Friday, November 27, 2009

Show and Tell

You know, I get just as annoyed as the next person when I'm on an airplane (or bus, etc.) and there's some kid who just won't stop screaming and crying. And as the father of a kid who, not so long ago, could whip up a tantrum that would send Damien himself reeling back to hell, I understand completely the urge to grab these kids, open the emergency door, and throw them the fuck out into the blue yonder. Believe me, I've wrestled with the urge more than a few times myself (even with my own kid). Most of us realize, though, that getting a kid to be quiet for your convenience and comfort is pretty much the same as trying to get a new puppy to stop pissing and shitting on the carpet, or expecting a shark to understand "please don't eat me." Little kids are forces of nature, so expecting them to act civilized when it suits our needs is a bit like looking up to the sky and asking it not to rain today.

But yeah, a long flight with a screaming kid on board can be a pretty unpleasant experience. I can, however imagine a worse experience. A much worse experience. I can imagine being on that plane sitting beside someone who, the whole time, is fussing and fidgeting, tut-tutting, whining and complaining, and generally not shutting the fuck up about it for the whole flight. A fucking idiot, in other words. Someone like Amy Alkon, perhaps:
I know, I know -- because I am not a parent I cannot possibly understand how hard it is to keep a child from acting out. Actually, that probably has more to do with the way I was raised -- by parents I describe as loving fascists. As a child, I was convinced that I could flap my arms and fly, but the idea that I could ever be loud in a public place that wasn't a playground simply did not exist for me.
Yeah yeah, these people were all raised by kind yet firm parents who taught them, from the moment they were born, about right and wrong behavior, about being good or bad little babies. These people never shit in their diapers, because they were toilet trained in the womb. These people never made a fuss when they were babies, because they were reading novels or doing crosswords by the time they started eating solid food.

These people are pathological liars. And if they're not, in fact, lying about their own behavior as 2-year-olds (because that's what we're talking about here), then you can be pretty damned sure they're lying about their parents. Fear, the great "educator" of the well-behaved.
I hear claims that some children are prone to tantrums no matter how exquisitely they are parented. If this describes your child, there's a solution, and it isn't plopping him in a crowded metal tube with hundreds of people who can't escape his screams except by throwing themselves to their deaths at 30,000 feet.
It really does come down to this: Your right to bring your screaming child on a plane ends where the rest of our ears begin.
OK, I get it. Children should be seen and not heard. Thank you for telling us so much about yourself, Ms. Alkon, however inadvertently. Show and tell is over now.


  1. That's precisely why I leave parenting to other people. I know I'm a nazy. If any child of mine tried that one on me, you would be able to see a dozen pretty teeth flying three miles away.

  2. Ah, the editorial Friday voice.

  3. Usual Stuff,
    I think you'd probably do the same as me. Feel the urge and then rein it in.

    Yeah, and this one was written before I'd even had a beer!

  4. I don't think soooo... I have already kicked kids on the street!