I get that screaming/crying children on planes are a nuisance. But in my considerable flying experience, only about 5% of them are, you know, poorly behaved and doing it on purpose. The rest can’t help it. Babies especially. Air travel can be hell on an adult body – it can also be hell on a small child’s body, and small children don’t yet possess the necessary coping skills to avoid causing a ruckus.
I feel hella bad for myself when stuck on a long flight next to a crying child – I also tend to feel bad for the child. And the parent. Because it’s not as if the crying itself is not bad enough – there’s also the dirty looks from everyone else.
There are some really awful, spoiled kids out there – but for most, irritating behaviour on airplanes, crying in particular, is not a choice.
Now here are some people who do, on the other hand, make a choice:
Pervy older guy who was a total sleazebag? Made a choice!
Dude who put his seat all the way back and didn’t want to raise it during meal-time (I was sitting behind him and couldn’t figure out how to eat, since I couldn’t unfold my tray properly. The flight attendant had words with him. Dude bitched both of us out)? Made a choice!
The people who get roaring drunk and start yelling/throwing up/otherwise being pricks? Are making a freaking choice!
Drunk woman who told my dad to “go back to Russia” after he expressed his displeasure at her nearly dropping her suitcase on him while she was standing up in the aisle? Made a choice!
People who sexually harass the flight attendant? Are making a choice!
Couples having incredibly loud, incredibly obnoxious fights on an airplane? Also making a choice. Look, I have some experience arguing with an SO while on an airplane. Screaming “FUCK YOU I KNOW YOU FUCKED THAT DUDE!!!” is kind of rude. Wait till you get to your hotel room. Really, I am sorry that she fucked that dude, dude. If it’s true and you’re not just making shit up, that is. But when you start screaming about it, it distresses me and it distresses the other passengers (and causes small children to start crying, incidentally.
People who make a horrible mess with their food and belongings and don’t bother cleaning up? Goddamn choice.
I could go on, but the point is – there’s good flights and bad flights. On the bad flights I’ve been on, kids have rarely been the problem, and even when they were, it was mostly over stuff they had no power over to begin with. And believe me, I’ve seen some HORRIBLE kids and even MORE HORRIBLE parents (and the worst, by far, was an English lady who smacked her kid around and yelled expletives at him). But they’re still a minority.
When people make blanket statements demonizing all children they’re also just demonizing mothers. Who are still primarily the ones taking care of children and who should stay at home with their brood until they’re all 18, obviously. Nothing sexist about that, right?
7 thoughts on “Yeah, Patrick Smith’s latest column on air travel kind of sucks…”
Yea, I had a lil kid on my flight too last year and the mother did her damnedest to calm him down, bless her. But yes, for very young children, a two hour flight feels like a decade.
Discussions about children on bitchphd (I believe that was where I first found your writing, and only later realized that we have a slew of obschye znakomye)really helped me become less of a jerk on this subject. Bottom line- children are human beings and members of society, and they have every right to be seen and heard in public. All people, children and adults, are occasionally pains in the ass in public, and we all have to have a little compassion about that and remember that sometime the kid is the PITA, and sometimes it’s you.
And of course, as you pointed out, there’s a big fat sexist undertone–and overtone–to bitching about kids in public places.
And for folks who might want to educate themselves on this topic, these two posts are pretty much the gold standard.
Haven’t had as many bad flight experiences as you, but I can only think of one that was caused by a child (an 8 year old, who I still feel was too old to be whining as much as he was).
Best flight experience: traveling with my then 2 year old daughter, who was losing the struggle against a meltdown, when she started to smile and giggle. Turns out an older gentleman (who looked rough) had started playing peekaboo with her. I could have kissed that dude.
I’m sick of hearing. “I don’t like children”, or “I hate kids”. The visceral distate that some people have for children is something that should be totally unacceptable, yet it is widespread, even in supposedly progressive spaces.
P.S Talking of ‘progressive spaces’, that time you called someone out, oh so deservedly on a certain feminist blog – marvellous.
Kids and travel is a favorite topic on news.com.au and brings out the best !(worst!) in Australian opinions.
As I wrote on a comment that probably never got published, if the words ‘kid/s’ or ‘child/ren’ were replaced with a word representing any other minority group on those comments – eg aboriginals, Asians, women, homosexuals – everyone posting on threads like these would be hauled before the courts and charged with discrimination and other offended I’m sure, not to mention that the publication would be fined for inciting hatred towards minority groups.
So why is it ok to bitch about kids? We were all kids once. Stop reproduction and our world wouldn’t last more than 40 years.
I called someone out? I don’t even remember doing anything like that!