Parenting is hard. Most days your entire schedule revolves around a group of irrational munch-kins You have to prepare food that is good for them, yet they will still eat. You have to set limits on fun stuff like TV time and playtime and handle the inevitable temper tantrums that ensue as a result. You have to bathe them without getting soap in their left ear because they are just getting over an ear infection. You have to disinfect their hands after every trip to just about anywhere outside of your home. And all of this is just an average day. Now ponder with me a hard day. A day where you are all out of your comfort zone. A day where you are on a strict schedule beyond your control. A day where you have to jump through hoops, avoid obstacles and fight off super-powered germs. Yes, come along with me on a day of flying with children in tow.
First, you must pack half your house (into three suitcases no less thanks to those absurd baggage fees) because it takes a lot of gear and spare outfits to care for little ones. Then you must get to the airport at two and a half hours before boarding. In this time you have to juggle all of that luggage while holding your childrens’ hands so that they don’t get lost. Then it is time to wait in line to check in while corralling your kids through the maze of black rope. Once you are at the check-in counter, you have to do the check-in thing while keeping the kids from from trying to jump on the luggage scale or run away. After that it is off to the security line. As you can imagine this is a fun time to be had by all as well. Then off you go trudging to the terminal struggling to hold on to all of the kids and car seats at the same time. And of course small legs are not accustomed to long distances, so the kids usually want to be carried part of the way. If you have never tried carrying a bulky car seat anda 30 lb kid across an airport terminal, I don’t recommend it. As lovely as this all sounds, it is a picnic next what comes next–the boarding and flight. When you enter the plane, you see the look of dread spread across everyone’s face when they see your kids. Yay! Hello to you too. Upon sitting down, you must make your kids resist the urge to play with the seat tray, seat recliner, air mask, etc. And if you are traveling with a baby you get the added bonus of making sure that their ears pop sufficiently on take-off and landing or you (and the rest of the plane) will get an earful of loud painful wailing. Not to mention your baby will be in excruciating pain and it can cause damage to their ear drums. The best way to keep their ears safe is to feed them during this time because the constant swallowing causes their ears to stay clear.
So imagine that you have your baby nestled close to you in a wrap and have just finished nursing him after take off. He is blissfully drifting off to sleep and you are able to nurse discreetly without flashing the neighboring passengers. Sweet success!! All of that drama earlier has paid off. You have made it on the plane and your baby is going to sleep through a good part of the flight. At this point a snooty (and obviously childless) flight attendant comes by and tells you that you must remove your baby from your wrap. NO!! You know that this will wake him up and you will not be able to put him back to sleep without either walking him up and down that tiny aisle or nursing him without the privacy of your wrap. This is what happened to mommy blogger, Jen Starks. She was hostilely told that she was violating federal regulations (which she was not) and that it would be brought to the captain. Jan refused to take him out until he woke up a little later. When the plane landed, the filght attendant had Jen escorted off of the plane by armed guards to see the head of airport security. When the security personnel heard Jen’s side of the story they where fuming at the flight attendant and very apologetic toward Ms. Starks.
Now Jen Starks is using this experience to fight for ‘special treatment’ towards parents with little ones. Should we get it? I don’t know if it should be mandated. But frankly, I am a little offended that we need to ask for it. Are people really so selfish that when they see some poor mom struggling with two small kids and a bunch of gear that they butt right in front of her thinking Me first. I am more important than them. I mean we are all going on the same plane and its not leaving until we are all on it. What is the rush? I do, however, think that flight attendants need to be stripped of a little of their ‘supreme authority’. As you can see in this case and a few other high profile cases involving children, some of them like to abuse it. And their bullying usuallyseems to be directed at moms and small children. I don’t think that people should bend over backwards for us. I mean we knew what we were getting into when we booked the tickets. Our family actually puts off many trips that we have the time and money for just because we don’t want to go through the ordeal of flying with the kids.