act out and are discipline problems should not be on a plane but the author was clearly not describing that kind of situation.

Our remedy for a grumpy scared child is also the iPod with some obscure ABC’s album that puts my son into a stupor. Candy works great too. I’m definitely a sugar momma!

jen October 26, 2009, 11:22 PM

LMAO…yes..I’m a jerk! But, I can guarantee you that I’m the mother with a young child that you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane. I’m extremely aware of other people and my child’s needs. I go out of my way to make sure that my child does not have a hour and half melt-down. I don’t count on that my little one is going to sleep and that I will have 2 hours to enjoy a book or that I am going to have to send the man sitting next to me to fetch snacks. I don’t blame the child, she is doing what a overtired 2 year old does. I BLAME THE PARENT!! That’s right, I said it folks! The parent is to blame!! The child is 2 years old, NOT 2 months. Most melt-downs happen when the child is over-tired or hungry. She took a toddler on a plane during her “nap window” when children are at their fussiest. Obviously, she did not have snacks for her child, if she had to send someone to go fetch them for her. As a parent, you are responsible for your children. If you know that lil Timmy takes a nap between 2-4, then don’t schedule your flight then. Take a morning flight when the child is calm and happy. Don’t expect your going to get on a plane, hand your child a toy and that’s it. Nope, guess what..your going to have engage with your child the whole time i.e. read books, play with lil people, games, songs, anything to entertain your child on a trip. Hey, when you have layovers, why not not take the longer layover. It’s much easier on the child. They can eat, play, and stretch their legs before getting right back on the plane. I don’t discount that my child has a mind of own. On the contrary, I’m aware that she does. Which is why when we travel by plane, the arrangements are centered around her needs like being well-rested, fed and has let off some energy. Seriously, a hour and a half tantrum is unacceptable and the parent is too blame.

Too Busy To Judge Others October 27, 2009, 7:58 AM

The need to vilify others never ceases to amaze me.

Were you there? Did you know there was a TV on the plane? How do you know the kid didn’t have a full meal before getting on the plane?

Did you actually read the part where the author clearly said she was pulling out all the stops, reading to and engaging her child the whole time, desperate to make it stop?

You’ve made a lot of assumptions and seem to have missed a lot of details. Perhaps you should read it again. Because anyone who really read the piece would dare say she wasn’t aware of her child’s needs.

I guess you are one of the few, fortunate souls to be blessed with a child who’s never, ever had a meltdown in public. Lucky you!

Count your blessings, because you never know when you’ll be the one in need of help. It usually happens right after you get done judging someone else.

Sara October 27, 2009, 8:19 AM

Tenmom & Jen have it 100% right!!

As a seasoned mom-traveller I marvel at the fact that this mom didn’t think to bring a protable dvd and waited an hour and a half to try the ipod. Also, NEVER schedule around a nap time (a baby’s moodiest time of the day) and just hope they nap. My mom friends know they need to travel heavy with a child - dvds, music, books, games, etc.

Karen October 27, 2009, 11:56 AM

Kids will be kids. Even a typically well behaved child can have the occasional meltdown, and the world’s most prepared mom can still find herself struggling to appease a two year old in the midst of an unexpected tantrum. Whether you’re on an airplane, in a grocery store, or at home…..these things happen and there isn’t always an obvious solution. Frankly, it saddens me to think electronic gadgets are supposed to be “the key” to keeping kids occupied and/or under control. I’m not sure I can applaud the parenting skills of someone who suggests we shouldn’t leave home without a portable dvd player for our kids.

Beki October 27, 2009, 1:26 PM

Yep, kids will be kids. They’ll scream and cry and pitch a fit. I know. I have one. Have had him on a plane many times. The times when he had fits it was, in fact, MY fault for not getting the flight earlier in the day/not making sure I had juice/etc. If your child is cranky and causing everyone around to be held captive by her noise, that really is your problem. Yes, it’s an annoying and difficult problem and yes, these people who think a kid comes with an off switch are numbskulls, but I get it when they’re grouchy about ear-splitting, non-stop screaming. Especially when it only took an I-POD to calm her down. If you knew that worked, you should have done it pronto, sister, and spared everyone around you the rising blood pressure. If walking the plane kept her calm, you could have kept walking. Hurtling through the clouds in a hollow silver tube isn’t the place to hold back on bribery or cuddling. So, yeah, I’m pretty solidly on both sides here. I’ve been there, done that, and I’d rather never again have to listen to it. Take this as advice and not condemnation, if at all possible.

Pamala October 27, 2009, 3:23 PM

I say lets charge an annoyance fee for those who wear too much perfume or cologne seeing as that seriously annoys me. And an annoyance fee for talking too loud or too much. That annoys me too. Oh and an annoyance free to the person who deems it necessary to go to the bathroom, that annoys me, or decides to go into the overhead compartment, that’s seriously annoying. Or the people who don’t know how to board or deplane. Those people are annoying.

Or an annoyance fee to those who are annoyed and can’t just relax.

It’s an airplane not a freaking luxury hotel. Get over it.

Barb October 28, 2009, 7:11 AM

Karen and Pamala, I could not agree more! Well said.

mom of 2 October 28, 2009, 8:26 PM

Benadryl works wonders. I have two kids 5 and 3. My oldest was very motion sick as a baby and was the only thing I could give her for it. It knocks her out like a light. So I have always kept it on reserve for flights. They are normally calm, quiet and relaxed playing their leapsters but if they start to get fussy or tired I whip it out, give them a dose and no problems. And no I do not use this everyday. Only when we fly.

J October 29, 2009, 8:38 AM

mom of 2 - my pediatrician recommended using benadryll on flights as well. I do and don’t have any issues.

Flying Mama October 29, 2009, 9:48 PM

I heard benadryl works great for some kids and not so great on others. My pediatrician had recommended to have used benadryl at least once before so you know they are going to react to it.

jen October 29, 2009, 9:51 PM

wow…I think I got barred from posting here….hmmmm…I guess if you insult the writers…they ban you… Oh well….no big loss….

mercaties October 29, 2009, 11:02 PM

Fortunately for me I have a husband who LOVES to take cross country drives. So, whe we have to go out of state to see the relatives we drive. I have nothing but sympathy for this woman. There is nothing worse than when you have done everything you can and your toddler just wont cooperate. These parents who act like their children have never had a public melt down are either lying or do not go anywhere. I had to laugh though when she said the annoyed passenger asked the flight attendant if she could do anything.

PB October 31, 2009, 4:58 PM

I feel for the Mom its hard flying with ,and if people don’t want to hear a baby cry then maybe they should drive.
- Pat

You stupid woman I think it’s the other way around. The people with the kids should drive. I’m tired of having to put up with everyone else’s kids. Wish I could fly and there was an option to not be with children. If it wasn’t offensive to some, airlines would give the option. I wish they would.


Lisa January 6, 2010, 12:56 PM

I can’t believe how selfish and narrow-minded some of the posters are. Do you really think it’s OK for someone living hundreds of miles away (or overseas, like I do, where driving isn’t an option) to wait 5-7 years before more than 1 or 2 family members get to meet their child? Or would you have me pay to fly 20 of my friends and family members overseas and house them in my 2-bedroom flat to save yourself a few hours of annoyance? Also, it is practically impossible to schedule all of your flying during a given window without paying first-class prices.

My son is usually an angel on flights, but he has his moments and I have nothing but sympathy for those in a difficult situation.

ThoughtsofTHATmom July 27, 2010, 11:52 AM

Wow! Such hatefulness from some moms!

I think it’s sad that so many moms here think that drugs and electronic toys are the only way to calm a child. Is this your solution all the time? How much TV does your child watch? How many hours a day/week do they play video games? Do you frequently drug them to avoid annoying other people (such as at the grocery store or in other public places)? Is this really how you define parenting? I just don’t get it!

I understand that those can be tools used in the proper time or place. I, personally, find it deplorable that a parent would think it’s okay to drug their child to keep other people happy. Really? EVERY drug (even Tylenol and Benadryl) has side-effects on the body. They also affect some children differently than others. What works for one child make make another child hyper…or worse.

There are some families who don’t watch TV and don’t play video games. Are these parents also horrible parents because they didn’t choose to numb their child with modern electronics?

Sometimes young children will cry when pressure changes in a cabin. They’re feeling things that they can’t express. (Especially under 3.) It may cause ear pain or pressure, they may not hear very well, they may get a headache, their stomach may hurt, &/or they may feel nauseous.

As an adult, you can better know how to handle these symptoms. For a kid…it’s just overwhelming. If a child feels really bad, even drugs and electronics that normally work may not work. Compassion is an amazing thing that goes a LONG way. We all need it; even you.

Anonymouse July 27, 2010, 9:33 PM

It may not be a luxury hotel, but it certainly isn’t the sort of situation where you can just get up and leave. I am rather tired of people saying if you’re unwilling to deal with someone elses kid screaming you aren’t compassionate. Being on a plane is stressful for everyone, and a crying child makes it worse. But some parents need to understand that the rights of them and their children don’t come before the rights of everyone else. Yes when you are a parent you can relate more to the person, but not everyone on the plane is going to be a parent and traveling is stressful. No one is blaming the child but you are going to get stares from people who are thinking “Can’t this person control her child”. I mean an hour and a half of screaming, that is ridiculous and no one should have to put up with it because your special little girl just had to express herself. Next time bring the grandparents up or come up with a better plan. Don’t blame other passengers for their unwillingness to bend over backwards for you and your child.


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