Aristotle and I have flown on a plane a total of 9 times since he was born. Every single time, he’s been wonderful. He sits down and keeps busy with whatever he has in front of him. Other passengers comment on how pleasant it was to fly with him.
Hercules and I have flown on a plane three times. The first two flights, he was under 2. He slept for most of it and we were sitting in the front row. He hadn’t really discovered his vocal chords yet and he was still fairly easily distracted by a TV screen. The third time was recently and suffice to say that no one complimented us on how delightful it was to fly with us.
I was armed to the teeth with distractions but it wasn’t enough. Hercules sat in his seat like there were ants in his pants. I could barely keep his belt on during turbulence (which was most of the flight), I struggled to shush him from errupting into wild laughter and delighted squeals in between his vibrant greetings to his grandfather who sat two rows away. He gave the man in the seat in front of him a back massage with his frequent kicking of the chair back. He bounced up and down in his chair like he was on a trampoline – much to the annoyance of the man who sat beside him.
I finally truly understand how hard it is for parents who have children with the “moving” bug. Until Hercules, I have never had to deal with a child like this and I confess it – he was out of my control. I did my best to distract him – the iPad, the games, the TV shows on the plane, stuffing him silly with food, and the boob. They helped a little but not enough. We did have a full hour of respite when he napped – pity he didn’t sleep longer.
When we finally got off the plane, he was like a kid high on speed. The times I contained him in the baby carrier to stop him from chasing his brother, he was swinging his body wildly from side to side while he sang, squealed, shouted at the top of his voice. When I shushed him, he would play high 5 with my face and neck then arch his back so he could view the world upside-down. If I got too near anything that was “grabbable”, he would grab it or kick it. He ignored all my requests to stop it. When I raised my voice, he would burst into a shrill wail that was probably more disturbing to the peace than any of his singing or shouting.
I know it’s annoying when you’re a passenger having to put up with children like Hercules on your flight. I was one of those passengers once. Being on the other side of the fence has given me a whole new level of respect for the parents who dealt with children like Hercules. Now that I am a parent of a child like this, I finally get it. Some children have a need for movement and when they are couped up in an aeroplane for 7.5 hours, it’s hard to sit quietly in a seat with your belt on – especially when you’re 2.5 years old.
I offer my sincerest apologies to the passengers who have to put up with us. I also appreciate that they were all understanding enough to put up with us without snarling at me for my child’s disruptive behaviour. I really did my best to minimise the annoyance.
Do you have an active child who can’t sit stilll for long? How do you manage long haul flights? Perhaps we can all share some tips. Since I have another flight coming up, I could really use some right now.