I feel like a thing we don't consider often enough is that children are people. Like, actual, whole, human people, much like adults, but smaller. I know, it’s a crazy notion and some may need a little time to digest the concept. You see, it is possible for children to have dreams, ambitions, personalities (intentionally plural; Have you ever met a 2-year-old who didn’t appear to have some version of dissociative identity disorder?). It's even possible for kids to — wait for it — love to travel. For example: my daughter’s Christmas list is made up of a list of countries. She says I’m free to choose any country on the list but all she wants is to go there. For her last birthday, we ended up at a resort with a drink in my hand and a beach at her behest. So, when it comes to children and wanderlust, my little bundle has it in spades, as do many other tiny humans. What they don't have (what I don't have, I guess is more accurate) is patience for people who say offensive or annoying things to use when we're traveling.
If children are people — let’s go ahead and say this is fact, and try to remember it all the days of our lives — they might have certain inalienable rights to go with that. And some of those rights might involve freedom to live their lives (including travel sometimes) without hearing meaningless banter from the adults they encounter along the way. As the mother of a budding travel-holic who loses her mind when a passport expiration date approaches, these are the things I’m tired of having thrown my way when my kid and I run off to have an adventure together.
"You're So Brave."
I get that this is often well-meaning but I don’t care. By telling me you think I'm brave for traveling with my child, you're suggesting there's something wrong or abnormal about traveling with children. Since this goes against my entire life philosophy (see: "have as many adventures as possible before I die"), I object to its use. Also, if you're stuck on a plane with your child or are on your third layover of the day with a pink backpack in tow, you may not feel brave. You may feel homicidal. And no one needs to talk to people in that state of mind.
"It's A Long Flight. Are They Going To Be OK?"
Do you have any idea how long a child is required to sit during the average school day? Neither do I but I know it’s longer than this flight into JFK. Also, do you think there's even the slightest chance I don't know how long this flight is? I'm mom. I'm badass. I downloaded the exact amount of entertainment necessary, including a 20-minute "we just boarded and the dude next to us has made me angry" segment in case we were seated next to you and your bucket of ignorance. In other words, yes, the child will be OK. Thank you for asking.
"You Better Keep Them Quiet."
Um, what? Can we please acknowledge that there’s a group of drunken frat boys two rows down who just challenged the flight attendant to a game of beer pong? Look, I understand there's a social stigma that suggests children are unruly and annoying but I'm pretty damn sure my child will never be as loud as these drunken faux Greeks debating football like global warming isn't about to kill us all.
"What, You Couldn't Get A Sitter?"
Yes, this is actually something I’ve been asked. Look, if I’m on a plane to Paris with my spawn, there’s a solid chance it’s because I want to be on a plane to Paris with her. There's ice skating literally on the Eiffel Tower during the winter break and I'd look silly if I went by myself. Moments like this are why I had her in the first place. Plus, she's a travel genius and she talks to people so I don't have to. Minion for the win.
“Why Should I Have To Change Seats Because You Didn’t Plan Ahead?”
This is the standard response from at least a dozen people on the plane when the flight attendant announces that a family would like people to switch so they can sit together. Let me take this moment to correct a misconception: I did plan ahead. I booked these tickets months in advance and the airline screwed up and put us in separate rows. I appreciate your condescension and the assumption that because I’ve pushed a child out of my lady-bits, I clearly am incapable of functioning at any reasonable level and it must be my mistake. While I fully support that view you have of me (lies; I don't), this wasn’t my fault.
If you don’t want to change seats, fine. But guess what? I don’t mind you being stuck next to my child for 14 hours straight, and neither does she. My little darling is the perfect blend of evil and genius. She will ask you a question every twenty seconds for the entire flight and then laugh maniacally when your head explodes. Don't bother coming to find me, the fasten seatbelt light is on.
“Would You Like To Trade Seats So You Can Sit By Your Child?”
Nope. Still mad at the character in the previous story and am passive-aggressive and irrational enough to take it out on you. Whatever you do, don't give her sugar. Have a nice flight.
Images: Esther Sherman; Giphy(6)