Yes, Some Strangers Do Hate Your Children
Now that the holidays are over and holiday travel (hopefully) fully in the past, it feels safe to delve into the specific difficulties of traveling with children. Traveling can be difficult enough with another adult, and doing so with miniature people liable to make loud noises at inopportune moments and run off in opposing directions, well, let’s just say I’m not sure I am capable of such a thing. Even if the children and I managed to arrive in one piece, I am sure that many of the accompanying accessories would be lost somewhere along the way.
And there always seem to be so many accessories! Strollers, diapers, blankies, pacifiers, and breast pumps, baby books, baby carrots, DVD players and video games, these are just a few of the objects I have watched en-route-mothers stuffing back into some bag or another, all while trying to keep track of distracted, grumpy children in a sea of fast-moving adults.
Clearly, this is not easy (and it’s only going to get harder with the array of new security rules restricting, among other things, bathroom trips during the last hour of flight), so I generally try to give traveling mothers, and traveling families, for that matter, a broader spectrum of acceptable behavior than I would apply to anyone over 15. However, I will admit that after a few hours, listening to a child play a video game at top volume does get pretty annoying, and yes, when the couple with the screaming baby sit down right behind me I do feel a bit dismayed.
But while it seems popular to talk about how children aren’t disciplined the way they should be these days, most of the time when I see a child behaving badly I end up feeling worst for the parents. They just seem so stressed about their child’s bad behavior. (Which can lead to its own kind of awkwardness, such as during one recent flight when the woman behind me tried to shush her 6-month-old baby by hissing, “You’re embarrassing me.”)
Which brings me to what I really want to talk about, namely, how do most strangers really feel about other people’s children? A few posts on the New York Times’ (pretty much consistently great) parenting blog, Motherlode gave me some insight into this. About a year ago, a woman posted a question about traveling alone with two small children during the holidays (find it here), and while most responses were fairly positive, some responses were impressively venomous .
“Do us all a favor and stay home,” was one person’s ( I. Hatekidz) take on the situation. (Honestly, though, wouldn’t sitting next to that person probably be just as unpleasant as having your seat kicked all the way from New York to California?)
There were a lot of good suggestions about specifics, in case you’re looking for some. Also, while many people said basically not to worry about other passenger’s responses, personally I agreed with commenter #97: “But above all-they are your responsibility and others will appreciate you for treating the situation in that manner vs. ‘oh well let the other passengers deal with it’ attitude that others have suggested.”
If you are really are someone who just can’t stand traveling in any proximity to children, though, there’s always this article, “Hate other people’s kids? Here’s what to do.”
Or, for a more exhaustive take on the subject, you can turn to the book by the same author, a Dr. Ruth Peters, I Hate Other People’s Kids.
Photo by Ma1974
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