One of my favorite bloggers and also a good friend, You Know It Happens At Your House, Too, kindly asked me to write a guest post for her short series featuring Dad Bloggers this month & here it is. Thanks, Tara!
Before I was married, I used to travel a lot for business. Connecting flights to random airports were the norm for me. If I was lucky I got upgraded to First Class. If not, I usually tried to sit in the quiet part of the plane, i.e. away from the parents traveling with little kids.
It’s not that I didn’t like kids, it’s just that I was invariably seated next to a mother traveling with screaming triplets and no other adults to help. I really think it must have been a similar experience that inspired the invention of noise-cancelling headphones.
Yes, I had no sympathy. I just wanted quiet so I could
read in peace watch my DVDs of Anchorman or Old School for the 64th time. Do you know anyone who likes being kicked in the back for 3 straight hours? I walked off of many flights feeling like a soccer ball after the World Cup.
That all changed when I became a parent and started flying with the Little Dude. He was 7 months old and it was our first trip as a family of 3. We’d pre-boarded our aisle and middle seats in the bulkhead of the plane. A few minutes later, a woman approached and noticed us. The look of disgust on her face resembled Morgan Spurlock’s after he ate at McDonalds every day for a month. I watched her complain to the flight attendant before ultimately taking her seat. Let’s just say that my kid is so charming that within 30 minutes of departure she wanted to hold him. It wasn’t lost on me that the way I’d long felt about kids on planes was being forced to evolve now that I was on the other side of the equation.
Traveling solo, I was thrilled to board a recent flight before most of the cabin. I staked out my carryon space in the overhead compartment and watched the huddled masses squeeze down the aisle, silently guessing who I would get stuck with. As I was getting settled in my aisle seat, I saw a woman with a screaming newborn baby headed in my direction. I cringed and empathized concurrently.
They slowed down and sat across the aisle from me. I thought to myself that it was going to be a long 90 minutes. But then my parental instinct kicked in and told me to chill. I watched as they got settled and the baby calmed down a little. It’s not a stretch to say I’ve mellowed over the last 2 ½ years. But I felt much more at ease than I anticipated given the situation was compounded by my lack of sleep and change of time zones. As I was trying to get comfortable, a man claimed the window seat to my right and I stood up to let him pass.
I sat back down and was checking email on my iPhone when I heard someone say “excuse me, sir”. I looked up to see a woman with a boy who was probably 7 or 8 years old. “That’s his seat.”
Caught off guard, I stood up and let the boy pass. He had an Elmo backpack slung over his shoulders and was clutching a teddy bear tightly. He sat nervously between me and the window-seat man.
I looked around, expecting his mother to be headed off the plane after having dropped him off. Maybe to see his grandparents or his father, I wondered to myself. Instead, she was headed 4 rows behind me to her own middle seat.
It was my turn in a heated game of Words with Friends, but I was suddenly distracted despite an available Triple Word space. I started to feel badly for the young boy stuck alone between two strangers. It wasn’t that long of a flight and he had things to occupy him, but I wondered how he was feeling. Was he scared? Should I say something to put him at ease? And it made me wonder how I would feel if my own young son was in his position.
I looked to my left and suddenly that baby didn’t seem to be crying so loud anymore.
I stood up and turned around. I spotted the boy’s mother and asked her if she wanted to switch seats. With a look of joy and a tear in her eye, she happily said yes.
So I grabbed my things, headed down the aisle and crammed into a middle seat for 90 minutes. It was totally worth it.