Terror of Toddler Travel - June 3, 2012

I’m afraid of flying.  In fact, it terrifies me.  Not because I’ll be thousands of feet in the air, but because I fly with a toddler.  I’m a mommy who lives in fear of not making it to her much-needed vacation because the pilot may be on a power trip and decide to boot us from the plane.


As precious as Babyface is, she is also unpredictable.  She’s 3.  She lives by her emotions and in the moment.  One minute, I’ll be getting smiles that commend me for how good she is.  The next minute, I’ll be getting glares for how bad she’s behaving; kicking chairs, wriggling in her seat or screaming because she can’t wait to go potty.  She is both the angel and devil sitting on my shoulders.


All parents were single at some point.  We all remember the lack of sympathy we felt for mothers and fathers battling a screaming baby in the seat next to us.  After all, they were interrupting our sleep and stopping us from being well rested for our vacation.  We would shout at them with our eyes or let out sighs, telling them to “shut their kid the f$&* up!”  I remember feeling frustrated, the minute I would see a child within a 5-seat radius.


This must be a case of what comes around goes around.  I now know the nervous flutter that a parent feels when their child is just on the edge of an in-flight tantrum.  Or, worse yet, a full on freak out, even before the plane has started to fly.  Almost every month I read a story where some kid got booted from the plane before take off.


The latest is the dad and his son who got kicked off the Alaska Airlines flight because the kid didn’t want to wear his seat belt.  They finally got him to settle down, but only after the pilot had already turned the plane around.


Isn’t it damn expensive to do that?  I realize planes are trying to cut costs (pretty soon we’ll have to pay for peanuts and soda), but why not still invest in those pins with wings we used to get as a kid?  Getting one of those was like getting the coolest Christmas present ever.  Or, why don’t they invest in a short coloring book and a few crayons, like the restaurants do for kids who continue to be unruly.  Clearly, that must be less expensive then turning an entire plane around, right?


Even treating us like 3rd class citizens and making us sit in the back of the plane would be better than just booting us.  Maybe they can create a designated area for families with kids.  I know my daughter would love to make a few friends on a long flight.  They could color together and watch in-flight movies.  Disney has cruise ships.  When are they going expand and include flights?


As a type-A mom and planner, I always let my daughter carry an entire princess suitcase with toys, books, coloring packs and snacks.  We load up the iPad with all new apps.  We download digital copies of almost every movie in her library.  Preventative packing has become an art form.


On the bright side, the mother and daughter were still allowed on the flight.  I wonder if that mother had maybe a second of hesitation to continue on to her destination and pretend he wasn’t her husband and that wasn’t her kid.  Even for just one second, smiling and saying, “Virgin Islands, here we come!”  Just maybe?


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