Cabin Pressure

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Playground Bureau

Time Out Angie Felton

As a college student, I learned about the various stages of grief outlined by Dr. Elisbeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I've done a bit of air travel over the summer and one thing I noticed is how parents' reactions to their child wailing during a flight mirrors Kübler-Ross' list. I saw saw parents who:

  • tried to be oblivious and didn't acknowledge the noise or crying (Denial)
  • told their kids (through gritted teeth) everything was FINE and to STOP. SCREAMING. NOW. (Anger)
  • offered cookies, crayons, new toys, an extra week at Disney and the sport car of their choice to babies in exchange for silence (Bargaining)
  • bought mini booze bottles from the flight attendant and rested their foreheads in their hands (Depression)
  • made eye contact and ruefully smiled in a "Kids!" sort of way (Acceptance)

    In a way, it makes a lot of sense. Being forced to play the role of Person with Annoying Crying Kid that every flight is apparently required by law to have, is a death of sorts. You might drive a minivan and know all the rules to Pee Wee soccer, but you never thought you'd have the kid who deafens an entire cabin and causes people do birth control shots and book vasectomies upon landing.

    In spite of being sandwiched in a row between not one but two infants quite vocal regarding their displeasure at being delayed on the tarmac while the plane's "computer system" was being worked on (I always suspect that is code for "engine fell out and we need more duct tape"), I was understanding and stink-eye free to the parents of the wailing wee ones.

    You see, it wasn't all that long ago that my husband and I were horrified when our normally good-natured firstborn screamed his tiny throat raw on a flight to visit my in-laws. In spite of bouncing, feeding, burping, changing, cajoling, and walking (judging from the looks we were given by fellow passengers, you'd have thought we were also pinching, stabbing, and torturing) the child was inconsolable. Nearly fifteen years later, I still wish I could send everyone on that flight a doctors note explaining the baby had a double ear infection and the screaming was the result of pain from take-off and landings.
  • No, there will never be an evil glance from me due to a crying baby on a plane. However, the preschooler who kicks the back of my seat the entire trip is another story........

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    AdviceMama Says:
    Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.