I remember reading story after story of kids throwing tantrums on airplanes. Some so bad that they were asked to get off of the flight. I’d read these articles with wonder in my mind at how a child could possibly misbehave that badly on a flight. I’d taken my kids on flights several times, even wrote about my best tried-and-true travel tips for all parents to oooo and ahhh about, and have never had the problem of my kids acting out on a plane.
And that’s when it happened.
I was on a flight by myself with my youngest. We were on our way back from visiting my parents for the weekend. I’d told everyone that on the flight there, it was a dream because only traveling with one child, compared to the three that I was used to, was the easiest thing in the world. I boasted at how my son was so well-behaved on the flight and it was relaxing for both of us.
But the flight back was a completely different story. It started off OK, and I used the electronics as a distraction. I had snacks, toys, special treats, everything that you could think of to make a child happy on a flight. But none of it was cutting it. He wanted nothing to do with any of it.
The tantrum started off mild at first; a few “no’s” here and there. Then he knocked his toys on the ground. And finally, he became “that kid.” He kicked and screamed, knocking over my drink, his drink, and even the guy’s drink that was sitting next to us. He was like a tornado determined to destruct everything in his path — and he was succeeding.
The dear man seated next to us kept asking if he could help. He sent no judgmental eyes or comments, even after having his drink spilled on him. My son’s screams got louder and the kicks and squirming just got worse. I finally handed everything on my tray that hadn’t been knocked over to the man so I could get a good hold on my son.
People were staring, the flight attendant came over to ask if they could help. At this point, I didn’t even know how I was supposed to help him, but appreciated everyone being so kind. I attempted to get up so I could walk him to the bathroom. I thought I could let him get it all out in there, but he wailed even more as I stood up. I finally just held him close in an effort to calm him down.
It wasn’t until 20 minutes later that he finally put his head on my shoulder and cried himself to sleep. He slept for the rest of the flight and woke up with a smile, greeting all of those around him, completely oblivious to the horror he caused an hour before.
I laughed at myself as I got off of the flight with this little boy who just gave me the worst plane ride I’d ever had. I’ve always been confident in my parenting skills; enough so to give parenting advice to others. So confident that I thought my kids were never capable of acting in such a horrible way in public. I raised them better than that. Ha! Jokes on me.
Confidence in parenting is a good thing, but being completely oblivious to parenting curveballs that can (and will) be thrown your way, is another. No matter how proud we are of our kids or how confident we are in their behavior in public, know that it won’t last forever.
Because we all, at one point or another, will have “that kid.”More On