I have traveled with at least one small child for almost three years now. With my parents in Florida and my in-laws in Virginia, if we want to see family, someone must travel. Let’s see I’ve taken 11 trips, that’s about 25 days of travel (since a FL/VA Christmas is 3 days of travel, but 1 trip) and since they are so far away this equals out to about 49 airplane rides. So let’s just say I have some experience in this area. And let me tell you I’ve met people, that you would not believe exist.
So, let me say this to those of you who disparage children on planes. Mothers are already on high stress mode as they enter the plane, nasty looks and comments such as, “I have deal with that?” are not appreciated. Leaning over to person next to you and making comments about ones child screaming loud enough for the mom to hear, is not appreciated. Proceeding to have a conversation about “I wouldn’t let my child behave like that”, or “I’d whip my child if he tried that” (which, by the way, old timer, in today’s society spanking a child in public, opens you up to a possible child abuse charge, depending on what type liberal is nearby.) Or making the comment, “Children don’t behave that way for their fathers.” Well, just shut your mouth, because you don’t know what you’re talking about. A nasty look is enough to send a mother of a crying child to tears herself. And above all else, you cranky people, do NOT turn around and shush my child. Especially, when that child is simply babbling happily. In case you have forgotten, children are not silent, especially when they’re learning speech.
To flight attendants and check-in people. You have the power to highly affect the attitude of the mother. If you smile, offer water or drinks outside of the beverage service, play with the kids, or go above the duty, you really have given a mom relief. If you continuously frown, and otherwise ignore them, or demand they put a seatbelt on your child, when they’re obviously trying and the child’s pitching a fit… you’re not helping the stress level. And to check-in people, I profusely thank those of you who have unsolicited changed my seats so that I have an empty seat next to me, you really have made my day and my life easier.
To those of you on the plane that offer to hold my baby for a few minutes, or help carry my bags on the plane, offer sympathetic looks, encouraging words, a smile, or compliment of how beautiful my children are, and especially to those who offer hugs or encouraging touch on the shoulder, I profusely thank you too. To know that while I make 2 hours of your life miserable that you are rooting for me, the mom, means the world.
Now, a word to the women, the older moms, the grandmas. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You are the majority of mean people on planes. I kid you not. I have received the most nasty looks and comments from women, some of whom I know are moms. You are the only people that have actually physically changed seats because you cannot stand being near my children. Take a lesson from the business men. The business men are the ones I always think will be the most upset with my children, but in fact are the nicest and most attentive. I have not had a single man change a seat away from me. I have had multiple offer to hold my babies and play with them. Maybe its because they see their stressed wife in me. Maybe they feel guilty for leaving their children, I don’t know, but they, on average, are the nicest.
So, next time you get on a plane and you see that you have one or more small children around you, take a deep breath, and offer the mother a smile. Do your best to enjoy the trip, and at the end, no matter how poorly the children behaved, smile or say something encouraging to the mother, even if its, “I’m sorry that flying is so hard with small kids, I hope the rest of your day goes well.” If the children behaved well, be sure to compliment the mother. And be assured, that no matter how hard the trip was for you, it was 20 times worse for the mother. And for those of you who never flew with small children, but took long drives in the car, just think about how stressful that was, and how much more stressful it would have felt if you had had 100 strangers near by to be a party to your children’s behavior. (Even if its an innocent baby crying.)