Child Out of Control Before and During a Recent Flight
I should have known as I was waiting in the line to pass through the airport security checkpoint for the flight back to the United States that there was trouble ahead — and not the kind associated with inclement weather or mechanical failure.
“No, no, no…” whimpered the father as his child was wandering around the checkpoint area. “Come back here. Come to Papi.”
The child out of control would only move closer to the scanner with every admonition, whose strength was equal to that of watered-down water. Laughter emanating from the little boy only seemed to mock the spineless father, who did not even bother to get out of the line to retrieve his child.
This was going to be a lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-can I add any more Os-o-o-ong flight.
Sure enough, the child — I am really restraining myself by trying not to call him Bratwurst, for he resembled the worst brat I have witnessed in a long time — sat with his mother and father across the aisle and one row forward of where I was sitting.
“No, no, no — you need to sit down and wear your seat belt,” the father said to his son as the widebody airplane lumbered forward on the runway.
“I DON’T WANNA WEAR MY SEAT BELT!” cried the boy as he stood up on his seat.
The father finally compromised and allowed his son to sit on his lap during take-off — unbuckled as the child violently squirmed in his arms while protesting — and the flight attendants who passed by wanted nothing to do with this potential disaster, as if they already predicted what the remainder of the flight would be like.
“I WANT CANDY!” bellowed the boy.
“You cannot have candy now,” the mother replied sheepishly.
“I WANT CANDY NOW!!!” screamed the boy, ensuring that as many fellow passengers heard his demands as possible.
The mother reached into this large bag filled with colorful items — I am guessing toys and candy — and gave him exactly what he demanded: candy.
I have seen jellyfish with stronger spines than these parents.
Aside from a nap for a few hours — which was to the relief of all of the passengers within the vicinity of this family, as clearly and obviously shown on their faces — the problem child constantly and relentlessly pushed the limits and bounds of what he could get away with doing for his entertainment.
The father would put him in the aisle so that he could run up and down freely without supervision. This allowed the father to lean in and eavesdrop on a political conversation between two men seated in front of me before he chimed in uninvited from across the aisle.
I am not certain of everything which was said; but it was clear that his input was not welcomed by the two men as indicated by the tone of their voices and the limited body language which I could see in front of me — the equivalent of rolling their eyes, which they probably did…
…and the father kept forcing his opinions on them, interrupting their conversation as his offspring ran like a banshee up and down the aisle — to the chagrin of the flight attendants who were attempting to serve passengers their meals and beverages.
One flight attendant finally gave a reprimand to the father in a quiet and polite but stern tone to get the child out of the aisle so that they may continue to do their jobs. The father acquiesced as the disappointment washed over his face. He clearly wanted to continue what became a political debate with the two men — while not wanting to be shackled to his anchor of a son, who was now trying wildly on his lap to wrestle himself free while crying and screaming.
“Do you want to watch a movie?” sighed the father. “NO!!!” protested the son, who then pulled down the tray table and started repeatedly slamming it up and down — not long before the child starting running up and down the aisle again.
I felt sorry for several passengers whose comfort and peace were directly assaulted: the one sitting directly in front of the father who had to endure the repeated slamming on that tray table and shaking the chair as indicated in the photograph at the top of this article; the one who had to endure having his seat pulled by the child every time the boy stood up on his own seat; the one who sat directly behind the boy, who at one point ripped off all of his clothing and happily turned around and pronounced to him “I’M NAKED!!! I’M NAKED!!!”; the one who sat next to the mother in the row of four seats in the middle of the airplane and had the boy flop on his lap and step on him repeatedly as he ran across all four seats back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
It did not matter how many glares of death these passengers darted towards the boy and his parents. It did not matter how many times they sighed. It did not matter how many times they were hit, kicked, stepped on, and almost deafened by his screams. The boy was only encouraged to step up his game; and the parents were equally discouraged to do anything about it — other than an occasional scolding so tepid that it would not terrify the shiest person or animal in the least.
In fact, the mother slept through much of the continuing debacle; while the father used the in-flight entertainment system — with headphones on, of course, as his only means of escape — while “Little Trouble” would run up and down the aisle again and again, throwing things on the floor, approaching random passengers around the aircraft for their attention…
…sometimes fully clothed; and sometimes wearing nothing more than a diaper — except when he proudly announced that he was completely naked, which he was.
It was not like the parents rushed to put his clothes back on. They were indifferent to the entire situation. They were as helpless in controlling their child as a person trying to empty the ocean with a slotted spoon.
Very few passengers dared to say anything; and I can understand why. These parents were clearly clueless and oblivious to reason. What were they going to say — “Please control your child”? “Could you put his clothes back on him?” The parents barely listened to the instructions by at least one flight attendant; so why would they listen to fellow passengers with no authority?
Thankfully, I was unaffected by the boy — save for the loud noises — but the aforementioned passengers were not nearly so fortunate, having to spend hours enduring what was probably one of the worst flights they have ever experienced.
By the way, I did not stick around to witness the behavior of the boy after the conclusion of the flight. Despite not being directly affected by the antics of him and his parents, I had had more than enough and was long gone.
There are those people who believe that children should be banned from the premium class cabin. This boy should have been banned from the airplane altogether…
…or — more appropriately — the parents should have been banned from the airplane altogether.
I can only think of one of two reasons to explain the behavior of the child: either he has a physical or mental issue which adversely affects his behavior; or the parents are simply that bad — perhaps to the point where they might be deemed unfit to be parents.
In either case, the family should not have been aboard the airplane. Even more inexcusable than the behavior of that boy was the behavior of his parents on this particular flight. It is wholly unfair to subject fellow passengers to hours of constant misery — and there are people who consider the simple act of being a passenger aboard an airplane for hours miserable enough.
The inside of an airplane is an unnatural environment to many children, as it can be confining with not much to do. It is not surroundings with which they are familiar. It is difficult to sit still for so many hours. As a bonus, the change in air pressure can wreak havoc on the ears of a child…
…so with all of these factors and more, it is natural and understandable for a child to express his or her unhappiness in the form of crying, screaming, complaining or fidgeting uncontrollably — to the displeasure of fellow passengers, who would have been unable to employ one of the 11 most effective tactics for getting upgraded while flying, as the airplane on which we were passengers was full. On October 27, 2014, I reported on how the tantrum of a child aboard an airplane reportedly led to the police being called.
It is difficult enough to deal with tireless children while attempting to sleep in a terminal at the airport as you await your next flight — but unlike aboard an airplane, at least you can escape.
However, a good parent knows what to do and how to minimize the discomfort of a child. Sometimes it is in the form of giving him or her something to do — play a game or with a toy, for example. Perhaps the way to the heart of a child is through his or her stomach; so a favorite snack might be in order…
…and then, there are some children who are perfectly content with the experience. Wonder overcomes them as they unlatch a tray table or pull down a window shade for the first time. They might stare out of a window for hours in sheer amazement.
Children? As a person who usually prefers a seat by the window, I still stare out of a window for hours in amazement; and here is one of many examples why — but I digress.
Dan Miller of Points with a Crew — who is a father of six children — recently posted an article arguing why parents of children flying should NOT give “goodie bags” to fellow passengers.
Forget the goodie bag, Dan. The parents of what some considered to be a “little terror” owe all of the inconvenienced passengers a meal at the finest restaurant, in my opinion.
Many people are usually understanding when a child cries aboard an airplane — especially when the parent is proactive in doing what he or she can to alleviate the situation…
…but what happened aboard that flight with that boy was simply unacceptable and should not be permitted — ever.
The photograph displayed at the top of this article is of the actual boy being discussed in this article. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.