Don't Be a Jerk If Your Flight Has Young Children on It

Updated on July 17, 2018
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M. Riley is a mother of three children and has written for numerous parenting sites about the joys and struggles of modern-day parenthood.

Traditional travel advice creaks under the pressure of long distances. Have you ever flown from California to Guam with three kids ages 4 and under? You know what doesn’t work? Cute activity bags for the kids, healthy homemade snacks, or fun books.

The path to survival is paved with granola bars, hours of battery life for the tablets rotting your kids’ brains, and a pair of mom's “don’t mess with me” eyes.

Those eyes aren’t for the kids; they are for you, dear stranger, lamenting your fate of hours upon hours crammed next to my brood. I’ll wait while you tweet about your bad luck. But, know this, if you fit any of these five categories, the crazy eyes are coming out.

The path to survival is paved with granola bars, hours of battery life for the tablets rotting your kids’ brains, and a pair of mom's “don’t mess with me” eyes.

1. The Security Line Stranger

Poor you. You got stuck behind the dad fumbling with an infant carrier and grasping at a leashed two year old. At least you aren’t behind the mom trying to take off her shoes while juggling a baby and ushering her confused four year old through the scary metal detector.

No, we don’t have everything ready for the security line, and, no, I didn’t realize apples aren’t allowed on the plane, and, no, we didn’t ask the TSA agent to check our luggage for explosives just to piss you off.

Sighing and loudly commenting that you’d never put your hypothetical kid on a leash is actually very helpful. And, yes, I know my infant is crying. He’s hungry. Have you tried nursing while going through a security line? I should have planned better?

We’ve been awake for hours upon hours already, so I’ll keep my mouth shut and let my crazy eyes answer that question.

Sighing and loudly commenting that you’d never put your hypothetical kid on a leash is actually very helpful.

2. The Stranger Who Is Childless and Afraid of Kids

Yes, I know we are blocking the aisle. It is much more helpful for you to comment on this blockage than to lend a hand with the suitcase. Yes, I know the two year old is running away. Yes, that is a leash trailing after him. Oh, and yes, that talkative little girl is ours too.

You aren’t making eye contact or acknowledging our existence, so I can only assume these are your questions. Your awkward silence and knowing looks to your childless friend must be the millennial way of offering help. Be forewarned, if you communicate your judgments, my crazy eyes will disintegrate you.

3. The Patronizing Parent

Thank you, wise thirty-something father of five for explaining that my husband’s annoyance with our two year old is simply an unenlightened “choice” made 18 hours into this hellish adventure. I notice that while you put down your self-help book to lecture my husband, none of your five alleged children are on this plane.

In fact, you are traveling alone, which can only mean your wife is taking care of your five kids. I can only assume your patronizing speech is an attempt to empathize because no sane person actually lectures the military family moving with three children under 4 from California to Guam, while he embarks on a Hawaiian trip without his wife and 5 kids.

Oh, it is a lecture? My crazy eyes have a message for you.

4. The Overly Apologetic Fellow Parent

You are flying for the first time with little Jimmy, and you are afraid the whole flight will just hate you if he cries. Oh, the horror.

I have an idea. Why don’t you grovel and repeat “sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry” as you timidly usher your toddler down the aisle? Is little Jimmy laughing too loudly? Better apologize to the childless stranger in front of you.

You do realize bringing actual kids into public is totally normal. Sure, if he throws Spiderman at the dude in front you, I’d eke out an insincere toddler apology for propriety’s sake.

But when little Jimmy acts like a normal kid, talking a bit too loudly, getting a bit too excited by the clouds, or crying when he gets overwhelmed by so many hours of traveling, stop apologizing.

You’re not helping the rest of us by constantly begging for society’s forgiveness. Sorry for doing this, but look into my crazy eyes.

5. The Total A-Hole

Did you just yell at the flight attendant because you don’t like the free in-flight meal and then turn to us with a knowing glance? Umm no. We may be annoying, smelly, and loud, but good God, we aren’t a-holes.

We just traveled overnight on a cargo plane in jump seats before switching to this amazing commercial flight with real-life food. Do not lump a frazzled family into your a-hole crowd. That meal you so loudly disdained is our manna; so, congrats, you are the recipient of the most penetrating, fear-inducing crazy eyes, the eyes I save for the stranger who berates and belittles another person.

Sweet Grandma

Why hello kind grandma. Did you notice my crazy eyes? You think I could use some help? You want to hold my baby? Play with my preschooler? Offer kind words?

I don’t know you, but I think I love you. You’re right. I should put away the crazy eyes. Thank you, kindest stranger of all.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    © 2018 M Riley

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