Kids on a Plane

It’s a much discussed topic when it comes to travelling on aeroplanes and most people have an opinion on the subject. What your opinion is may depend on whether you have or have ever had children and if you have, whether you choose or chose to travel with them.

Some people are of the opinion that we were all children once, most of us have travelled as a family at some point and it is just something that everybody has to expect. Other people’s lives are at a different stage to yours.

On the other hand some people favour adult only flights. Some airlines who use the two decked A380 allocate one of the decks as a family deck, keeping the other child free.

I guess there are some people who would ban children from flights altogether, but I’ve yet to meet someone with that strong a view.

I think most people agree that there has to be a sliding scale of expectation depending on how old the child is. If the child is a babe in arms then we must expect that there is very little you can do to control when they feel the need to make noise. However, if the child is three or above then there should be some expectation that the parent should be able to keep them under control a little bit better. Or am I being too harsh now? Both of mine were impeccably behaved on flights from the age of three, not thanks to me, rather thanks to Steve Jobs and his wonderful iPad.

I’ve seen countless incidents on flights where people have become annoyed at the noises children make. Some people get annoyed before a child even makes a noise and throw a stop just because they are sitting within three rows of a baby. I’ve even witnessed people strop out on a two hour trip to Spain! Seriously, you can’t put up with baby noise for two hours?!

Let’s be clear again, I’m talking about noises made by babies, not shouting toddlers or kids whose stupid/useless parents let them kick and grab at your seat throughout a flight. Or people who keep their kids quiet by letting them play with the bloody table, flipping it up and down whist you slowly lose your mind in front.

Babies who don’t understand language or reasoning, babies who don’t know when it’s night or day on a long haul flight, babies who communicate through loud noises when they’re hungry, tired, happy or sad.

I had an instance of passenger rage directed at one of my children. When H, my youngest, was nine months old we took him and a three year old T to Australia. We have friends there and we wanted to take advantage of my wife’s maternity leave and the fact that T had yet to start school. We felt a five week trip would be something we’d never be able to enjoy again with our kids. Hence we took the brave/stupid step to take two very small children around the world.

We had the time so we decided to split the journey up, spending two days either side in Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully this would make the journey that little bit less harsh.

The first leg from London to Kuala Lumpur was 13 hours. T was happy with his iPad and we were happy to let him watch and sleep, watch and sleep as he felt the need. He was as good as gold.

H stayed awake feeding for an hour then fell asleep. We were the luckiest parents in the world, he slept for a full nine hours. When he awoke we made a fuss, telling him what a good boy he was. He knew how happy we were with him which made him happy, he let out a large squeal of delight.

“For God’s sake shut that baby up…”

She was now looking the other way but I knew exactly who had said it. The miserable cow who gave us daggers when we got on the plane first (because we had kids) and then gave us daggers when she realised she was sitting across the aisle from us.

My wife hadn’t heard it but I had, very clearly.

I got up and walked over. The seat in the aisle was free, the next seat was taken up by who I assumed to be her husband and she was sitting by the window.

I put both my hands on the arm of her husband’s chair and leaned over him so my face was as near to her as I could reach.

“Excuse me?” I said, remaining as calm as possible. This is very difficult for me, I am very protective of my children, I am a very nervous flyer, I am naturally short tempered.

She looked round at me, “These flights cost a lot of money and we don’t want it ruined by your kid.”

I was fairly proud of my response, it was more measured than I could have hoped. “These flights don’t cost a lot of money love, if they did, people like you wouldn’t be able to afford them.”

In this context my reply doesn’t make much sense but I had hit the nail right on her head. In an instant I had identified her as a pompous Hyacinth Bucket (bouquet) kind of character and I was spot on. She shut up immediately, lips puckered like a rectum. Her husband looked like this wasn’t the first time she’d been a bitch.

I pushed myself back into the aisle. I then got a tap on my shoulder. I turned round to see a big Aussie bloke from the row in front standing there. He smiled and held out his hand.

“Well done mate, that was awesome, your kid’s alright!”

That kind of ended the incident on a happy note. I would have been sitting there paranoid that the rest of the flight felt like this woman. Instead he made me feel very happy and proud of the way I’d handled it. I thanked him and sat back down.

What are your thoughts? Any particularly nasty encounters with people moaning about your kids on a plane? Been affected by bad behaviour by kids on a plane? Let me know in the comments below?

 

Thrifty Fathers Day

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Back in June we had Fathers Day. Usually spent in the garden, preparing a barbecue for my father and not sitting on my arse where I should be.

My favourite part about Fathers Day is the lead up to it. The boys getting excited about ‘Daddy’s Big Day’, me partly pretending to be excited but also more enjoying seeing them excited. In the week before I receive the best gifts, the ones they make at pre school. A particular favourite of mine was a card made into the shape of a shirt and tie. Definitely a keeper!

Since they are both now in school, however, these little self made treats are no more. Apparently the school prefers to concentrate on such things as maths, English and science, so bloody old fashioned!

Still, one great thing the school does is organise a Fathers Day gift sale. The school’s an academy so this is one of the ways they raise money for themselves. Basically they have all the available gifts laid out on a table, the children choose one, pay for it and they then get given the gift completely wrapped. The gifts aren’t expensive, they range in price from £0.50 to £10.00 from a packet of Maltesas to a small set of cheap screwdrivers.

At the last event I gave T £20 to get me a couple of gifts from H and himself. I gave both boys some guidance,

“Now I’m grateful for anything, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing you see but please definitely not a key ring…and no pens..”

I’m not being ungrateful, it’s just that a key ring is only useful when you have keys to put on it. Unless we put a new door or a gate somewhere then we don’t need anymore keys, hence I don’t need another keyring. As for pens, I am not exaggerating when I say we have at least 1,500 pens in the house. I used to own a firm and we were doing a trade show and needed gifts for about 100 people. We decided on pens with our company name on. We left it to the last minute and only then did we realised that the minimum order was 2,000 pens. Fortunately the pens are of incredibly poor quality so we are getting through them at a rate of about 100 a year.

Also, I must admit I would have been more than happy with the Maltesas. It wasn’t a packet, this was a box which I could have probably made last about an hour.

The boys came back after about two minutes of searching for the perfect gift for their Daddy and T placed £17 change in my hand.

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Come Sunday I’m obviously excited to see what my thrifty sons have bought me for £1 and £2 (leaving room for the school to make a profit). Now your probably thinking that I got a keyring and a pen, but you’d be wrong. The £1 gift was actually a coaster with ‘Top Daddy’ written on it. I love it, it’s by my computer and I use it every day!

And the other gift? Yeah, that was a pen…

Ignoring your Kids

“when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones”

One of my major pet hates is parents wearing headphones whilst they are in the company of their children. Now, I see ladies in the park doing their exercises with their prams, that’s awesome, what a great idea, exercise classes dedicated to mums with babies in prams! My wife would also like to personally congratulate any mums who have the physical and mental capability to do that within the first year!

However, when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones. The reason is obvious to most but I’m afraid not all people. Your child is just starting to learn how to communicate, they need to practice, they don’t know anybody else to talk to, you are stunting your child’s development – are all the things I want to shout at the parents who walk along with their kids whilst completely absorbed in whatever they are playing through their earphones. Granted, most of the time it is the mums of the two and three year olds who have dropped their older kids at school and are deciding to ignore the younger ones on the way home which is bloody awful, but some of the time it is mums of the school kids, aged between four and ten. They completely blank them out all the way to school, when they could be hearing about the day ahead, what they are looking forward to to, what they are apprehensive about. Then they completely ignore them all the way home from school, when the child may want to tell them about their day.

I took my sons to a school holiday sports coaching session in the summer and one mum stuck in my mind. She walked all the way in with her son, who looked about eight years old, with her headphones firmly stuck in her ears. Not a word passed between them all the way in. At the drop off the coaches said hello to her son, made a fuss of him and tried to tell her about the day, she wasn’t interested. She just held up an ignorant hand and walked away without so much as a goodbye to the people who would be looking after her son for the next six hours, but more tragically there wasn’t even a goodbye for her eight year old. Poor kid.

This leads on to another more minor bug bear, people who pick up their kids whilst on the phone. At our school the teachers bring the children out in a line and send them off to their parents one by one. My kids come running over excitedly, I’m their dad and they are pleased to see me, this is the same for the vast majority of children who come out of school. However some parents are deep in conversation on their phone, not just their phone but maybe with another mum who they haven’t seen since the morning. Their children go running up, but then slow down as they see they aren’t to be acknowledged, again. Quite often the mum will start walking away on the phone and the child will just be expected to follow behind, without even so much as a smile in their direction or a whispered “I won’t be a minute”. If somebody calls whilst I am picking up my sons I find it perfectly acceptable to say “I am picking up my children from school, I will call you back” because it is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

Yes kids are a pain in the backside, yes they talk a lot and half of it it absolute nonsense. Yes you need time for your own thoughts. It is very easy to train your ears and brain to be a filter, to ignore all of the nonsense and just let in the pure gold. Sticking headphones in is not the answer, it stops your child talking to you altogether and makes them think that this behaviour is actually appropriate. It is not.