When it comes to toddlers and their infamous personalities, though, perhaps the biggest injustice is their reputation on airplanes. One airline has even announced a kid-free travel zone, essentially quarantining the little rascals to certain areas of the plane (this, by the way, is the same airline that has banned infants from first class).
It’s true: toddlers can be noisy. They occasionally throw toys and sometimes even throw temper tantrums. Having done more than my fair share of traveling with toddlers I’ll admit they can try my patience and test my coping skills.
There’s nothing worse than boarding a flight with a child, walking down the aisle and seeing an entire aircraft united in prayer that we won’t be sitting nearby. Sometimes a kind older woman gives me a knowing, empathic look but generally speaking the only “looks” I get are of the evil eye variety.
Most of the time it goes well. Thanks to laptops and iPads and brand new coloring books, my toddler typically does fine on flights. It can be stressful and there have been times I couldn’t get the crackers out of my carry-on bag fast enough, but in all my years of parenting we’ve never had a single incident that warranted the evil looks and eye rolls from our fellow travelers.
But when they do have those moments of not-so-angelic behavior, I’d ask for a little understanding from my fellow passengers. Traveling is stressful for kids– just as it is for adults. The days are long and usually come after nights of little sleep. Kids are out of their comfort zone on airplanes and often don’t fully understand what’s happening. Add to that the bonus of stern glances from all of the interesting people packed tightly into a confined space, and you can begin to get a sense for why children may communicate in “bad” behavior.
I’d also ask you to consider this: there are worse things than sitting next to a toddler on an airplane. Here are a few travel companions more disruptive, obnoxious, or just plain annoying than any toddler on his worst day.
And next time you see a stressed out, tired mama waking your direction on a flight to Schenectady, Kalamazoo or Topeka, give her a hand. And a juice box if you’ve got one.
Top Photo Credit: DoeppJakab/Flickr
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.