How (Not) to Calm a Child on a Plane

21_travelJohanna Stein, a TV writer, who describes herself as a “first time parent and long-time neurotic,” read Lisa Belkin’s (of the New York Times) post about the mother and child who were escorted off a Southwest flight last week, and sent her an essay she wrote about being that parent — the kind whose child won’t stop screaming.

Many of us have been where she sat. But, she warns, most of us would never want to do what she did.

Johanna writes:

How to Survive a Midair Disaster
By Johanna Stein

I am at the O’Hare airport with my daughter and the guy she calls “dada.” We are about to board a Florida-bound plane to visit my mother-in-law.

But the child is losing it.

After two years of being the perfect travel companion she has suddenly developed a fear of flying. For a toddler, she’s pretty smart (I’m not bragging when I say that… it actually creeps me out) and I wonder if maybe she’s worked out the physics of what we are about to do. Perhaps she has come to realize, as I have, that manned flight is a practical impossibility and is certain to end in our fiery deaths.

Or maybe she’s just toying with me.

Whatever is going on in that reptilian brain of hers, she is yelling at the top of her lungs, “NO AY-PWAY! NO AY-PWAYYYYY!”

I pour the screaming mass down the gangway. We board the airplane and take refuge in our seats. Luckily we’ve scored the bulkhead. Actually, luck had nothing to do with it. I had flirted mercilessly with the ticketing agent, a very fit man with impeccable hair, who my husband later informed me was clearly gay. Whatever. Whether I’d seduced him, or whether he’d simply taken pity on a woman with zero gaydar, the result was the same: I’d scored. But in this moment I take no comfort in our rock-star seating, because there is a demon in my lap who is trying to separate my scalp from my head.

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Filed under Motherhood, News & Commentary, Traveling

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