Look. I know kids are boiling cauldrons of kinetic energy. But I paid for exactly four square feet of space on this flight — including the seatback of my chair. Besides occasionally using the tray table your kid doesn’t need to kick a seat for four hours. And your son has been kicking my seat with feet like fists. I know you see him speed-bagging the back of this damn chair. There aren’t even monitors on this flight so he has no buttons to punch. You stopped him when he was screaming at the flight attendant during the safety spiel so I know you have some limits. I know it’s hard to fly with small children. But this would be true in the movie theater too. Shared spaces = shared rules.
The thing is, life is hard for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Just being a parent, exhausted or not, doesn’t mean you get to phone it in on basic decency and common courtesy. It’s also hard to fly with panic attacks or a broken leg or a broken heart or the millions of other things we humans endure. Every person on your flight could be struggling with something overwhelming. As they say, everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. But no one gets to take it out on anyone else. Even through negligence. That includes keeping your body in your own seat — and your fidgety children’s bodies in their seats. I have chronic neck and back problems after a head-on collision on the freeway. I can’t sit pitched forward like an acute angle because your kid just “can’t” keep his body to himself. I’m not gonna grow a hunchback just to accommodate one freewheeling kid after another. And injuries or not, no one should have to. Handle your business.
No one entered an unspoken contract with you and your wife to endure your children’s volume or lack of awareness of personal space. You all chose to have these kids. This aluminum tube we’re sharing is not your living room. It’s not even a public park.
It’s not like I go to Chuck E Cheese to quietly journal and then pipe off and shake my fist at children for having fun too loud. Kids need to learn that different behaviors are appropriate in different places and inappropriate in others. So whatever you teach them at home, please do a lesson on in-flight voices/behaviors. Teach them not to punch or kick the seat in front of them. Ever. It’s a rule whether you’re exhausted or not. If you catch them doing it just remind them it’s not ok. Don’t assume that just because no one said anything that a.) they didn’t notice or b.) don’t mind. This non-tactic 100% puts the onus on strangers to discipline your children. Do not wait until some exasperated stranger finally snaps and has to police your kid’s behavior. That’s awkward for everyone and could scare your kids. We don’t want to be a jerk. Even when your little blessing is screaming SEE YA LATER SUCKAS! (yes. twice.) No one else should have to lean forward for the duration of the flight because their seat back is getting throttled. If you don’t think it’s a big deal, switch seats with me.
Now, if your baby is screaming, we totally get it. There’s almost nothing you can do. Peace be with you. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you — bring you water or Kleenex? Spot you while you go to the bathroom? Can I get something out of the overhead compartment for you? Do you miss talking with other adults? Wanna chat about anything besides potty-training and Paw Patrol? I’m your girl. I’m more than happy to help. But interestingly enough parents of infants seem to be the most apologetic. Parents of toddlers more uniformly DGAF. Which is fine — in your living room.
If your mouthy toddler who screams in full sentences and understands consequences can’t keep those little feet still tell them they can kick back against their own chair. Or turn sideways and kick you. But they can’t jungle-gym someone else’s chair. And FFS, please don’t check the fuck out and order a second beer.
As you can probably tell I’m not a parent. And I don’t know how many beers deep you can be and still safely and effectively parent out in the world when a lot of logistics are involved. I’m thinking one? Am I supposed to report at three? What if it’s paced over a six-hour flight? Flying is stressful for everyone. But planes are a great opportunity to teach toddlers (and older) that the world isn’t their playground. And that we all owe each other common courtesy.
I’m not asking you to cartoon-choke your kid out, Homer Simpson-style. Definitely do not throttle him as hard as he’s throttling my chair. Nor will I reach back and grab your ankle-biter by the feisty ankles. Although I do think a tale about plane monsters who love grabbing kicking feet could be boogeyman effective. But you’re not even asking if anyone else’s threshold for your child’s behavior is as high as your own. You’re assuming with your silence and complete lack of refereeing that it is or that other people just don’t matter as much as your loin fruit. Letting your kid roam as a free agent in not parenting. Parenting is a verb you signed up to do.
Your child doesn’t have to be perfect. Just please make an effort. And if your kid keeps acting out, your effort has to be consistent too. The world doesn’t revolve around your family. No one wants to spend their flight agonizing over if and how we should ask you to do your fucking job. Besides, what words are non-confrontational that still say, please keep this under control? Were a kid not kicking my chair at this exact moment while I hate-peck this out on my phone I wouldn’t be swearing this much. But it’s been four fucking hours. And before you assume that I’m old and curmudgeon-y, (which I am), know that this the-world-is-my-livingroom attitude unhinged me just as much in my early 20s.
But today I am sparing his parents my awkward wrath and sharing it with you, imploring you, dear parents of the internet. They DGAF. But maybe you will.