Monday, December 7, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

After my November post about train riders, I feel as if I would be remiss if I didn't mention my recent plane trip...

Here's the thing: I am a teacher. An elementary teacher. I have been an elementary teacher for a long time and I know I have that "teacher look" about me. This causes various mothers to sit their children near me. It happens almost every time; I can count on it. (The other distinct possibility is SuperSmellyGuy, but that one needs its own blog post). Meanwhile, my husband is comfortably settled across the aisle, his headphones on, with a quiet, polite, low-maintenance business-type guy next to him.

I need to first point out that I truly love kids. I love talking to them. But the ones that sit by me on airplanes are in a different category. You have seen these kids. They are the ones shimmying up the displays and climbing into the refrigerated dessert cases at the grocery store.

The great thing about a train ride is that you can get up and walk around. And moving to the next car is a possibility. On the plane: not so much. You are pretty much strapped in for the duration.

I'm all excited about my impending vacation. I'm going to meet my brother and his family at the HappiestPlaceOnEarth, so I try really hard to put myself in that happy place as the mother near me, helps her children set up their personal DVD players.

The little boy looks like he's about eight, but the movie he's watching is most certainly rated R--or worse. It's some extremely violent and bloody story with an abundance of Humvees. The little girl is about three, and she doesn't have or doesn't like her headphones, so her movie is playing some musical cartoon very loudly. The mother has obviously gone to her happy place, because it doesn't seem to occur to her that the other passengers might prefer a little quiet jazz, instead.

Then the little boy starts questioning his mother (loudly, of course) about what the flight attendant had meant when she was talking about the oxygen masks coming down. His mom replies (casually, but loudly), "She meant if something happens to the plane and the cabin pressure changes or something." (I see a man nearby clutch his arm rest and pop what could only be a Valium). Definitely not a helpful plane comment as the captain has just pointed out the impending turbulence.

At one point, the mom gets up to go to the bathroom and the boy starts slamming his hand on his DVD player. (I'm thinking to myself, the studies about letting kids watch violent movies and video games are definitely true.) Then he picks it up and gives it a good shaking. Finally, Mom comes back and starts screaming at the kid. "You better not be hitting that again! I'm not buying you another one!"

He was! I wanted to jump up and say. So was the little one! Take them away and turn them off!

But when the captain finally says to turn off all electronic devices, I find myself wishing those DVD players were still up and running, because the mom begins a constant babbling conversation with the kids. She points out the window and starts naming things. "I see houses," she says. Her voice sounds exactly like the kid from the Sixth Sense. "I see dead people," I expect her to say next. (I'm sure the eight-year-old has seen the movie, seeing as it was rated R.)

The four-year-old looked up at me as we deplaned as if to say, "Take me with you. Please. Get me away from these people."

But I looked back at her and smiled, as if to say, "Sorry, Honey. You're on your own. I'm off to the HappiestPlaceOnEarth on the BusiestWeekendOfTheSeason where I'm sure there will be a minimum of loud mothers with annoying children...

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