Monday, November 26, 2012

Mommy Mondays: A Rant, if I May

Last night just got added to my list of top ten worst parenting moments ever. A good half of them revolve around air travel, and this was no exception. See, we went to Paris for Thanksgiving, and the only flight back to Yekaterinburg from Frankfurt takes off at 8:30 pm. It's a 4.5 hour flight. I'll do the math for you - we arrived at 1:00 am Paris/Frankfurt time, which is 6 am Yekat time. It's bad, people. Just bad. Jack fell asleep (as usual) about an hour before landing, after crying and whining and being a general pain in the ass for the three hours prior. Then he woke up while we were landing and shrieked like a banshee - a combo of ear pain from a cold and just being plain old tired and pissed off. I didn't blame him, but I'm pretty sure the other 100 or so passengers did.

In the face of doing this all again in three weeks, only to a far worse extent (5 hour flight, followed by 2.5 hour layover, followed by 10 hour flight, followed by 2 hour layover, followed by 2 hour flight), I've come to realize that what is truly so horrible about air travel with a small child is not the child itself; it's the constant fear that I'm pissing off the people around me. But here's the thing: no amount of cajoling, yelling, bargaining, pleading, bribing or sobbing helplessly seems to make a difference when it comes to Jack. Yes, I was once one of those judgmental people who watched dazed parents sit idly by while their child had a tantrum mid-flight. "Why don't they DO something?" I would hiss to John, who would nod in agreement that when we were parents, we'd at least smack our kids around a little if they insisted on behaving like monsters. (I kid, I kid. Mostly). Hindsight, my friends. Hindsight.

The worst part is that there are other PARENTS out there who are just as awful and judgmental as the non-parents. Google "ways to help toddler sleep on airplane" (not that I've done this or anything) and you'll find all kinds of parenting message boards where one poor dope asks the question, clearly hoping for some magical solution like Benadryl, and is then bombarded with stories from mothers who have traveled around the world non-stop for eight days, who when not nursing their twin three-year-olds - who of course sleep for 24 hours straight - are entertaining their precious children with handmade puppets and educational flashcards or feeding them snacks of raw granola and fresh squeezed carrot juice. How dare you even think of drugging your child! The horror!

Let me tell you something - the only reason NOT to drug your child on a plane is that it may have the cruelly ironic side effect of making your child hyperactive. Trust me, I've tried it. And Jack is either one of those kids that responds poorly to Benadryl, or he's just freaking hyperactive when it comes to airplanes. (Considering I give him allergy meds on a semi-regular basis for actual allergies, and he usually sleeps like a log, I'm leaning toward the latter).

So what is a Foreign Service parent (or any parent who has to travel with their child every now and then on a flight longer than two hours) supposed to do? I'll tell you what THIS Foreign Service parent is going to do: make like all those glassy-eyed, frazzle-haired parents I used to judge and not do a damn thing. The other passengers may hate me for it, but I'm pretty sure my blood pressure - and John - will thank me in the end.

9 comments:

Julie Luek said...

Once, when my son was a wee lad, he threw a holy tantrum in church. I looked to another mother who had multiple children a bit older than mine and asked, hoping for sympathy, "I bet you've had your share of this kind of stuff too, huh?"

She looked at me with a benign smile and said, "Actually my kids have never thrown a fit."

I didn't like her after that.

Hang in there. It doesn't feel like it in the process, but these phases do pass all too quickly.

LNRB said...

I think the solution here is to have me travel with you at all times and punch people who give us dirty looks. Sound good?

Lynne said...

If you can't do Benadryl, try Dramamine. Alex had legitimate air sickness issues, and the Dramamine flight was the first one she ever slept during. It also helped we made a 2-blanket-cave to create the necessary-for-her darkness. Good luck. I don't envy you. We only go home once a year because it takes a year to recover from the flights!

ExpatEliz said...

Snacks and electronic entertainment! That said, sometimes they're just gonna cry and that's when you practice your pilates breathing and pretend everyone else has a problem.

Shauna said...

Don't do a damn thing, you can't help it when he is in that tantrum! Airplane rides are no fun, especially long ones, and who can blame Jack, he doesn't know any better! Shame on those judgemental stares, I know we have all been there, annoyed by the crying kid on the plane, but everyone on the plane is just annoyed in general, so screw it. If it's not Jack they are annoyed by, it's their snoring neighbor, the flight attendant, the delays, the turbulance, something. Nyquil for children? I kid, I kid...

shauna said...

p.s. I adore your blog so much. I love your parenting stories, hearing about your novel progress, and just being able to keep up with your life through fb and your blog. I love how you write your blog posts, I can picture you saying the words and it makes me smile. Since I have known you since a young teenager, your wit never ceases to amaze me and I just love it and YOU!!

L-S-E said...

Aw man, I am so sorry to hear about your experience! I had a pretty awful flight with my son a few months ago, and the stares (which also included eye rolls and audbile sighs) were the worst. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do, so screw them! Good luck with your future travels. I hope life in Yekat is treating you well :)

Lily Cate said...

My son has always been a good traveler, but I take absolutely no credit for that at all - just luck of the draw!I wish I had some magical advice that could help.

Whenever I see a parent dealing with completely normal but totally embarrassing kid behavior, I usually want to comfort the poor parents! We need an international sign for "I totally am not judging, we've all been there!"

Kristine Nielson said...

My daughter was a champion traveler; my son, not so much. It's just a difference in temperament, so there's not much to be done about it. I had a guy offer me dramamine for my son once. I didn't take him up on it since I wasn't sure about the safety or dosage for a 20 lb kid.

Good luck, and like other people have said, it's a stage and they do grow out of it. Hang in there!