Monday, April 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Traveling Parents with Children Less Than 4 Years Old

Good evening,

Although I find your children horribly adorable, wonderful, and realize that they are probably, far and above the smartest children – so much so that they probably are those little wunderkind reading on those late night infomercials, I would like to pen a few advance notices for those of you who gleefully bring your little ones into the world of the traveler, and hope that you might find some advice on how to make your trip a more pleasant and peaceful one:

1. Yes, your son/daughter is great. The fact that they still shit themselves however is an indicator that they still have some work to do. The fact that they do this on airplanes indicates that obviously the apple juice you have been pumping down their gullet all day is not a good idea.

2. I understand that eye sight is developing at young ages. This does not give license for your Johnny or Susie to stare at the fellow traveler whilst drooling and coughing up chunks of Zwieback cookies onto the fellow travelers computer. Switch to water and saltines, and kill two birds with one stone – have you ever tried saying your first word with a mouth full of saltines?

3. Airports are not playgrounds. Believe it or not, some of us live and work there a large amount of time. Airports are more like cathedrals. Be reverent. Be awed. Be quiet.

4. First words are wonderful. Learning how to say those words in an inside voice is even better. Hearing “hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi” repetitively at a tone that is loud enough and shrill enough to damage ears protected by the newest Bose technology is neither pleasant nor cute.

5. Of course children that age need to exercise. This does not consist of you holding them up in the air to push the attendant call button, letting them exercise their legs by kicking the back of seats, or allowing them to run up and down the aisle. This consists of making them walk all the way to your gate, taking the stairs, and not trying to wedge them into a stroller onto an escalator.

6. The term “lap child” is the equivalent of “safe nuclear waste” or “good collateral damage” – there is no such thing as a lap child, nor does it imply that your child should feel free to wander with their toys, food, arms, drool, etc into my lap. I chose the window seat to see out the window. Next time, if you want your child to enjoy the window, and the aisle, buy both seats, and we can ignore “lap child” all together.

7. Being a parent of two former toddlers, I understand that you are tired, irritable, worn out, and ready for a break. This is your fault, not the other innocent parents who have lived through your hell and survived. Take your kids on a trip in the car, or better yet, get a swingset – Disney is not going anywhere, and take it from a kid who was there every year until the age of 5 – they won’t remember it.

8. The toys today are exciting, cool, and yes, those with batteries, are annoying. Remove the batteries from the Police Car, the Fire Truck, the Doll that coos, the Puppy that barks. Six am flights don’t mean because Timmy or Erica are awake then everyone gets to listen to their favorite toys.

9. Breast Feeding is a wonderful and healthy thing. Do it somewhere where that wonderful and healthy experience is shared with you and the child. Particularly with children that can walk and request to be fed. Two words – Pump/Store.

10. Finally, I love children. There is nothing I love more than spending time with my children and the children of others. I love taking them places and doing things with them, and appreciate their amazement at new worlds around them. Respect that just about everyone you pass in the airport at one time or another who is older than you has procreated, and in most cases, done so successfully. When we look at you with downturned eyes, we have sympathy – and we hope that you are seated well away from us. Just because we don’t want to be next to you does not mean that we don’t love you. We do – we wish you luck.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and hope that these few pointers will help you on your way to successful travels.



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