With the June School Holidays upon us, it is the perfect time to bring the entire family off for a getaway. And if your getaway involves getting yourselves stuck in an airplane together with one or more baby/toddler/child, I feel your anguish. Because let's face it - at some point in time, we have all been on a plane empathizing, then sympathizing and finally ready to strike down the parents of a screaming baby.
I had previously came up with a list of WHAT TO BRING items when going on a trip with kids. So now, in honour of these brave souls, I have come up with 5 stages that frustrated parents go through when lugging kids aboard a flight. And I have based the stages on MOH's Disease Outbreak Response System (DORS), which is essentially a five-colour alert disease surveillance system that progresses from Green to Yellow, Orange, Red and Black.
Catchphrase: "Everything's okay, dear."
Parents with children have priority in boarding, and you chirpily ask the kids to help locate the seats. As they squirm into their seats, you hurry to unload the full flight inventory - snacks, drinks, toys, books, gadgets, bolsters - onto your own seat so as not to hold up the tsunami of travellers behind you. The kids are fascinated with all the buttons that come with the seat and quite frankly, you are contented just to let them be.
Catchphrase: "I told you to stop it."
Everybody is seated and your eldest is acting like the youngest, while the youngest begins asking if they are there yet. You tell them to buckle up, and they retort that they are bored. You tell them to look out the window in anticipation of take-off, but they begin to kick the seat in front of them.
Catchphrase: "If I have to repeat myself again..."
As the plane climbs a few thousand feet, your kids' ears begin to pop. Shrieks and wails soon follow as you rush to comfort them. You quickly say a prayer and wonder if you would need to check yourself into a hospital at your holiday destination. You now address your kids by their full names and your mental state betrays your fake smile to onlookers, as you realise your kids are on to their last toy/book.
Catchphrase: "That's it, you'll get it when we land!"
Boredom has come and gone. The last book or DVD has been finished and you have been to the toilet 5 times, of which 4 were false alarms. The people either in front or behind your seat are sick and tired of picking up that toy/book that has dropped onto the floor for the umpteenth time. All smiles (real and fake) have now been replaced with heartfelt apologies to all those around you.
JUST STOP IT! The tantrums have no end in sight, and the screaming - my word - is unprecedented. People around you are no longer angry at you, they are now angry for you. The suggestion box is full, the air stewardesses have run out of ideas and you regret not bringing along the cough syrup. As the plane approaches landing, the wait is unbearable, the restlessness is maddening and you just wish the plane headed towards to the Moon on a one way trip instead. Because it would save you from being arrested on arrival. That is, if you don't get set upon by your fellow passengers first.
I am sure the parents among us would have gone through some of the above stages, if not all. For us, the worst in-flight experience was with Ayd when we travelled to Taiwan in 2008. During the return leg, he was crying non-stop for more than 50% of the journey. He eventually cried himself to sleep, and since then, we have gained a few inches of skin.
Of course, please don't let this put you off travelling on a plane with your kids. Nobody said it was going to be easy. And it sure didn't stop us from lugging our entire village together on our travels, because it will all be worth it in the end. I'll share some of the things that we do onboard to keep the kids occupied in another post sometime next week.
Until then, what horror stories do you have to share?