What is worse than baby screaming lungs out on airplane? Being the parent of baby screaming lungs out on airplane. Wait, no, it wasn’t me. I mean, aside from the possible ramifications of confiscating ipods that could produce hysteria to rival any 6 month old, my kids at 10 and 12 after much experience, have grown into seasoned travelers.
No, on my recent trip, the unlucky parents of 6 month old travel baby happened to be sitting across the aisle from me. Clearly, the parents were newbies to the joys of Airplane Travel with Baby. How do I know this? Well, when baby began to holler like a horror movie scream queen not long into the 3 1/2 hour flight, the look of terror in the parents eyes told all. They began to all but dumpster dive into their “appropriately” sized bag for items of distraction: teething toy, bottle, cuddlys, electronics, Mom boob (ok, well, that was not in the bag) – all to no avail.
And as their desperation rose, I began to feel anxious for them. I wanted to share with them some of my experiences. Comfort them so they would know it was fairly unlikely the flight attendant was on her way to escort them to seats on the wing, designated for disturbers of the peace. To assure them they were not alone.
For example, the first time I flew with my, then 4 month old, son, and he screamed all the way to the coast, body stretched in ridged stress, like stick man shrieking out his dying breath. I was sure I was headed to that seat in the wing (at least I hoped anyway).
Or, the time my, then 18 month old, son decided everyone sitting behind us (which was basically the entire plane) was fascinating and proceeded to over and over again force his way off my lap into the coveted standing position in order to socialize over the seat. Which honestly, I could have handled had it not been for the unsympathetic flight attendant who continually demanded I restrain him to sit on my lap (right!). Finally in exasperation I suggested that if she had any constructive ideas as to how to accomplish this, I was very open to suggestions. She had none to offer, but I swear I saw a flash of something involving ropes, a gag, and horse sized sleeping pill flash across her face. We did not get our Chocolate Chip cookies that time.
And then there was the time when, due to overbooking, we were all seated individually – scattered throughout the plane. After gallant efforts by desk attendant, we were finally told we would have to board, sit in scattered seats, and see what could be done. There we were, on the plane, standing ambiguously in the aisle when it suddenly dawned on my, then 5 year old, son the grim possibilities of having to sit next to a stranger (AKA: one who must be an undesirable ‘cause I don’t know you and might smell funny). No sooner was this realization reached did big fat tears began to roll down his face accompanied by soft puppy like whimpers. In an instant, the plane was filled with Jack-in-the-Boxes on crack as people popped up in order to give us seats together and rescue traumatized child. Thus, the birth of travel motto: When all else fails, Cry.
I wanted to warn them against attempting to change a diaper in the plane bathroom; to tell them to never allow accidental upgrade to first class when travelling with a lap baby; to advise them to always bring an “inappropriately” sized bag for that unexpected 7 hour delay; to always know where the barf bag is; and to inform them that when their child begins to read, explain that “cocktail” on the plane menu is NOT Shrimp Cocktail to be ordered from Flight Attendant during beverage service.
I wanted them to know that not every flight attendant will treat you like Rosemary and her baby, and some will even be kind.
But, in the end, at the flight’s conclusion, I just gave them thumbs up, told them they did a good job and promised it would get better.
Judging by the not-as-defeated smile the Mom gave me, and the I-needed-to-hear-that look the Dad imparted (don’t you know he was contemplating their possible 17 ½ year ban from flying), I am thinking…It was enough.
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