Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

The Baby Plane

Looks innocent enough, right?
Looks innocent enough, right?

Picture this: late evening and you’ve been traveling since noon, east coast time, headed for the west coast. You feel grimy. Why? Because planes, even if you showered 10 minutes ago, always feel grimy. They are long flying tubes filled with people who cough, sneeze and fart into their seats, and when those people get off of the plane, you get onto that same plane and it’s one of those wash, rinse repeat things, but without the wash part.

My husband and I flew from Tampa to Denver and then caught a small regional plane for the last leg our journey to Oregon. The baby plane. I don’t mean the plane was small, though it was, I mean the plane’s passenger population contained at least four children under the age of two. I know when I see a little child at the gate, that child will be sitting directly behind me. I know this because I have some sort of weird baby plane karma with the universe. And last night’s flight is the case in point.

I sat directly in front of a young mother holding a squirming, exhausted and up past her bedtime, 18-month-old. The kid looked innocent enough, smiling and cooing, pulling herself up to peer over the top edge of my seat and presenting that angelic little face that God gives them so parents won’t pass them off to the next band of roving gypsies when baby goes into evil twin mode. And then the plane took off. Sweet Baby behind me turned into the devils spawn. Her little legs kicked the back of my seat with the gusto of soccer player, as she tried to escape from her mother’s embrace and terrorize the plane. This kid had a scream so high-pitched that had there been any glass on board, it would have shattered. Sweet Baby may have a future as an operatic soprano–she sure has the lungs for it.

Once the devil’s spawn started crying and shrieking, the rest of the babies on the plane joined in. It was a regular cacophony of screech and scream, punctuated by the cooing of a handful of mothers, helpless to stop the conspiracy. My husband said “You know, I feel just like that.” Me too, if tantrums were allowed for adults, I would have had one, right there in my seat. I would have stomped my feet, whined about the noise and wailed that I wanted to be home and in my own bed, surrounded by peace and quiet. But like all the adults on the plane, I kept the thought of those actions to myself and suffered the chaos and grime of the flying tube on its way to Oregon.

It’s hard enough to be a parent, and harder still to be a parent on a plane where you are helpless in controlling the determination of such a small human being. As the plane was landing, all of the babies stopped crying. Clearly the whole thing had been planned. They probably met at the changing table in one of the airport restrooms and plotted their little baby tyranny.

As I waited for luggage, I saw the young mother who sat behind me with Sweet Baby, who was now an angel again. She looked at me with that cute face, smiled and rested her head on mommy’s shoulder as they walked away. I was compelled to tell the mom, that she was a good mom. Really I thought she should receive some kind of award for hanging on to a kid whose only objective on that flight was to see if she could burst any eardrums.

The proliferation of the human race depends upon women who are incapable of thinking about how all babies have an evil twin just waiting for the right opportunity to come out. Usually on planes or in grocery stores. I imagine young women fantasizing about having children and tsk, tsking when they see children throwing tantrums in the market. “That will never be my child,” they think. By child number two, when the kid is rolling in the aisles of Safeway screaming, young mommy will simply step over them to get to the tomato sauce. That’s just the reality of parenthood.

It does take a village, and sometimes it is the villager’s job to just endure while conspiring innocents screech and carry on, and chagrined parents do the best that they can. The only acceptable revenge is the mantra that you hear the more experienced mothers utter throughout their child’s life: “just wait until you grow up and have kids!”

Do you have weird baby plane karma? Everybody has a baby plane story–what’s yours?


Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

15 thoughts on “The Baby Plane

  1. I love that you support the mothers in this. Crying babies are miserable on a plane, no doubt. But the parents of the child are no happier than the rest of the passengers. In fact, they’re worse off because not only do they have to deal with trying to calm their child, they have to feel the heat from angry passengers. Sometimes parents need to fly with kids. It’s life. We have to deal with it. It’s a good time for the rest of us to put our headphones and music to use. 🙂

    (But kudos to you for surviving that flight with your sense of humor intact!)

  2. I’ve yet to take my daughter onto a plane and fortunately she’s 14 this year, but yeah I’ve been through the crying children on board, Which is why I always have noise cancelling headphones and earplugs If necessary.

    ‘Cute eyes so we don’t give them to passing gypsies ‘XD had me laughing XD

  3. Since I’m Canadian and I live in the US I take my kids on planes. And I was one of those Mom’s trying to stop the crying child from making people want to jump off the plane. I was red in the face, upset and it was my first baby. I had no idea what to do but I was trying everything under the sun. And yes upon landing he finally fell asleep. I was exhausted he was exhausted. Luckily both of my guys have become pros so now they just smile cutely and make friends with whoever is willing. But let me say it is hardest on the parent. Thanks to all those who sat around me and assured me it’s ok, I’m a parent too.

    1. Parents should get some kind of “baby plane manual” or something…I would think that a fussy kid on a plane is probably just as hard on the parent as it is the kid! The woman sitting behind me had the patience of a saint and probably a good kid, who when not flying in one of the grimy airplane tubes, really was a little angel!

  4. I did notice a small overhead bin on that flight with a sign that said ‘Infants’. At first I thought it must be filled with blankets and diapers, but as the flight wore on I couldn’t help but imagine it being a safe, padded, sound proof, little cubby hole to house the cacophanous quartet 😉

  5. I’ve flown with my son once. Once. His brother? Never. I used to be one of those adults clenching my fists and biting my tongue from telling the parents to get their uncontrollable babies off my plane, until I was one of those parents. Oh, it is so much worse being one of those parents…

    1. The parents really have the rougher time of it, don’t they? Fussy kid yes, but fussy parent, totally stressed from trying to control the uncontrollable while other passengers make dagger eyes at them. In a perfect world there would be a nice, quiet, dimly lit, lullaby playing, (un-grimy) nursery on board the plane!

  6. We never flew when our boys were babies, the bus was bad enough. The problem with planes is the cabin pressure on little baby ears. The rest of us suck a sweet but babies can’t do that and when it hurts they scream. Because their ears are smaller it hurts them more.

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