Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tykes on a Plane

With all the news about America’s Newest Hero, the guy that finally had enough abuse from airline passengers that upon landing, he commandeered the plane’s PA, told everyone to fuck off, grabbed two beers and pulled the escape chute and dashed off onto the tarmac to make his escape.

His story, though not directly related, reminded me of a post I did about the bane of my aviating existence: little kids.

I wrote a thing about it on my old site a couple of years ago and have been tempted to revive it here a number of times.  The last time I was thinking about it, Ginny from That’s Church went and did a post about how tough it was for her to fly with her young kids, and how much she appreciated the kindness and sympathy of strangers to help her through the ordeal.

So I thought I’d better sit on it a bit longer.  I mean, I’m generally sympathetic to the parent’s plight in trying to travel with kids.  I know all Mom wants is a quiet flight too. 

But Jesus, I didn’t pay $300 so I could listen to screaming for 2 hours, or get my seatback kicked every 7 seconds, or have some little monkey staring and babbling at me, smearing jelly and crumbs all over my pants, or God forbid, have to get a diaper change from 3’ away while captive in a stuffy plane cabin.  Chances are; I’m either hung over, or about to be.  I need rest.

So I wrote this post right after flying back from somewhere or another and getting my last nerve ground right down to a pulp.
I’m just back from a short vacation, and I’m working on a new Law of Nature:  “The perceived cuteness of a child is proportionate to emotional connection.”  I call it, “Urchin’s Law.”  Consider the chart below:


Perception of Child

Your child
Approaches “deity”

Child of sibling or close relative
Has looks of an angel, wisdom of Buddha

Child of close friend
An angel, with just enough devil to pay back your friend for their prior indiscretions

Child of distant relative
Instrumental in carrying on the family name, not much else

Random child in street or store
Target practice

Child on a plane
The Anti-Christ

This whole thing occurred to me on my plane-ride home on Southwest Airlines.  I was checked in early, with the coveted “A” boarding pass, which allows you to board among the first third of the passengers.  This is important to me, as I strongly desire an aisle seat, which allows me to stretch my legs and trip any prospective terrorists running down the aisle, before pelting him with stale nuts

So I’m in my aisle seat, with some other slob on the window, with the middle open.  Now the stewardess wants to know who will move up so that a woman with her 2 kids can sit together.  At least that’s what I figured out she said later.  I had my headphones on so all I heard was “Whonk whonk whonk,” like it was Charlie Brown’s teacher.

The Window Slob jumps at it, and next thing you know, here comes the lady with her entourage… a little blonde baby boy, a little blonde boy toddler, and a safety seat the size of a Barca-Lounger.  I stand in the aisle for about 20 minutes while a team of experts straps the Barca-Lounger into the window seat.  Mom and the baby, who looks like a quality control reject from the Cabbage Patch Company, sit in the middle.  Finally I can ease back into my aisle seats, and am free to resume defense against running terrorists.

Having determined that the plane is terrorist-free, I pull my hat down over my eyes, turn up the MP3 player, and commence napping.  And for most of the flight, it was fine, save for a lot of bumping and squirming, but I try to remain tolerant… I know it’s a tough gig schlepping a couple of rug rats across the country.

About a half hour from home, the screaming starts and thus begins the Descent Into Hell.  The little one starts and stops, but mostly just screams… the older one keeps up a low moan, punctuated with an occasional shriek.  Each shriek pushes the younger one up an octave.  Here I am, strapped into this speeding metal tube, thirty thousand feet in the air, along side a couple of Howler Monkeys.  Pretty soon I’m tempted to stand up, claim control of the plane in the name of Allah, and maybe bait an Air Marshall into throwing a couple of shots between the eyes… me, the mother, the baby… whomever.  Just make it stop! 

To complete the job of screwing me, the stewardess picks this as the time to ask us to turn off all electronic devices. I took this to be their personal payback for me not listening to their important safety lecture about how to undo a seat belt.  The headphones were the only buffer I had, so now I’m getting the full force effect… a couple of dentist drills in Dolby 5.1 Surround-Sound.  Maybe if I offer to hold one of them, she’ll be too busy with Toddler-Demon that she won’t notice me stuffing Baby-Demon into an overhead bin.  Hey, I’d use the one holding all the pillows… I’m not totally insensitive.  But before I could act, I felt the thump of the wheels touching down, and by the time the reverse-thrusters stopped, the screaming was over.  Maybe this is a new way of ensuring that all flights hit their ETA. 

Now before everyone starts explaining how babies cry because of the change of altitude during descent, let me just say this:  Bullshit!  There was a baby about 10 rows up, and didn’t hear a peep from him.  I’ve also flown with my nephew when he was a baby, and he was practically perfect.  (See chart above.)  That’s why I feel safe in my conclusion that these children were evil, and sent to torment me.  But I’ll get even though… they’ll be sorry when they’re paying for my retirement and early-bird dinners with record FICA deductions.  

Mwaa ha ha haaaa… Revenge is mine  


Miley said...

I'm so glad that your evil plot for revenge is completely contingent upon politicians not screwing you over in the future!
LOVE LOVE LOVE the chart by the way. LOVE IT.

Cher Duncombe said...

This is why Rich and I drive to as many of our destinations as possible. The hassle of kids on a plane is a valid reason not to fly, because parents are run by their kids these days. And---people have no clue about manners. Add to that the airport with flight delays and not enough Hail Marys to go around when the plane starts rockin'. We take turns piloting our car and feel just fine about that. And we get great food at almost any exit we choose. Beat that, airlines!

DG said...

Wow, I totally could have been that mother. One trip, Demon #1 had an ear infection, and no amount of penicillin and/or benadryl and/or tylenol could make his ears stop hurting on take of and landing. I think I heard cheers as I walked him off the plane.

Christy said...

LOL! I've never had a pleasant experience on a plane with other people's children. They just shouldn't be allowed on the same plane I'm sitting on.

Jessica R. said...

Best chart ever. That is so incredibly true. I got stuck on a flight back from LONDON with a child who was literally crawling along the tops of the seats and jumping off of them into the back of my seat. WTH mom?! I know it's a 10 hour flight, but crawling on the tops of the seats?! That's what Benadryl is for!

Jennifer Juniper said...

I'm very open in my dislike of other people's children. Mine may not be perfect, but I can beat them.
But to be fair, I do think some childrens' ears are more sensitive than others.

Cassie said...

I will say, I've only traveled with my daughter, once. She was 10 months old and she was an angel both ways back and forth. But my secret? The boob. I nursed her butt the whole damn time, which along with the airplane sounds, knocked her out.

I truly feel bad when you can tell a baby is sick or something and a parent has no control, however, when kids are kicking, spitting, throwing tantrums, not's totally on the parent.

You can best believe that I will NEVER be one of those parents...ever.

bluzdude said...

The chart is really the heart of the story. I formulated it right as I was sitting beside the howler monkeys. Easiest post I ever wrote. I should probably add the chart to my Helpful Stuff page...

I agree to a point. A 4-5 hour drive is about the most I’m willing to do, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

And you’re completely right about so many parents being run by the kids. I used to see that constantly when I worked retail... parents kowtowing to their kids, seeking their approval. That was NOT how I was brought up, that’s for sure.

That might have been the case here, but I don’t know… they were both fine on the takeoff. I think these two were just evil.

But really, I do sympathize with the mothers. I know they desperately wish their little angels would pipe the hell down…

Maybe the airlines should set up a special, heavily soundproofed “kids section”. They can pass out Benedryl for the kids and alcohol for the parents. It’s either that or the cargo hold… They can market it as a special “enhanced safety” section, but we’ll know why it’s really there… to make an “enhanced sanity” section out of the rest of the plane.

Yeah, your case is not a child with an ear problem, that’s a parent that has never been willing or able to control her kid, nor has enough awareness that Stillwell Angel might be bugging the crap out of other people. I’m usually pretty chill about such things, I rarely say anything in public to parents of unruly children (even as they were destroying my store while mommy browses) but I’d have to say something about that… if not directly, then to the flight attendant.

Oh how I miss the days when you could beat other people’s kids too…

I can discount for the sensitivity of some baby’s ears, but that doesn’t square with the older kids. They can be kept from crawling on the seatbacks and harassing the other passengers. (At least you can if you’ve ever had a history of exercising control.) And you can teach them to “yawn” to clear their ears. (Or at least try.)

In the case of my story, the older one was crying solely because the younger one was.

As I’m sure you know, you can’t just flip a switch when the kids are out in public. If they do as they please without repercussions at home, they’ll act the same way in public.

(I know...So sayeth the Childless One…)

The Guy's Perspective said...

I feel your pain. But what's worse is when babies get dragged to places they shouldn't theaters, restaurants, etc. And of course these parents of these kids have not seen your chart or heard of a bluzdude before. They actually think everyone loves their evil children as much as they do.

bluzdude said...

Agree completely! What so many parents don't understand is that the rest of us don't find their kiddies as amazing as they do. In reality, the "rest of us" judge on merit... we call'em like we see'em.

vange said...

You shoulda shared your drink with the kid.

bluzdude said...

If I could have gotten access to that bottle, I totally would have...

Anonymous said...

I'm old enough to remember ash trays in the arm rests of planes full of businessmen and -women. Families drove on vacations because flying was too expensive. I didn't get on my first plane until I was ten or eleven. And they were called "stewardesses", dammit!

bluzdude said...


I’m with ya, buddy. No way was our family of 5 flying anywhere, until we absolutely had to. (ie. going to California.) My first flight was going to Paris in 8th grade, if you can believe that. It was a school trip. I always loved flying… still do, I guess. It just seems like such a “grownup” thing to do.

It's a shame they've made it such a hassle to fly any more. Between the "security" measures that don't secure diddly squat, and the tacking fees onto everything imaginable, it's a wonder we go anywhere.

Raven said...

LMFAO! I hate to laugh at your pain, but really, you crack me up. Also, love 'Urchin's Law' it's so very true!

bluzdude said...

Well, Raven, that's what I'm here for. If I can cause someone to smile, or maybe crack a kid across the head when they need it, then my job here is done! :)

red pen mama said...

I flew with my husband and Flora once, and it was stressful — moreso because of Dan than Flora. I don't think Flora was a nightmare (she was 18 months old, and had to sit on my lap), but she wasn't an angel either. I took her to the bathroom every single time she pooped (which was A LOT for some reason) and let me say, changing a diaper in one of those stalls is very difficult. I think she cried on the way down in Atlanta (and we had another plane to board, to Florida), and we got a lot of very sympathetic looks.

I don't let my children run riot ANYWHERE. I am the mom, and I am in charge, and not listening to me pretty much gets them a quick trip right back home. I have no illusions about my kids, believe me. (Well, they are the most beautiful and smart 3- and 5-yo on the planet, but well behaved? Flora, mostly, Kate, seldom. I love her pluck, but she's got to cut me a break.)

Next year, we'll be traveling to North Carolina for a wedding, and I honestly don't know if we want to drive or fly. By then, I'll have a baby, a 4yo & a 6yo. It'll probably come down to money. So the flying public will probably be in luck!

bluzdude said...

That’s all anyone can really ask for… for parents to control what it’s possible to control regarding their kids. Behavior is one of those things... earaches not so much. I thank you for doing your best to stem the tide of out-of-control-in-public children. Judging from what I see out in stores and restaurants, there aren’t enough of people like you. Or my brother… my nephews are angels in public… always have been. (See chart!) Even when Daniel was a toddler, as long as he had his action figures or little cars, or a placemat to color, he was fine with sitting quietly while the grownups talked and ate.

I bet with the right toys and diversions, your daughters would be great on a plane. But then the cost… yikes! That’s a lot of cabbage, even when keeping the baby on a lap.

Bachelor Girl said...

"...a quality control reject from the Cabbage Patch Company"?!

PRICELESS! I'm dying over here!

bluzdude said...

The baby totally looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid gone horribly wrong.