Several things will happen when my family boards a flight to Orlando later this month:
1) My 4-year-old daughter will be over-the-moon excited about her first trip to Disney World and will needle my husband and me incessantly from takeoff to touchdown to find the one DVD we will have forgotten, fetch her the only snack we denied her, and take her to the bathroom each time the pilot turns on the fasten seatbelt sign.
2) My 1-year-old daughter will be confused and annoyed about why, exactly, she’s stuck on an airplane for 3+ hours and will convey that confusion and annoyance by restlessly whining, kicking and occasionally crying.
3) I will not apologize to anyone for my daughters’ behavior, and I will certainly not be handing out candy to the other passengers because they feel unlucky to be stuck on a flight with my family, as these parents did.
Here’s what else will happen on our flight:
1) My 4-year-old will sweetly sing “Annie” songs to most anyone who looks her way, and even some who don’t. She’ll also begrudgingly offer to share her snacks with her younger sister, although only the snacks she knows her sister can’t eat because she’ll choke on them.
2) My 1-year-old will clap her hands frequently, spend a good amount of time snoozing, and even more time waving and grinning at everyone who passes her by.
3) My husband will look flustered and embarrassed when either girl makes a noise and spend far too much energy worrying what other people are thinking, while I dismiss his concerns outright mostly because I’ll be directing my energy to keeping our daughters occupied and happy.
Kids on airplanes get a bad rap, and frankly, I’m sick of it. My children are about as well-behaved as they come (in public, anyway), and even if they aren’t on occasion, I stick by them, not apologize for them. They are not a nuisance, embarrassment or burden. My kids are being kids — in the air and on the ground. That’s why we had them, and that’s why we love them. It’s not anyone else’s job to love them except for my husband and me. It is everyone else’s burden, however, to deal with it, just as we deal with everyone else.
We’re paying full-fare for them and despite that, the airlines practically never cater to them. There are no special services on airlines for babies — many airplanes don’t even have changing tables in the bathrooms. There are no kids’ meals. The movies are often not appropriate for the youngest passengers.
While the flight attendants are trained to deal with drunk passengers, unruly passengers, uncomfortable passengers and impolite passengers, my kids are my responsibility on a flight. Anyone who has a problem with them should save their pennies and start flying private. My kids have just as much right to be whiny on a plane as everyone else does to eat smelly sandwiches, snore loudly, talk incessantly and use up too much of the shared-arm rest.
It was awfully nice for those parents of twins to hand out notes, candy and ear plugs to the other passengers on a recent flight, but I’m not nearly that nice. Well, maybe I am, but my nicest efforts will be directed otherwise on the plane. As in, I’ll be too busy being nice to my kids, not worrying what other people are thinking of my kids.
As it should be.
Photo credit: Woefully Esoteric
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