Travel: Being Adult About Children

Nearly every flight to Orlando, where I live, is full. Disney and other destinations attract families by the thousands. And when you put children in an aluminum tube for hours with nothing much to do, there is going to be noise.

The voices of children can be very sweet and encouraging. But I don’t think anyone really enjoys the sound of a yowling child or irritated baby at close quarters. It is not inhuman or mean to admit this. (I always figured that annoyed children, who are generally more forthright than guarded adults, are simply saying something about the experience of commercial air travel that all of us are thinking.)

Oh sweetie, I know. I didn't get an upgrade either.

Oh sweetie, I know. I didn’t get an upgrade either.

What is inhuman, and mean, is to react to a noisy child on an airplane or in an airport. Sure, there are bad parents out there, those whose idea of supervision is to make sure the child stays within the same state most of the time. There are other parents who are tired, outnumbered, or unlucky. But face it: kids can be hard to control. Allowances need to be made.

I get angry with passengers who glare at crying babies and their parents. The baby doesn’t understand that the funny (maybe painful) sensation in their head is their ears popping. The parents saved a bottle to get the child sucking as the plane descends (a well-known cure for ear-popping), but wouldn’t you know, little Caleb refuses to eat. Back in 34E, Jessica, age 5, has just plain had enough of planes, and she is going to TELL DADDY THIS MANY TIMES, LOUDLY SO HE WILL UNDERSTAND AND WHEN WILL I SEE MICKEEEEYYYYYY!!!

I get angry because despite the wisdom of the old book/cover dichotomy, one thing I know for sure: every person on this plane was a child. Every such person had no filter, got cranky, misbehaved, spilled juice, said no to be obstinate, beat their sister with her own Barbie, and said “Fart!” 671 times in a row.

So back off, huh?

I’ve been flying into and out of Orlando so long that I can essentially tune out the unpleasant noises some children may sometimes make. I get annoyed sometimes, but I never react. Once a child kicked me as I was walking down the concourse (I wasn’t even wearing a Steelers jersey); his parents fell all over themselves apologizing. I was unhurt, so of course I didn’t make a big thing about it. I have seen other aggrieved adults launch into long lectures on parenting over such events, further terrorizing the hapless parents into wishing the earth would swallow them up.

I know, not everyone likes children. I do. They’re people, I’ve found. Delightful ones. Oh, they have their moments. We all do. So when a traveling child, any child, annoys you, take a breath. Set an example. Be an adult.♦

© 2013 Adam Barr

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One thought on “Travel: Being Adult About Children

  1. B says:

    Oh very we’ll said. I read a post recently where a mother was asked to “do something” about her cranky (overtired long haul) little traveller. What specific, detailed, and above all constructive advice! Not many parents would think of “doing something”, let me tell you!

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