Parents

Dear Everyone On The Plane

My wife and I are doing our best. Our very best. Your scowls, dirty looks, head shakes, and eye rolls don’t help.
02/20/2017 10:00am ET | Updated February 20, 2017
Steve Stein

Headphones, 29F

Can I have your attention? Can I have your attention please? I mean, you know, more than my crying 3-year-old?

Mr. Scowler, Ms. Eyeroll? How about you, Mr. Headshake?

Great, thanks.

First I just want to ask if you noticed when we first got on the plane how well my son was turning on and off the lights — because he nailed it. He knew they were buttons immediately and understood instinctively to press them.

When I told him not to press the blue one, he discerned exactly which one that was — because, well, he pressed it. “Blue,” he said. For someone still mispronouncing purple, that’s pretty good.

I want to thank Andy. It’s Andy, right? I want to thank Andy for coming over and humoring my son and getting us some stickers. Thank you. That was very kind. Also that plastic cup. Thank you.

Anyway, he just pressed that blue button once. He had to get it out of his system. But there for the grace of god go any of us, am I right?

Yeah, well, I hope everyone had a nice time in Palm Springs. Maybe you got in some golf, hung out with friends. We had a fantastic time visiting grandparents. My son was loving and sweet. It was truly heartwarming to see him bond with my dad. And it was SO cute the way he danced with my mom; all his ‘fancy footwork’. There were a couple of hiccups; like the top heavy plant in the corner and how he got the TV to play only in Spanish. But as a whole, it was really a lovely time.

That said, he got a cold the other day. I blame the Discovery Center on Gerald Ford. That place is a bacteria breeding ground. I saw kids licking floor mats over by the rope maze —that can’t be good. But maybe he got it at the pizza place the other night. Who knows?

He does NOT have a fever. We know that. But he does sound like a kitchen disposal in reverse, all wet and chunky. He’s a hot mess. All stuffed up, can’t hardly breathe.

And he hasn’t been sleeping well, which means my wife and I haven’t been sleeping well. But we’ve not slept well before so it’s old hat for us.

So all the crying, whining, whimpering, and sniffling — it’s annoying for us, and we LOVE this kid. LOVE him. I mean we could just eat him up — runny nose and everything. So I can only imagine how annoying it must be for you.

But trust me, please please trust me, yelling at him to stop only makes it worse. I’ve tried it at home and it’s blown up in my face. BLOWN. UP. Things escalated from a one alarm problem to whatever number alarm inferno is. And we’re not spankers. That’s not how we roll. So you can push that wishful thinking away. Looking at you, Mr. Glower.

Maybe you noticed me sitting here for the last two hours pointing out every distraction I could think of. “What’s this, bud? Is this your nose? Where’s daddy’s ear? Can you buckle your seat belt? Can you unbuckle it? Where are your headphones? Want to read the magazine? Should we look at your books again? Do you want your flashlight? Are those clouds? Look, we’re above the clouds — isn’t that amazing? Are those mountains? Want to take your shoes off? How about we listen to music on daddy’s phone? Oh, come on, you used to love this book. It has garbage trucks. Should we sing?”

Bottom line, my kid is unimpressed with air travel. He thinks this is a big cab. And on some level you and I both know he’s kinda right.

I pointed out he was 3, correct? And that he’s not feeling well, right? Ok, so if you put those two together you get a person who is unable to understand the effect of a pressurized air cabin against his inflamed sinuses. Not only is he unable to understand it, he is unable to express it. I think I mentioned before he has trouble just saying purple. It comes out as gurple and it’s so cute we don’t even correct him. So that one’s on us.

But this thing with his ears and his nose and us all being trapped in a long metal tube at 36,000 feet — there’s nothing we can do.

My wife and I are doing our best. Our very best. Your scowls, dirty looks, head shakes, and eye rolls don’t help. I know, you think they would. You think they’d inspire us. But they don’t. It’s actually the opposite. Because now we’re just pinching him, and whispering how he doesn’t get dessert tonight.

I’m kidding. We’re not pinching him. Or whispering about dessert. We’re trying to calm him down, trying to reassure him that everything’s going to be ok. That whatever discomfort he has will soon disappear. And that we’ll be landing and getting in a cab and going home so he can sleep in his own bed.

Because that’s what we’re all doing, and we’re all in this together.

So thank you again for giving me your attention. I think there’s another hour or so to go. We’re gonna have another go at his garbage truck book. It’s one of his favorites.