I don't know what's worse: a 12-hour car trip with my family, who has perfected the art of bickering and can't make it 2 blocks without whining or pleading for food, or flying with said family in today's unfriendly skies.
While the first involves a slow, tortuous eating-away of what patience and nerves I have left - the later involves a more thorough assault on all your senses,and can turn even the meekest traveler into a raging maniac. And that's even before you get on the plane.
I used to feel guilty about flying with my less-than-quiet kids. Although I've only been through two in-flight crying binges in 10 years, my 6-year old daughter tends to talk incessantly through entire cross-country flights...and my 10-year old son is a seat-kicker (not on purpose, but still....).
However, considering what all airline passengers have to deal with these days, my kids have behaved remarkably well - sometimes better than adults - during and after stressful (that would be all) flights. They suffer the same injustices we big people do: canceled and delayed flights, indifferent airline personnel, seating and baggage problems, lack of food and drink, long lines and silly security rules. The only thing they don't suffer from - yet - is the lack of leg room.
A recent OpEd in the Sunday NYTimes discussed how just one or two bad seeds could turn a flight into Romper Room at 30,000 feet....blaming such bad behavior on "parents from hell" rather than on unruly kids.
But syndicated newspaper writer Eileen Ogintz, who writes the column "Taking the Kids," says "Flying with kids is just awful now, worse than it's ever been because the hassle factor is so high." In fact, during some of those flights from hell where passengers were stranded for hours in the plane on the runway -- parents traveling with kids were the only ones with food and entertainment for just such an emergency.
So the next time you're on an airplane with a family struggling to quiet their kids - remember: those kids and their granola bars and Goldfish may be the only thing between you and starvation should you get stuck on the tarmac.
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