By Melissa Hall Roy of Beyond Mommying
When we were living abroad, part of our relocation package through hubby’s company included airplane tickets back to the states to visit our family. A few times a year, I would hop on an airplane with just my girls and make the 9 hour journey back “home.”
Between our home visits and our traveling all over Europe, I got really good at airports. I could quickly and easily get through security even with my toddler, baby, car seats and carry-ons and no assistance. I would wait near the gate because I knew we’d get called to board first and I liked having the extra time to install the girls’ car seats and get everyone settled.
But we didn’t get called first because we were a “young family”; we also got to fly business class. I’ll never forget the looks on the other passengers’ faces (mostly businessmen and uppity-ups) when they saw me plopping my girls’ car seats in their business class seats. To make things “worse,” Honeybun had to sit with a stranger across the aisle from me so that I could sit next to Sugarplum (even though she was under two, she always had her own seat and both girls always used their car seats on the plane).
But not once I did I bring or offer other passengers goody bags for flying with my kids. Not once did I apologize for my girls’ presence on an airplane. And now even with 4 kids, I don’t plan to jump on the trend of handing other passengers goody bags for flying with my kids. And for good reason.
The trend of apologizing for our kids’ mere existence is ridiculous. Kids learn by doing, and keeping my kids locked up at home until they’re adults will do society no favors. I take my kids everywhere I go and they’ve learned how to behave, not only because I expect them to, but also because they are given the opportunity to. And it’s not any different when we fly. I expect my kids to behave on the plane and give them the opportunity to act appropriately rather than expecting them to be raging lunatics.
Here’s why I won’t hand out goody bags for flying with my kids:
1. My kids have a right to be there as much as you do.
You don’t give me a goody bag when you come on the plane drunk. You don’t give me a goody bag when you spread your newspaper out all over my face or when you fall asleep on my shoulder. You don’t give me a goody bag along with the nasty looks, deep sighs and eye rolls as you sit down next to me and my baby.
2. I paid for my seat on that airplane just like you did.
We all have somewhere we’re trying to go and none of us likes being stuck inside a metal tube any more than the next person. So I take a stand — let’s just get this over with — and often offer the advice to other parents flying for the first time: “Don’t worry about what happens during the flight; once you get there it won’t really matter.”
3. I promise I’m doing my best to keep my kids under control.
Despite popular belief, not all children are hellians on the airplane. My children are well-versed in airplane travel and generally very well-behaved (though I can’t say they’ve never been loud or kicked the seat in front of them).
And we parents aren’t all inconsiderate, entitled, rude people, either. I don’t need to give you a goody bag for flying with my kids as a pre-apology for what my kids may or may not do on the plane because I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure they act appropriately, just like I do in every other public place we go.
4. I want them to sit quietly and nicely as much as you do.
Trust me, no parent wants their kids to be loud, obnoxious or wild on an airplane. It is a thousand times more stressful for me to deal with my misbehaving kids than it is for you to have to be near them.
This is why I come prepared with lots of toys and goodies to get my kids through the flight as painlessly as possible. And this is why I bend our usual strict rules about screen time, snacks and juice. Really, I just want everyone to be happy.
5. I don’t have room for goody bags.
If you ever see me in the airport, I’m the one with 4 kids, 3 car seats, a stroller and 5 bazillion carry-on bags. And while I’ve gotten really good at packing those carry-on bags and only have the necessities (you know: diapers, snacks, change of clothes in case of accidents, headphones, neck pillows, toys…) it’s still a crap ton of stuff when you’re talking about 6 people. Plus, most of those people are small and incapable of carrying their portion of the load.
So where exactly do you expect me put these magical goody bags you think you deserve for flying with my kids?
6. Your happiness is not my #1 concern when I’m flying with my kids.
You might think that everyone else in the world floats around your coattails and unicorn farts, but the truth is, my kids are my world and I will worry about them 100% of the time, whether on an airplane or at home. I don’t care if you’re miserable; it’s not my responsibility to make you happy.
And don’t make the assumption I’m on that airplane because we’re going to Disney World. Don’t assume we’re on vacation, traveling for fun or sight-seeing. I have been on my share of bereavement flights, flying to bury a loved one and trying to keep control of my emotions and my kids.
And there are many other reasons people fly with their kids for more than vacation: moving away from a long-time home, getting to see a deployed military family member, going back to see a sick or dying friend… Just because I have my kids along doesn’t mean my journey is joyous.
7. You’re a grown up.
I know that a lot of people think this is the worst reason, but I’ll tell you why it’s the most important: you’re not only a grown up person who is capable of handling stress and uncomfortable situations (like being contained inside a small space for hours upon hours), but you’re also a role model for my kids.
Trust me, my kids are watching you. They see everything you do and they pick up on your body language and attitude. If you smile at them, talk to them and are relaxed around them, they’ll think they made a new friend and be over the moon. But on the other hand, if you’re grumpy, aggravated and do everything you can to ignore my kids, they’ll pick up on your stress and think that flying is a miserable, horrible experience and will act accordingly.
While I understand many parents have adopted the handing out of goody bags when flying with their kids as a good-faith gesture and ice breaker, I personally think it sends the wrong message. It says, once again, that parents and children are not equal to business and single people. It sends the message that we are sorry for having children and I, for one, will not apologize for my children.
This post was originally published on Beyond Mommying.
About the Author
Melissa is a homeschooling, ballerina mommy of four and lives by the motto “Life is never boring when you’re never alone, but I know somewhere out there, there is life Beyond Mommying.” She shares her parenting adventures on her blog Beyond Mommying. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.