Some of you may already know from seeing my Instagram (if you don’t you are missing a visual delight), but in case you missed my last few weeks, we took Max on holiday for the first time. I can safely say, without knocking the little man too much, I will be using the term ‘holiday’ fairly loosely from now on.
You see, taking a child abroad is a whole new ball game. Some of our friends did it when their children were super young, but we waited until he was slightly older and ‘supposedly’ slightly better at being distracted.
To be perfectly honest, in the past I’ve been that person on a flight thinking; ‘why did they have to bring a child’ or ‘I’m going to be stuck up in the air at 30,000 feet, with no safe escape route!’. But like most things in life, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Why should I miss out on going abroad because I’ve got a child, that is surely just as unfair?
So we did it, we booked a Scandinavian adventure that started as all good holidays do with a delayed flight. Obviously we had planned Max’s sleep around the flight times so panic soon set in when he started getting more than a little antsy before we had even left the departure lounge.
Once we had made it on the plane the next hiccup occurred. We had settled into our seats and been told to strap the little man to Nikki who was primed with toys, snacks and her boobs (if required). The lovely pilot let us know that whilst we all had to stay seated the plane couldn’t take off for another hour. At this point, I was contemplating deploying the emergency shoots and exiting the plane, but we persevered and battled through the odd tantrum. Thankfully, we weren’t alone in dealing with said tantrums… A number of children who we hadn’t seen board the flight took this moment to collectively support Max with their lovely loud voices too. I have to say there is nothing sweeter than when your baby isn’t the only one crying, especially on a delayed flight that still hasn’t taken off.
Then came the moment I had been waiting for, an angry passenger who had had enough of my little boy. It came from the lady behind but in the strangest form imaginable. This lady had got out her phone, disabled airplane mode, logged into Facetime (it could have been Skype or Hangouts or what not, I didn’t look) and then had a very loud chat about the poor conditions, screaming baby in front (Max) and behind (unknown baby) and just for good measure the people in her row who were “speaking Spanish very loudly”. In fairness, I had expected some kind of confrontation but the whole situation was rather diffused by the fact it wasn’t directly at me.
I’ve learnt a fair amount this past year or so and one of the biggest is definitely that parents are forever trying to keep control of their children, and never want them to be annoying to others. I actually help other parents more and more now that I am one myself and having actively rude people around doesn’t really help anyone.
Once the plane had finally taken off we entertained Max as best we could with every snack you can imagine and several toys that we weren’t that bothered if he lost.
My biggest tip about the whole experience is, do not open your child’s sucky cup at altitude. Trust me it will soak you and your aisle. The bonus however, is that if people have been unnecessarily rude about you during the flight it annoys them even more.
One thing that has struck me about my whole journey is the lack of child-friendly stuff. By ‘stuff’ I mean that no one wants to be stuck on a flight with screaming children, so why not have family friendly flights? At least you know what you are letting yourself in for that way. I’d pay a little extra for a bit more room, maybe a little play area or some kids TV, anything really just to get them through the flight.
So, if you don’t have a child yet and are stuck on a plane near one, stop and think that the parents are having a much worse time than you and will have to listen to those screams way, way after the flight lands. So cut them some slack and if you can help out, I’m sure it will be appreciated.
Parents on a plane, you got this. Stay strong.