Mr M and I had been holidaying in France for the last couple of weeks and on our last leg of our trip home (Singapore to Sydney) there it was; a toddler who was not coping with the flight and would every now and then break into a screaming fit.
It was an overnight flight and I was hoping to get some sleep to readjust my body clock to ward off jet lag. But hey, I’m in economy with a couple of hundred other people so my ability to control all possible variables really does just fall into the realm of wishful thinking. And I’m well aware of that.
But that didn’t stop one passenger from telling off the mother of said crying toddler. “Can you please get your child to stop screaming? I’m trying to get to sleep because I have to go to work today.”
Wait, what? The plane is landing at 7am and this woman expects to go to work at 9am? Good luck lady.
I nudged Mr M and asked him if he heard the exchange. “Nope,” he says. “I switched on the noise cancelling on my headphones.” Ah, genius.
Which got me thinking. If this woman has decided to cut her time between landing and working so fine that sleep is vital why not buy some earplugs, along with your headphones, take a sleeping pill (and possibly a chill pill) and hope for the best?
Personally, a screaming child isn’t the most annoying thing about air travel. It’s the passenger who sits next to you and encroaches on your space. And BO. Perhaps we should create a section on a plane for broad shouldered men who also let their legs fall to the side and take over any leg-room you think you had. Or perhaps that’s discriminatory.
Some time later I ventured to the back of the plane to stretch my legs and there was the mother holding her child doing that swaying thing parents do. She looked shattered. I wasn’t sure if she had been crying or was just tired but she definitely looked defeated.
“Your son is very cute”, I said.
“Not everyone thinks so”, she replied.
We chatted for a while and she, just like I, hope that the children will not fuss on a plane. Sometimes it’s beyond your control. No matter how much you try to placate your child, they just want to have a moment.
What I really want to know is what does anyone who tells a parent off think will happen? Do you think that the parent doesn’t already know that a crying child is inconveniencing other passengers? Do you think venting your spleen will make it abundantly clear what magic words will stop a crying child?
No, for anyone who tells off a parent the only message you are sending is that you think you are more important and think you have the right to shame a parent. Having to hear you telling a parent off upsets me. Why do I have to share my space with someone who is selfish, lacks any sympathy and quite frankly thinks it’s okay to call out across a cabin and cause a scene? Because that of course doesn’t disturb anyone. The irony is breathtaking.