Friday, April 9, 2010

Living in a child-centric world

Going to Florida on vacation necessitated getting on an airplane with three children. Over the years we have traveled quite a lot and have developed some sort of travel routine with our kids. Most of the time they behave quite well, assuming we pack enough toys, snacks and a portable dvd player.
On the flight home, Y and I were sitting in the front while A and my husband sat behind us. Baby M didn't have a seat and got passed back and forth. Then Y and I met our seatmate. It was a middle aged woman who did not seem too excited to be sitting next to Y. She moved her Louis Vuitton bag out of the way and asked me if I could move Y's foot because it was too close to her. When that did not work, she asked if I could take off his shoes. I obliged with a smile and did my best to keep Y busy without bothering her too much.
There was a couple with two children sitting in front of us, and it seems their bags in the overhead compartment had some drinks in them, which leaked onto this woman's bag. She was besides herself. To top it off, when I was passing a drink to the back, a few drops of water spilled onto her sweater. She jumped out of her seat and kept yelling "I'm wet, I am totally wet'" while her husband sitting across from her checked her sweater and told her there was nothing there and she was overreacting.
Finally she switched seats with her husband. I apologized to her husband and he just shrugged and said- "It's just kids." Then he confirmed that she never had any children, which didn't come as a surprise to me. He sat down next to me, plugged in his ipod and spent the rest of the flight on his laptop completely unfazed by my kids' presence.
Part of me was annoyed that this woman could not handle sitting next to us. After all, they are just kids and were not even acting too crazy. Then I wondered if I live in a world that is so focused on children, that I don't realize not everyone finds kids so endearing. I am so used to noise, spills, etc that it doesn't faze me but I do understand that it can be annoying for someone else to endure. Then I thought how getting on a plane is always a gamble. You can be stuck next to a screaming baby, an overweight person who monopolizes the armrests, an annoying woman who won't stop yammering or someone clumsy who spills their drink on you. That is the gamble and joy of airline travel.
I am still unsure what to make of the woman next to us. She obviously had some issues of her own. But it did sensitize me a bit to think of others and their needs. Kids will be kids and cannot be expected to sit still like little angels, but I can still do my best to make the travel environment as pleasant as possible. After all, not everyone sees drool and cookie crumbs on their shirt as a badge of honor :)

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