I recently took the boys, (2 & 1/4 and 1 year), to visit my parents. The flight from Edmonton to Victoria is about an hour and a half, so seemed manageable for my first flight alone with them. After an uneventful flight to Victoria, and a lovely visit with the grandparents, we packed up and settled into the flight home.
The flight going was at lunch time, so I entertained the children with fun lunch ideas and my oldest found a new movie on the iPad. Other than leaving a pile of crumbs under our seats, I couldn't have asked for better behaved children.
The flight returning was after lunch, right when both children usually nap, so I was anxious as to which child would break down first, bringing the other one down with him. I was pleasantly surprised. My toddler hopped up into his seat, waved hello to people walking past us, and handed over the iPad when we started to taxi. My youngest made googly-eyes at the flight attendants fawning over him as I got settled and later played peek-a-boo with a woman a row back.
I had it under control. Life was good. I was a good mom.
As we waited for the plane's turn to take off, the woman in front of us turned around and abruptly said, "Look, I know he is a little guy, but he needs to stop kicking my chair."
I was flabbergasted. I didn't think AC could even reach her chair, and he most definitely wasn't purposefully thumping the back of it. I dumbfoundly replied, "He can't even reach your chair, he is hardly kicking it."
At that moment, he opened the table that sits in the back of the chair. "Is that what is bothering you?" I ask.
"I can't tell what it is he is doing, but it needs to stop."
So much for my uneventful trip home. I spent the rest of the trip with a squirming one year old, (who didn't cry and fell asleep just as we came into land), and a bare-foot toddler who kept getting told off if his foot so much as grazed the seat in front of him.
The woman in front was sure to make a big fuss and sigh every time he so much as breathed deeply.
About half way through, the woman sitting behind me asked if it would be helpful for AC's seat to be reclined so he really couldn't reach the chair in front of him.
"Oh no," I asked, "is he bothering you too?"
The woman smiled kindly. "Not at all. Both of your children are being so good. You are so brave making the trip with two little ones by yourself, I never would have. Some people just don't get it."
I smiled, thanked her, and loudly stated that my children were 1 and 2 respectfully. Yes, I was alone, and I was just so happy that they weren't crying.
Funny. I often make comments that I don't care about what other people think of me, or my parenting. Yet the first woman's comments deflated my, my kids are awesome and I kick Mom-but attitude. How quickly I forgot how well my baby had played in his stroller for the hour it took us to check in and get through security. Fleeting was my pride that my toddler held my hand the entire time we were in the airport and waited patiently while I repacked the diaper bag that security had emptied. The second woman's comments re-inflated my confidence. The kids were doing great - no tantrums, no screaming, and if you ask me, no kicking.
A complete stranger made me question myself, while another one confirmed I was doing just fine.
In the end, I learned that:
- Not everyone likes children. They will be judgmental about them even before they have a chance to act up.
- Lots of people have been right where you are, and are more than happy to help out, say a kind word, or play peek-a-boo with your baby just to make him laugh.*
- In the end, I am responsible for my children. While children shouldn't interfere with the enjoyment of an event for others, there are some reasonable limits that this can happen within. Come on people, no parent wants her baby to scream the entire time the plane is landing.
- I could have provided a solution. The plane was only 3/4 full. Instead of being defensive, I could have let the person know that I had come prepared to entertain my children, but that there was only so much I had control over. If she was concerned that he would disrupt her trip, then I suspect a flight attendant would have been happy to relocate her. Tray table opening aside, in the end, we need to get home too.
*In regards to people helping you out, I cannot say enough good things about everyone else I encountered on my flights. Random strangers offered to hold bags for me, hold my baby while I got settled and even to load my car seat for me. The fact that I was going to Victoria which is the practically the Land of Grandparents probably helped out in that regard. The flight attendants on West Jet went over and beyond helping me board and disembark, and even helped me from the gate all the way to the luggage carosel. (Oh yeah, I also learned that I packed WAY too much for a 1.5 hour flight.)
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