We Are Both Right

Now Boarding: The Plane for Grumpy Adults


Child free flights? Either that or sedate kids before flying.

Far from my opinion, but that was the suggestion of one passenger on a cross-country flight my family and I took in October. My blood pressure had just about recovered from his diatribe when The New York Times ran an article that elicited some wildly fanatical comments and got me all stirred up again.

There’s no disagreement — on this site at least — that child-free flights are a stupid idea. Do we really need to complicate the already inhumane experience which is modern day air travel, just to appease people who think the world should stand still while they walk through it?

You know the type I’m talking about: those who live only for themselves and have such rigid schedules/diets/habits/pristine living spaces that nothing disruptive shall dare ever stir. Nary a child, nor another creature of any kind.

No, I’m not resentful that my walls bear the wrath of ketchup hands and my days (and nights) have not been my own since 2002. I just wish that some people would understand that life isn’t meant to be always perfect, predictable, and peaceful.

Maybe someone walks slower than you, speaks loudly, hums while they read, eats too fast, or drinks only hot water all day long. We’re all peculiar in some way — adults more so than children in my opinion. If you can’t tolerate the fact that not everyone is going to behave exactly as you wish — then don’t come out of your hole.

And if it’s children who especially make you twitch, might I ask how old you were when you were born?

That’s what I should have asked the middle-aged guy on our flight who got on his soapbox in the middle of the aisle as we stood cocked to one side waiting to deboard. Speaking to everyone and no one at the same time, he stated flat out that all children should be sedated before coming on a plane.

Seems that the crying baby two rows behind him had made him absolutely insane, enough so that he complained repeatedly to a flight attendant and she actually went over and instructed the father to walk up and down the aisle to make the baby stop. It was a turbulent flight, and I felt for the father who was clearly flabbergasted and reluctantly obliged.

Oh how I’ve been there — you feel trapped, but at the same time know you’ve made every effort to appease your child, and yet there’s nothing rational about talking to an uncommunicative infant or toddler who is just plain uncomfortable, stir-crazy and ear-achy. My longest hours have been lived on seniors-only flights to Florida at midnight with an overtired infant and on descents that felt like days because my screechy toddler had just plain had enough.

The baby on our flight eventually settled down, maybe even fell asleep. But I knew her parents were probably holding their breath, hoping for a quick landing and escape. And just when they thought they were in the clear, our in-flight Parenting Guru got up and inflicted his opinion upon us all. Another father seated nearby ended it by telling him that a fussing baby was all part of life (his included), so he should get over it.

All I know is that I will never be one of those grumpy people. On the one and only round-trip flight I’ve taken sans kids in the eight years I’ve been a parent (which just happened this past January), I actually felt downright guilty to be reading a magazine while other parents wedged their way down the aisle with car seats and diaper bags. I wanted to tap them on the shoulder and say: “Just so you know, I get it. Don’t worry about changing your baby’s diaper in your seat, breastfeeding during the flight, or muffling baby’s cries. I’m OK with it, even if no one else is.”

That’s when I came up with this vow for my later years: I will never care if a child cries or fusses on a flight that I’m on. As long as I’m not responsible for them, nothing will stop me from napping, reading my book, or staring into space.

I promise. (Or you can kick my seat.)

3 Responses to “Now Boarding: The Plane for Grumpy Adults”

  1. Christy says:

    I’ll take unhappy children over drunk adults any day. We were on a flight to Mexico with our then 2 1/2 year old son, traveling with another couple seated behind us. Behind them was an already drunk (at 7:00am) woman, whom we were secretly praying was not staying at the same resort we were. We all listened to her loud drunken conversation the entire flight, while my child was the perfect passenger (thank God). When we stood up to deplane, she noticed that we had a child with us and launched into a story about how she had been a flight once and a child had driven her crazy the whole time. We saw the eyes roll around us, and elected to remain silent rather than telling her how we really felt since we knew everyone else was in agreement with us.


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