Just a note to say that, last night, I heard that an AirTran flight was delayed because a little 3 year old wouldn't sit down, and mommy was too squeamish to make her. Eventually, however, they were thrown off the plane.
My personal experience with flying children: on a TEN HOUR flight from Buenos Aires to New York, I had a lovely man set his child in one of the two empty seats next to me so he could lay down and sleep. This kid must have been having some of those dreams where you feel like you're falling and then you physically stop yourself, because by the time I got off that plane, I had a nice little bruise on the side of my right thigh. And don't think I didn't say something to the father, who just smiled and said "He's only two." So I sicked the flight attendants on him and that was that.
I've just read comments from parents on a blog written by someone at the Washington Post about traveling with children. One comment says something like "let he who has never been a child cast the first stone". Oh come on now. Not for nothing, but I was a well-behaved child, mostly because I knew from a very early age that I would get my little ass whooped if I played too much. This is not at all to say that I was scared of my parents. On the contrary, I had a wonderful childhood, with wonderful parents, and often dream of being three again, and sometimes even act accordingly, dare I admit. When I was a kid travelling to Guatemala, Pan Am had a direct flight from Dulles to La Aurora, a good 4 hour flight. I asked my mom last night after seeing the AirTran bit if I ever resisted and/or misbehaved on the plane. She said "No, Mariposa, you were the best baby. Adult, I'm not so sure." I am sure this is because if I started to act up, mommy would give me the stare, and I would dutifully take my seat and laugh and giggle the whole way. I bet the thought of the marimbas that used to greet us at La Aurora definitely eased any tensions I may have had. I think the worst thing I did as a kid was hide inside the clothing racks when my mom dragged me to Garfinckel's, not that mom noticed until she almost went home without me one day.
So, yeah, the point....Kids are such little brats nowadays. But it's not their fault, and for all you parents that throw up your hands and say "Oh, she's only 2" when the lovely lady in the plane-seat next to your kid complains that your little angel is kicking her, know this: IT'S YOUR FAULT. Yes, that's right, I am thirty, single and childless and offering parenting advice. Do you want to stop getting dirty looks from strangers because you can't won't make your kids shut the hell up? Find a way to make them shut up without hurting them. Let them know that there are consequences for their actions, for one thing, and let them have some ownership of the crap they pull. AND....FOLLOW THROUGH and make good on whatever threat you issue them. If you don't instill in your kids a sense of morality, decency and responsibility early on, you'll have incorrigible little imps on your hands who will only grow up and get worse and become horrible, impish adults. And the cycle will continue with your grandchildren. So, parents, save yourselves, stop being so fucking squeamish with your kids. Give them discipline and they'll thank you later. Take it from someone who thanks her mother under her breath every time she passes some crotchety asshole on the street.
To illustrate my point, here's one from Overheard in New York:
Kid yelling: What are we doing after dinner? [Parents ignore him] What are we doing after dinner?!
Mom, calmly: Stop yelling, or I'll have to kill you.
--10th St, between Broadway & University