An Open Letter to Humans Traveling or Working on Airplanes (from parents of small children)


Dearest fellow airline travelers and esteemed flight attendants,

Yes, here we are, boarding your flight with our small children in tow, their prefrontal cortexes gleefully flashing their bizarre "Under Construction" signs.  Some of you smile and wave, which makes us want to kiss the filthy airbridge you walk on, some of you scowl and turn away, some of you don your poker faces and leave us to guess what that means.  For the sake of human relations, we present to all of you the following manifesto:

We don't want to be here either.  There is no alternate "parenting universe" in which it is enjoyable or desirable to be trapped in a seat half the size of a bathtub with a toddler and a preschooler who are expected to remain on their bottoms for 2 hours and 27 minutes.  You are not the only one who is disappointed that this is happening today. But sometimes, life happens and we find ourselves in unfortunate circumstances despite the fact that we would rather be somewhere far, far away getting cavities filled.

We are not the horrible people responsible for the downfall of humanity that you imagine us to be.  We are actually decent parents, at least as decent as they come, which is debatable anyway.  We are doing the best we can under pretty stressful circumstances.  Some of us have kids with special needs, and often you can't tell by looking. Some of us have babies with colic, and there's really (really!) nothing we can do about the crying.  Most of us have children who have missed a nap, and we're praying to the sleepytime gods that they will crash before their ears start popping.

We need to be cut a little slack.  If our toddler is walking up and down the aisle because the alternative is screaming his lungs out and he accidentally (or not so accidentally) brushes up against you, you probably are not going to contract Scarlett Fever.  You don't have to smile, but maybe you also don't have to shoot daggers into our chests through your fiery red eyes?  Just maybe.  And flight attendants, we understand that you have safety rules to enforce.  But if you could do so without also communicating that you wish our children had never been born, that would really be appreciated etiquette.

Believe it or not, our children belong to you too.  We're assuming that you are in favor of society living on.  These short little crazies are how that's going to happen.  Everything that you value, everything that you hope for the future: they are the ones who will be carrying those torches.  Not only were you once just like them, but they are also intricately woven together with you, frankly whether you like it or not.  We all belong to each other, and we have to believe it if we don't want civilization going down the crapper.  You don't have to be "a kid person" but please check the grudge in your heart and remind yourself that these are real human beings too, and believe with us that they're going to make the world a better place.

Sincerely yours,

Parents Eagerly Anticipating A Glass of Wine

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)