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Family Ties: Airport Meltdown

You hear about kids that have meltdowns on planes and in airports and you feel for the parents, not ever really believing it will be you. And, then it is. My daughter is a trooper and a traveler, my son is a different story. After three trips without incident, we never could have anticipated what happened to us.

My charming darling who points out every airplane he sees in the sky pitched the mother of all fits as our family was about to go through airport security. At 20 months, he unleashed a guttural howl that could peel paint off walls and make a person's eyes bleed. With one hand on my umbrella stroller and the other wrapped around my flailing child, I flew across the airport looking for an elevator to take him outside where I figured he would fall asleep. But in fumbling for an exit, an airport employee approached my son and ordered him to be quiet. Giving us both the evil eye, she told me he was terrorizing travelers and that I was a lousy mother. A kind woman in her sixties came up behind her asking if I needed any help just as the elevator doors shut and my out-of-sorts son and I descended. A few moments later, she tracked us down, told me the airport staffer had been out of line and noticing my dwindling milk supply, offered to go buy my son a refill. The woman, a grandma, who had just dropped her granddaughter off for a flight, returned with milk, a muffin, and encouraging words for my son. In the process, he calmed down.

Not knowing if we'd missed our flight, she checked its boarding status. We went back upstairs as I braced myself and she told me we could stay with her if we were unable to fly. I gave her a huge hug and expressed my gratitude before filing in line behind a hundred people to go back through security. To hear what happened,


We met my husband and daughter just in time to board the plane, and then we sat on the runway for thirty minutes, before being told that everyone was being deplaned as a storm had come in and there were dozens of planes stuck on the runway. After exiting, my husband and I discussed the possibility of driving home for thirteen hours through the storm as we didn't know how long our son would last at the airport. We stocked up on beverages and snacks and while he took my daughter and proceeded to the gate, I strolled my son down the people movers determined to put him to sleep. It worked and we re-boarded, only to sit on the runway for another 45 minutes. At the time we should have been back home unpacking, we finally took off. And, with an hour left of the flight our lil guy woke up.

I spent the next sixty minutes reading books like I have never read before — acting out the characters and flipping the pages back and forth to hold his interest. All the fluids caught up with him and I felt a bit of a leak on my leg, but stayed seated knowing that if I got up, it would be over. I have never been more exuberant or exhausted than when the plane touched down at SFO. As we taxied, having not made a peep during the flight, my wild child waved to the other landing planes. As we exited he high fived the pilot. Though we won't be flying again until next Summer, in addition to giving me a few gray hairs and wrinkles, the experience strengthened the bond between my son and me. As a mother, the piercing stares, shaking heads, and opinions of a stranger don't matter because the only person you are focused on and committed to is your child.

Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
babies do not cry for no reason. They cry to communicate. That woman should have had the decency to at least help, or not say anything at all. My parents were lucky. I never once cried or complained on an airplane, even as an infant. My mom recalls I only once threw an all out tantrum. I was at home, I was 1 1/2 year old -- and after that night, I never did it again. I was super well behaved. As was my brother. But crying on a plane doesn't mean your baby is bad, there is obviously something wrong. I think any adult, especially parents should know enough, and keep their stupid comments (all but the helpful kind) to themselves. If and when I am a mom, if someone DARES insult my parenting skills or my child, there is the simple "f*ck you".
Lanfear Lanfear 9 years
This definately is a "some people screwing it up for the majority" situation. I will not look annoyed at you when you enter the plane with a well behaved child but I have seen too many "well its a baby they cry sometimes what can I do" parents to not be bothered when I hear them scream. A little eye-rolling should be allowed in the situation even if you do everything you can to calm the child - its still noise that gets on my nerves.
kw-980 kw-980 9 years
before becoming a parent, i got annoyed with parents who "couldnt control their kids" but now that i am one, it is a different story. however, there is a big difference btwn an infant crying and a kid kicking the back of another passenger's seat...and before i became a mom, i always brought earplugs...really makes a difference!
phatE phatE 9 years
LilRuck - How dare you suggest that because someone doesn't want to get trapped on a plane with a SCREAMING child, they were raised improperly, and don't have patience or compassion for children, or the rest of the world. Get your head out of the sand, I know for me personally, I love children, and if I were to have seen Lilsugar, I would have stopped. I think everyone commenting on this with a different view would have too.. People are just saying that it's absolute torture to be stuck on a flight with a screaming child, and asking for parents to take some responsibility for it. If you are, great, but the times i have flown people haven't, and the parents just ignored it, or were like, "kids, what can you do".. That to me is not showing respect for others, and more times than not that's what I have seen. I mentioned above that a few people out there give everyone a bad rap in this, and it's because they don't do anything to control their child. Flying today is bad enough, I think it's selfish for you as a parent to get on a plane and wait for your child to stop itself from crying and expect people to be ok with it.. Especially when plenty of people have major anxiety about flying as it is.. In lilsugars situation, I said above that the woman should have been reported for her behavior.. The employee was rude and disrespectful when she was obviously trying to do something about the situation.. The employee should have been productive in helping the situation, instead of just biting her head off.. Bottom line, I am not really talking about her when I post my replies, I am responding to the posts where people are actually ON the airplane and act like we're the ones with the problem if it stresses us out that your kid is screaming.. If you see someone drop their bags in an airport, more often than not people try to help them pick it up.. If you're getting tons of stares when you have your little one, then maybe you should realize why.. It doesn't mean the world is evil, it means people have had BAD experiences.. I am willing to bet alot of them have been parents at one point too, it's just not really about that, it's about respecting others, instead of pulling the they've only been on the earth 20 months card.. No one is questioning the children, they are questioning the way the parents RESPOND to the children. If the parents are trying, and it's not working, then that's different, but I am usually with the ones who just give up, or laugh about it. I am usually with parents who don't know how to control their children, and that is the circumstance I am referring to. Sorry if this is rude, LilRucks post just really ticked me off. How dare anyone question character of people who are weary of sitting next to a screaming baby on a plane.. I don't agree with the attitudes, and glares, I think there are better ways to help the situation.. What I have the issue with is people who EXPECT everyone else (on a plane, 100 or so people) to not only acclimate to a situation that can REALLY stress someone out but also be happy about it.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I'm always sad at how annoyed people can get at little members of society who have virtually no way of communicating or expressing their feelings, anxiety, etc. It seems to me that more people give stares to the parents, as in, "Do Something!" or as if to imply that if the parent had better discipline techniques, the child would be behaving. While they're playing the blame game, maybe they should blame their own parents for not teaching them to have a little patience and compassion (not just towards children, but everything in life!). lilsugar I especially feel for you because you said your son was 20 months old. Talk about a tough age to discipline or explain things to! You could have a completely laid back child, with the sunniest disposition, and all it takes is a delayed nap, and they turn into someone who you don't even recognize! You are physically unable to make them stop screaming, they have to stop themselves, and that can be hard when you've only been on the planet 20 months.
Moms Moms 9 years
My mom who has four kids always says that "every child has their day" and could never understand why people (especially other parents) stare and glare at one another or their children. Learning that at an early age, I always smile at the harried mom who is trying her best to calm her kid pitching a fit at the mall. Or, offer a sticker to a child wigging out in line. When I tried to hand the amazing grandma who helped me at the airport some money for the milk and muffin, she said, "Just pay it forward." I fully intend to do that.
bessa bessa 9 years
It is true, some kids are brats, and their parents are to blame. However, it is AWFUL to be on a plane worrying about your baby/child bothering all the other passengers. I think all parents traveling with kids should be given the benefit of the doubt and cut as much slack as possible - they are probably trying, praying, playing, and cajoling - doing anyting to get their child to not be a nuisance to the other passengers. I know I am. And fortunately, I've never had a problem (except 1 minute of crying when I stood up with my baby daughter and hit her head on the airplane ceiling!). . As for the airport employee: People are awful and rude and have bad days. Hopefully s/he was having a bad day. It certainly is not going to help your son calm down to have a stranger yell at him! It's only going to upset mommy - which is not going to help baby calm down! . I must admit, I don't think I was this compassionate before I had my own children. That's life. I never became a model wedding invitee until I planned my own wedding...etc. That's why Grandmas - who've been moms AND feel compassion for their own daughters - are the best!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I love hearing stories about people helping people in these sorts of times. In airports it's so easy to just run past everyone else and not bother to help someone struggling. What a wonderful grandma that lady must be. I do agree that people need a little patience. I mean really airplanes, flights all that can be scary even for adults. Maybe if we took a cue from the grandma and Helped out with screaming children instead of ignoring them or getting irritated the whole situation might be better
sofi sofi 9 years
Brendelwoman- you make an excellent point. I agree that older generations would be very disappointed at the manners and regard children are taught these days. I can't get over the way some of my children's friends talk to their parents and other adults. I would most definitely get annoyed at a mom who was on a plane with rambunctious children who just sat there and chuckled about it and had a 'kids will be kids' attitude. I am very apologetic when we cause any disruption and for the most part people understand and trust I am trying to do something about it.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
I got a little teary eyed reading about the kindness of that stranger. How incredibly nice of her. I wish we all did things like that. I'll just say I have never flown with my kids. It seems way too stressful and I know I would feel so pressured to keep the kids and babies quiet. I definitely can see both sides, though. The parents of the crying baby are stressed out and there isn't much they can do, while the other passengers don't want to be on a plane with grating noise. Sometimes I think there is starting to be more backlash because there are parents out there not doing everything to make the ride pleasant for everyone else and if you were to ask older generations what they think of our parenting skills most would say we are too permissive and don't require kids to have certain manners in public. I tend to agree with that sentiment - I am appalled by how much we tolerate during church or at restaurants.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
a little kindness goes a long way. for me, the stares of others and the comments do matter because my other children are old enough to understand that they are being judged for the actions of their sister (severely autistic). as for your toddler "terrorizing travelers", i doubt anyone is that fragile.
phatE phatE 9 years
it just goes to show you it works both ways.. and i don't think people expect a library type atmosphere on a plane. that's a bit of an exaggeration..
jessie jessie 9 years
what a blessing for the gramma to show up and help you out a bit! :) that employee must of had a stick up her ass that day, shoulda whacked her with it to knock some sense into her... as much as we would love to have our kids quiet on a plane we can't predict that. and there are times we have to fly whether we want to or not. we take that risk, hoping our child will be calm, and you take that risk knowing that the flight isn't a library. if we could travel private, trust me we would!!!! do you think we want to put up with crappy attitudes, and stares? it does wonders for our egos..:oy: we do the best we can with what we are given.
sofi sofi 9 years
That employee should be trained to ASSIST people with young children not berate them- why didn't someone report them? Glad you found ONE woman in the whole airport who cared enough to help you out. I always fear the meltdown and have had plenty of nervous flights, but there always seems to be someone who understands and extends themselves- even with a quick smile or hello to my child. The children are feeling uncomfortable in the situation as well as the parents- so a little distraction from another passenger could do the trick. The time it takes to roll your eyes or make a rude comment is the time it takes to offer a snack, some help, or a quick 'hello, what's your name" "cool toy".
phatE phatE 9 years
while i think the woman who attacked you for your child having a meltdown was completely out of line, i do see why people automatically stress out when seeing a baby on a plane.. i am not excusing her behavior, or the behavior of anyone who is flat out rude.. however, there is a stigma behind traveling babies for a reason, and other mothers who can't handle the situation are blowing it for the mothers who are trying. the times i have traveled with a baby on flight have been hell, and unfortunately the mom and dad have either thought it was cute, or had just given up.. there really is nothing worse than being trapped in the middle seat, on an airplane with a screaming child sitting right behind you.. many people have huge anxiety about flying which escalates the level of hell for them, especially if there is turbulence.. don't get me wrong,i love little ones, and would never ever ever react like the people in your article.. i would have probably reported the employee for being completely out of line.. (she obviously did nothing to benefit the situation).. I just am giving the perspective of the other side.. When I spot a baby getting on my plane, I am weary of them and and still consider myself one of the "annoyed" ones whether it be right or wrong..
shoogerbooger shoogerbooger 9 years
Wow, what a nice woman. I remember traveling with my son when he was just 6 months old. First time parent, by myself (because we were flying to meet my husband), and without my son making a peep, people were giving me looks like- "Your baby better not start screaming!" And there were several moments were I struggled alone, trying to balance my son in one arm while folding the stroller to go through security, and people gave me ugly looks for slowing down the line (instead of offering to help!) After becoming a parent and having these experiences, I ALWAYS try to assist other mothers when I see that they are struggling. I think you realize just how hard it is once you become a parent yourself. I hate to admit that before having my son, I was one of the annoyed people in the airport! : (
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 9 years
nevada if ever i am on a plane and my son throws a tantrum i hope you are sitting next to me if my fiance is not there :wink:, and also i agree with you and yaya people do need to be a little compassionate no one can control what a kid will do next, i always symphatize with parents and their screaming babies
YayaOzoHead YayaOzoHead 9 years
Oh man, I feel for you. I've been through the stress of wondering how my child will act at the airport and on the plane. Then when the tantrum strikes, all you want to do is quiet the kid because you know how much it sucks to have to hear that. As parents, WE KNOW what a pain it is to hear a child and we will TRY ANYTHING to calm the child. Given that, others need to realize it will be YOU one day in our shoes so have some sympathy because I will bite your head off if you try to tell me something.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 9 years
Wow -- I never would have risked missing my flight by trying to get outside. I would have sooner brought the wrath of the other passengers down on me!
nevadamtnbear nevadamtnbear 9 years
Wow, just wow. Kids are kids, and every once in a while they will have a meltdown, tantrum, etc. Even the best behaved children. First, the employee was a complete *bleep* its not like you were not taking the appropriate measures to not be troublesome to the other travelers. For Lord's sake, have a speck of patience and compassion. As for the other travellers disapproving looks and stares, that just irks me. While I haven't had to experience it personally yet on a flight, I can't imagine anything worse for a parent than having a child pinch a fit in the middle of a flight or airport. It's not like you have a lot of control over the situation and on a plan, you don't really have a lot of options. Its too bad people are so un-compassionate and fear a child's tantrum so much. My son is now almost 4, he's a trooper of a traveller. But when I hear a kid crying on a flight, my heart cries for the parents. Most of the time, except when I'm just overly exhausted from business on the road, I'll intentionally choose to sit next to a family with young children. You know, I may end up sitting next to a screaming kid for a couple hours, but I'm okay with it. I am always willing to pitch in and help find something, fill a bottle, offer an extra set of hands, because I know how stressful it can by flying with young kids, even if they are perfect angels. The frightening thing to me is this what seems to be a growing prejudice/animosity by the airlines, airport employees, fellow travellers and TSA as to children who may have an episode. That scares me more than a kid crying, this fear of the "what if." So sad.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I bet you were SO glad to make it home! My normally really well behaved daughter pitched an intense fit right before boarding a plane from CO to TX. I could hear people talking about us and looking at each other with these "looks". She calmed down and didn't make a peep on the flight, so I was spared. I was praying silently the WHOLE flight.
Sugasuga29 Sugasuga29 9 years
Although the airport employee had no business speaking out like that, I understand the stares and eye rolls of other passengers. There is nothing like the screams and shrieks of a small child to make you feel like you are perpetually hearing fingernails being scraped down a blackboard. Even though unintentionally, you really are inflicting your child on other people. The worst flights I have ever been on were the ones with small children on them--you always run the risk of having to cope with their tantrums.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
aww what a nice story! What a nice lady. Glad everything turned out at least half decent for you all. :-D
pinkprincess1101 pinkprincess1101 9 years
i agree imcs
imcs imcs 9 years
god always sends angels to help us during our most trying times... that little old lady was one of his angels.
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