Whose Kid is that Screaming on the Airplane?

Have you ever been in a movie theater, and the brat behind you is kicking your seat through the entire movie? Or in a restaurant, and a baby is spitting its food all over the place, while its mother just sits there in a state of passive oblivion or denial? Or on an airplane, and a child cries and cries and cries and its useless parents do absolutely nothing to stop it?

I just read an article, Annoying Dinner Experience, which deals with such scenarios, and it made me chuckle, because reading it reminded me of how I used to be.

Back when I was younger, if I was in a public place, and a child began to cry or misbehave, I would be one of the first to be annoyed, and one of the first to express it. After all, how difficult is it for a parent to keep a child silent, or behaving properly? I would become especially peevish if the crying or misbehavior occurred in an enclosed area, like a movie theater, restaurant, or, God forbid, an airplane. Certainly one of my greatest irritations was sitting near a crying child on an airplane.

And so it was, until we made a trip to the Philippines to visit my wife’s family. Besides me and my wife, we had our son along, who was all of one year old at the time. A few days before we were to leave, he got a bad cold, and by the time we boarded a flight home in Manila he was very sick. A ridiculously long, unnecessarily irritating stopover in Japan, (get off the plane, stand in this line, now stand in that line, now HURRY run run run to stand in this line, now wait while we figure out what silly thing we’ll have you do next, oh can you stand in this other line now, okay get back on your plane please – all done while carrying around all your luggage, of course), made matters worse, and by the time we got on the flight back to the USA, he was crying nonstop.

It’s a very long flight from Tokyo to Detroit, and except for maybe three or four fitful half-hour naps, he cried the whole time. The flight was hurting his ear, which was already sore from the stupid infection, so every now and then he pumped up the volume and shrieked. It was awful!

And you know what? During the whole trip, during which people around us were trying to sleep, not one single person made a complaint, or looked at us angrily, or said a snide comment to their companions. In fact, it was just the opposite. Everyone was extremely nice and sympathetic to us, and told us our apologies weren’t necessary.

To spread the misery about, so to speak, I would carry our son around the plane, standing in different sections for a while until I felt his screaming was too much for those nearest to us to hear. NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE PLANE EVER EXPRESSED THE SLIGHTEST INDICATION OF ANNOYANCE. I was shocked, and extremely grateful.

The stewardesses even let us stand in their work areas for a little while, to isolate his wailing. When I asked for tissue or water they were always willing to interrupt whatever they were doing and get it for us, no matter how busy or tired they were.

Maybe people were only being nice to my face, and were cursing us behind my back? I sincerely doubt it. Folks were just too nice to us to be faking it.

Needless to say, my whole attitude towards parents with crying and/or misbehaving children changed completely after this experience, and I realize now that previously I had been a bit of a jerk. But I suppose some things we can only learn through experience.


Originally posted by us on FullofKnowledge.