Last week, two wildly different women lit up the blogosphere with their takes on motherhood. Tiger Mother Amy Chua has been bombarded with vitriol since unleashing her parenting philosophy on the world, and although watching that train wreck unfold has been riveting, there’s nothing I could possibly add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said.
When I wasn’t soaking up the outraged reaction to Chua’s article, I was glued to the discussion going on over at Almost Fearless. Blogger Christine Gilbert wrote a great post about the myths of flying with children, and the comments have been heated. So far, this one is my favourite:
“If your kid can’t handle sitting still, maybe you should leave it home with Grandma while you go trekking about….The vet told my sister to give her cats some small medication to calm them for a 9 hour drive. Do they not have anything like that for babies?…I wish after 15 minutes of your kid badly misbehaving the pilot would land the plane and make you both get off. Even in the middle of nowhere. You should really know better than to make 100 people miserable in a confined space for hours.”
I think I’ve actually flown with this woman. If not her, then certainly someone of her ilk: unpleasant and self-important, with a sense of entitlement that invariably leads to colossal acts of rudeness. I’ve seen some badly-behaved kids on flights, but in my experience, adults are by far the worst offenders.
This first became apparent when Chef Boyardee and I took Elder Daughter to California a few days after her first birthday. Everything seemed fine when we boarded, but a technical problem cropped up during pre-flight prep and we ended up being stuck on the tarmac for a couple of hours. That’s the sort of thing that really separates the men from the boys, so to speak.
Elder Daughter passed the time serenely. She ate her snacks, looked at her books, took a cat nap — all with barely a whimper. In sharp contrast, several so-called adults threw tantrums that would make a two-year-old gnash its baby teeth with envy.
Since then, my girls have flown almost 120,000 miles. Whenever we walk into an airport business lounge, I see that “oh crap” look on people’s faces. Yet my daughters have never become drunk on free booze and made spectacles of themselves. They’ve never torn a strip off hapless underlings or shouted obscenities into cell phones. They certainly know better than to toss garbage on the floor or verbally abuse the airline staff — all of which we’ve witnessed in countless lounges throughout Europe and Asia.
The girls’ lounge routine is unvarying in its simplicity:
1. Scope out buffet for some tasty treats.
2. While away the hours reading, listening to music, watching films on their portable DVD player, or playing handheld electronic games (sound turned down so as not to disturb the guy 50 feet away, with a voice like a foghorn, who’s conducting some unsavoury business deal on the phone while he’s shovelling food into his gaping maw.)
Their in-flight behaviour is much the same. I used to have to pry the game controller from Younger Daughter’s hands to get her to eat or go to the bathroom. They weren’t interested in causing mayhem anywhere but in Super Mario land.
I wish I could take full credit for my daughters’ conduct, but to tell you the truth, they’ve always been pretty easygoing kids. They’re also experienced fliers, so they know they have to expect some level of discomfort and boredom in order to get the payoff at the end of the flight. Pity some of their elders don’t have the same level of maturity.
What kind of fliers are your children?