I just figured out why comedians get so much great material while they're flying to their next destination. The humor quotient aboard airplanes is so incredibly high - probably because hundreds of people who don't know each other are crammed together for several hours, battling choppy winds, secretly praying they land safely, while infants, two year olds and other individuals and pets who can't control themselves cry, whine, bark and kick incessantly.
In fact, right now, I am sitting aboard a plane equipped with everything you can possibly imagine and while the technology is divine - love the wifi, music, TV and film selections from the air, but nothing can drown out the toddler seated behind me in row 25F. Granted, I have two children of my own but at this stage of the game, they are model flyers. If they so much as tap the seat in front of them, they get an evil eye from me and they instantly apologize to inconvenienced passenger. Plus, when we hop on board a plane, we've got additional reinforcements - from DSi's, to my laptop, iPod's and an iPhone. Of course, there are books too, but who has time to read when you're knee deep in gadgetry?
By some stroke of fate, I was seated in a row where my chair doesn't recline as far back as anyone else's. Which means while seat 23F is enjoying a fully reclined experience and has practically pushed my laptop into my abdomen, I pressed my recline button and my seat moved about an inch and a half. And here's the kicker...I'm taking the red-eye back tomorrow and if I'm in the same seat, I'll pretty much be sleeping standing up.
Meanwhile, over in seat 25F, I had to voice a complaint to the father of a toddler who would not stop kicking my chair. He instantly told him to cut it out and so far, I haven't felt his tootsies jabbing into my back so at least we're all clear on that front. About 10 rows ahead of us is a baby who I think finally knocked herself out after wailing incessantly for a good 30 minutes. Oh wait, she just woke up. WAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!
I know since I'm a parent, I shouldn't complain about other people's kids. I mean, I was in their shoes just a few years ago. I know how stressful it is to fly with little ones. The amazing thing is is that once you've passed the baby and toddler years, your threshold for tantrums and uncontrollable outbursts is significantly lowered. There's an unspoken rule about plane rides. Keep it quiet and everyone will be happy. But throw a kid under 3 into the mix and trust me, your peaceful plane adventure will go out the window, like a pigeon being sucked into an engine. Oops - maybe I shouldn't say that while I'm actually in the air.
Incidentally...some tried and true methods to keep your kids quiet on a long flight:
1. PACIFIERS - I don't care if you think that using a pacifier will cause your child to develop an overbite. When they are screaming because their ears hurt and they haven't yet mastered gum chewing, a paci works like a charm!
2. DVD PLAYERS - Bring their favorite selection of shows - from Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, Sponge Bob, whatever it takes - there's nothing like a TV show or movie to lull a kid into a catatonic state.
3. EAR PLANES - I discovered this magical product at the counter near my airplane gate. Stick some rubber gadgets in your ears and Voila, the pain you encounter when the cabin pressurizes your head and it feels like it's being shoved into a vice, instantly disappears. They have Ear Planes for kids too...trust me, they work so stock up on them!!!
4. COLORING BOOKS, CRAYONS & MODEL CLAY - This activity will buy you at least a good 15-30 minutes depending upon your child's attention span. Of course this won't work with toddlers so instead, stick a Leapster in their hands and have them draw and play games to their hearts content.
5. FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD - There's nothing like snacks that'll get a kid to pipe down. Stay away from sugar though - you don't want you're toddler bouncing off the ceiling while everyone else is trying to nap.
So there you have it - flying with kids can be pleasant - all you need to do is have the right reinforcements. Or, you can always hold off on taking long flights with your kids until their at least 5 or rent an RV and drive cross country.
Time to say another few prayers to the airplane Gods, my grandparents, aunts and uncles who are always watching over me as I look forward to landing in the land of glitz and glamour. Hollywood, here I come...and watch out - I'm bringing a handful of screaming kids with me!