Whenever I see a person with a baby on an airplane, I never think, oh great, a crying baby for the next eight hours. I just start to feel heart palpitations at the thought that it could one day be me. And even then I’m not thinking about a crying baby. I’m thinking about having to walk up and down the aisle for eight hours. I’m thinking about having to hold s/he on my lap for eight hours. I’m thinking about how in the heck I would keep somebody entertained for so long. I’m thinking about me and only me, which is how it usually goes because I’m still very selfish.
This article about traveling with a small child makes you think the world is against you when you fly with a kid. I didn’t realize people were filled with such anger about children on planes. According to parents and the previously mentioned article, fellow passengers are known to roll their eyes, sigh heavily, and even vocalize their dismay the minute you set foot on an airplane with a child in tow.
There are more irritating things about air travel than a kid. Like when the bonehead in front of you puts his extra large roller suitcase in the overhead bin and refuses to accept that it won’t fit. Or like when the person behind you holds onto the top of your seat every time they get up and when they let go, you spring forward like a slingshot. I could go on because there are hundreds of annoying things people do every day in the air and on the ground.
There is only so much you can do for kids. Even I know that. Sure, it seems to be easier these days with kids club programs (online resources with downloadable and printer-friendly activity sheets to keep children entertained) and the invention of the trunki (I knew this was a winner when I saw it on Dragons’ Den. Move aside, Theo Paphitis). Not to mention iPhones, iPads, and even the personal television systems on airplanes. I remember being on a plane when I was a kid and the only movie they showed on the screen at the front of the plane was “Fletch Lives” and the only thing I remember from it is a shower scene with Chevy Chase. This is what I will tell any future children of mine when they complain about life. Forget walking to school in the snow. I win.
When we traveled as kids, we were allowed to take anything we wanted to keep ourselves occupied. The only rule was “you bring it, you carry it”. After the first leg of our flight to Korea, I found myself regretting bringing all the Lego pieces, coloring books, cassette tapes, and Barbie dolls as we walked up and down the halls of the airport in Detroit. I became a savvier flyer after that, let me tell you, but I still got bored. The airplane food still tasted weird. I still grossed out my fellow passengers when I vomited after drinking too much Pawberry Punch. (God, that stuff was good. Does Delta still serve it?)
So if I feel the pressure of keeping a kid entertained and/or smiling and/or sleeping without even having a kid of my own, how must those real parents feel? I try to keep that in mind when I fly.
You could also just think about the clip from Family Guy where a father is trying to placate his crying baby. A flight attendant announces that the film on today’s flight will be “Hancock”. The father bursts into uncontrollable tears, out-crying the baby. Grown ups–even if they have a legit reason like a Will Smith superhero train wreck of a movie–always turn out to be way worse than children, so save your eye rolls and heavy sighs for them.