Culling the Herd

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
So I came home from my business trip on Saturday. And after a long week of spending twenty hours on various planes over the course of five days, I was ready to be home.

I was sitting in front of a family with two small children. One was about 4, the other about 2. And they were the most ill-behaved children I've ever had the displeasure of traveling with. The four year old (we'll call him Damien) spent the majority of the flight bouncing from seat to seat, kicking the seats in front of him, pulling himself up by the headrests on seats in front of him, and generally being a nuisance. The 2 year old (we'll call her Rosemary) partook of crying jags every 30 minutes or so, lasting about 15 minutes each. As near as I could tell, they were precipitated by her being forced to sit during takeoff and landing, by not being allowed to run willy-nilly up and down the aisle of the aircraft, by the flight attendant forcing her mother to prevent her from constantly pressing the call button and other incidents of having her will thwarted.

Kids are going to be kids, and I'm in no way suggesting that families with children should not be permitted to fly. Families are spread out, and oftentimes the only way to establish and maintain relationships with distant relatives is to fly. Nor do I get particular upset when little people fuss during long flights (especially during take off and landing). Sometimes that particular experience makes me want to cry, too, and the genuine discomfort of not knowing how to clear your ears during altitude changes is really all the excuse a toddler needs.

No, my issue in this case is with the parents. If your kid is behaving in such a way that their shenanigans negatively affect the experience of every other person in their vicinity, and you do nothing - well. Let's make no mistake, here. I have no obligation to tolerate your kids' bad behavior, nor do I have any emotional investment to reduce my irritation with them. So don't be surprised when I turn around in my seat and tell your charming son Damien to stop kicking my seat in my best SNCO voice.

So while I don't think children of ill-behaved parents should be banned from flying, I would support a seating layout which isolated the offending parents and their children to some sort of sound-proof dome, a la The Oatmeal's Movie Theater Layout. Can't control your demon spawn? INTO THE DOME, MOTHERFUCKER. 

6 comments:

Stacey said...

You'd think they were Olympic events - seat kicking and headrest pulling. Like you, I don't mind if the babies fuss, but the rest? INTO THE DOME.

John the Scientist said...

I won't even let my kids pull down the video screen on the seats in front of them by themselves - I konw how that puuuull-thwang on the seat feels from in front.

We once had a flight back from Japan where either my wife or I were in the bathroom with my son for almost 6 hours because he would not stop crying (overtired). There is no excuse for letting your kids run wild on the plane.

Carol Elaine said...

And this is why I'm getting little sleep tonight and taking some Ativan as I board the flight. I plan to sleep during the entire four hour flight.

Why no, I'm not at all nervous about flying for the first time in 6 or 7 years - why do you ask?

Megan Broutian said...

Yes!!! A dome! A soundproof dome!

Anne C. said...

I had a little girl of about 7ish kicking the back of my seat (constantly, bang-bang-bang, not accidentally) and I did turn around, give her The Look, and say in a very directed voice "Stop kicking my seat. It's very annoying and rude (or something to that effect)." I don't know who her companions were, nor did I care. She did stop, for the most part. There was a brief resumption right before she was distracted by landing, but it was just a couple thumps that could have been accidental.

It felt good to assert my right to a comfortable plane ride.

Dana Teel said...

We just need Maxwell to allow us the use of his "cone of silence" technology, we can then trap the offending children inside with their parents.