An Open Letter From The Parents Of A Toddler To Everyone Else On The Plane

Dear fellow passengers,

Congratulations! You’ve got a front-row seat to the most stressful day of my life. In fact, the very thought of air travel with my toddler makes me want to zip my jacket over my face. To be honest, I haven't even worked up the nerve to book the flight at the time I'm writing this, but I hear writing can be calming, so here we are together. Consider yourself my thoughtful therapists and me your neurotic patient who, instead of having a leather couch to lay on, is stuck in an uncomfortable seat that only reclines three inches.

Shall we begin by addressing the elephant in the cabin? I’m not exactly happy about this either. I’ve had no fewer than 17 stress dreams about it. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration (it was only 13), but trust me, we wouldn’t be traveling this way unless it was our only option. Seriously, since our kid was born, car trips have been our go-to means of travel when possible, which so far, has been every time. I miss being able to travel with him three feet away and not three inches from my face and yours. (Airplanes are so generous with their space, aren’t they?) Since we're going to be very ~close~ for the next few hours, I thought I would go ahead and admit a few things up front, and offer some tips for making this plane neighbor-ship as painless as possible.

One: Please don’t touch him. I know he’s probably going to reach for your nose and your face and your ears and your elbows, but if you could please refrain from smiling and encouraging it, that’d be great. We’re working on boundaries, which he currently has none of. If you touch him or smile at him, he's just going to think it's fun to keep climbing on you. I mean, if you're cool with that, then good luck on this journey you've chosen.

Food will be thrown at some* point. Let's just embrace that as our new reality and move on.

No, I have no idea how he’s going to react when his ears pop. Yes, there could be some tears. No, he’s too small for gum but rest assured I used all the precious space in my quart-sized Ziploc for fruit puree pouches (and one bottle of hand sanitizer, I’m not a total noob) to keep him busy and orally fixated during take-off and landing so, yes, I'm doing everything I can.

Now let's talk about the unavoidable truth: I don’t think this little person is going to stay calmly seated for the duration of this flight. There is a good chance that I will let him walk up and down the aisles to allow him to burn energy. Otherwise, I think he’d get so frustrated by being trapped on my lap that the likelihood of him squirming and screaming is higher than our cruising altitude. Also, during said walk up and down the aisles, he will most definitely stop and stare at you and may even try to touch your pant leg and/or socks, if they’re showing. This, frankly, is the path you chose when you selected an aisle seat, so like, put on your headphone and accept what's happening. Your socks are getting touched. Your life could be worse. Speaking of aisles, um, could you please also actually follow the in-flight security guidelines and tuck your bag under your seat? He’s kinda nosey, too. Good thing none of us have sharp objects, right? Thanks. You're really the best. We're gonna get through this together.

Another good thing about him stopping to stare at you is at least he’s a tiny kid. Being stared at by him isn’t likely to feel as invasive as, say, a creepy man who never smiles, or a tense and caffeinated white lady with jeans and ballet flats who is pleading with you to stay patient with her (*cough* maybe talking about myself *cough*). Because toddlers are cute! And they (whether they know it or not) and their parents (who definitely know it) are hoping you’ll forgive all the annoyances they are causing because, cuteness.

Oh, you’re probably wondering where those adorable gift bags of ear plugs and candy and liquor are. Yeah, I’ve seen those on Pinterest, too. So sorry about that, I didn’t have time. Perhaps you’ve heard I’m traveling with a toddler? I have no idea who those gift-bag-making Pinterest moms are, but I'm not about that life. Better luck on your next flight.

Thanks in advance for your endless supply of patience,


*almost endlessly throughout the duration of the flight

Images: Chris Prignola/Unsplash; Giphy(3)