Once parents are out of the tantrum years, they often forget what it was like to parent an unruly child. I have been scarred for life. My first daughter literally had one tantrum in her life, in response to one of her younger sister’s. She abruptly stopped, said, something along the lines of “this is ridiculous” and told us what had enraged her. She was 4.
Most kids don’t have the language or emotional capacity to control themselves. My middle daughter, Sela, (who, at 18, is so mellow that new friends don’t believe tales of her toddlerhood) used to get so upset in the middle of tantrums that she vomited. She also used to scream ‘don’t touch me’ and ‘you’re hurting me’ as she threw herself on the floor. Imagine that on an airplane.
So I sympathized with the family with a two year old wouldn’t calm down on a Jet Blue flight; they were forced to get off the plane and spend another night in a hotel.
I can recall many times when Sela was uncontrollably upset on airplanes, but she also followed rules and when her big sister strapped herself into her car seat, she always followed suit.
Flying with kids can be a crapshoot. You don’t know what will set them off. But if you are delaying a flight that can’t take off because your child won’t sit down, you have to expect criticism.
Our worst flight was when our youngest daughter was 5. My mother-in-law got remarried and had a late night wedding. Nora was the flower girl, and was up way past her bedtime.
The next day, she had a total meltdown on the flight home. She just wanted to be in her own bed.
Luckily for us, she started screaming after she was strapped in and she didn’t have the manual dexterity to un-strap herself.
She literally screamed the whole flight back to New York, finally falling asleep as we landed. Then I carried her through the airport and with her cherubic cheeks and curly hair, she looked like an angel. People smiled at us instead of shooting the hairy eyeball.
What would you do if your child wouldn’t calm down on an airplane?