Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Your right to bring your screaming child on a plane ends where the rest of our ears begin."

Amy Alkon, author of I See Rude People: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society, has an op-ed out in the LA Times about screaming kids on planes:

More and more, we're all victims of these many small muggings every day. Our perp doesn't wear a ski mask or carry a gun; he wears Dockers and shouts into his iPhone in the line behind us at Starbucks, streaming his dull life into our brains, never considering for a moment whether our attention belongs to him. These little acts of social thuggery are inconsequential in and of themselves, but they add up -- wearing away at our patience and good nature and making our daily lives feel like one big wrestling smackdown.

Southwest sent the right message in yanking Root and her screaming boy off the plane. Unfortunately, it lacked the corporate courage to stand its ground, probably fearing a public relations nightmare from the Mommy Mafia. Yet, almost every day, I encounter parents who need to get the same message Root initially did. Trust me -- should I long to hear screaming children, I'll zip right past my favorite coffeehouse and go read my morning paper at Chuck E. Cheese.

I tend to have some sympathy for parents who have crying kids. Those of us who are parents as well as others who are not understand that kids cry sometimes. What I don't have sympathy for are parents who in no way discipline their children while out in public. While I understand that parent's rights to discipline are limited given that the state interferes at times when a parent does discipline, I don't think the solution is to do nothing. I have seen parents who allow kids to do very harmful and terrible things in public and then wonder why the kid turns out to be such an ass when he or she gets older. If a kid does not understand how to act in certain settings, teach him or her or don't put them in that setting until they are older. The world will be a better (and quieter) place.

What do you think, screaming kids allowed on planes or not? I would also love to hear any stories you have about kids who have acted up in public and whether or not you said or did anything.

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Blogger Der Hahn said...

I'd suggest reading another account of the incident before making too many judgements.

From this report, it appears that the mother had both previous experience flying with her son, and a plan to control his behavior. It was not a case of 'kids gone wild'.

9:17 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

Very young children are prone to ear aches and those can be even more painful as the plane's cabin pressure changes. Young children kids are often scared by strange noises, too. I tend to cut them and their parents some slack. I only hope I don't regret these words soon - my wife and I are flying to Australia in a couple weeks.

What I don't like are the parents who are oblivious to their older children bothering others. I remember one flight several years ago where the child sitting in the row behind me was deliberately kicking and shoving the seat of the lady sitting beside me. Finally, she turned around and told the kid's mother to make him stop. The mother was surprised. She was oblivious to the fact that her precious little boy (about 7 years old) could be a nuisance.

9:21 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Physics Geek said...

I would also love to hear any stories you have about kids who have acted up in public and whether or not you said or did anything.

Well, at public playgrounds, or at the play areas in McDonald's, I routinely tell misbehaving kids to knock off their crap. In gentler words, of course. So far, all of the kids have obeyed and not once has a parent accosted me for correcting his/her child. Some day, that last streak will end.

9:41 AM, November 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy sounds like a typical middle aged grump who has no children and therefore has no idea what kids can be like. So once you're a parent you're not allowed to fly anywhere until your kids are 8 years old? Buy some ear plugs if it's so bad.

9:55 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Jana said...

Naturally, as a parent I make great efforts to prevent my 2-year-old daughter from acting up in public. She's usually pretty good, but definitely has her moments. All children have their moments, and it is part of the process of learning to self-govern. Amy's attitude reflects the usual attitude from people who themselves do not have children, which I'm sympathetic to. I've been there. You know, but then I had kids.

9:56 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

My daughter's a teenager now, but she's always been a 'spirited' child. I remember one nightmare flight. She was about 3 HATED the seatbelt. The stewardess told me she had to wear one. She screamed all the way for 2 hours. I tried absolutely everything I could think of. It remains a scarring memory for me. When I hear a crying child on a plane now, I can only be grateful it's not mine.

10:12 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Capn Eddie Ricketyback said...

I read the other account the first commenter linked to, and it doesn't change my opinion in the least that the airline did the right thing by removing the mom and her child from the flight and the wrong thing by appeasing them afterward. At least the mother seems to have more properly planned the next flight she took and the child behaved better.

This is just one more example of why I'm glad that my career as an airline captain is over. I had to deal with numerous passenger situations in flight, including one where I had to tell a retired senator that I would land short and have him removed from the flight if his behavior didn't improve (It did).

10:20 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Aurelian said...

God Eleanor get a grip. You sound like you are using parenthood as a cover for a self righteous attitude. There are clearly times when kids are out of control and need to be corrected - to use the word my sainted mother used. There are also times when kids are being kids, especially on a plane where changes in pressure can cause much pain on young ears, and you just deal with it. No I don't have kids Eleanor. Does it make me a member of the other?

10:21 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

If it doesn't take a village to raise a child and the responsibility of molding the next generation relies exclusively with the parents then the parents shouldn't be surprised if they get admonished for their childrens' less-than-pleasant behavior. Sure, children should be in the plane and in the restaurant, but their behavior needs to be monitored and controlled by the parents at all times. If your child becomes a nuisance you shouldn't complain if you are asked to leave the airplane or the eating establishment. Many fast food places have playgrounds built for the kids. The kids play, you eat, and everyone else stays in the restaurant in peace and quiet. What's not to love?

10:24 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

If the children won't behave inside, send them outside. :-)

10:34 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

I'm curious why the parents here seem to think that their choice to procreate limits my rights to a little peace and quiet, especially when I'm stuck in a sardine can and cannot readily escape your baby screamer special?

You gonna buy me a noise cancelling headset?

10:47 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Marbel said...

My kids have always been pretty good travelers. We made an effort when they were little to teach them how to behave: keep your feet down so you don't kick the seat in front of you, don't talk loudly, stay in your seat. I always lugged a huge carry-on full of diversions and snacks for them. As far as I know, we never bothered anyone - or no one ever complained directly.

Still, it's hard to predict and control exactly what a toddler will do. I feel a lot of empathy for parents with a screaming kid. And I never expect air travel to be fun or pleasant. When dealing with humans of any age, unpleasant behavior is always possible. I prefer a crying toddler to some of the obnoxious adults I've had to share a plane with.

11:22 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

A note to the mommy mafia and the cell phone talkers: Businesses are in the business of making money. If they determine that enough people are inconvenienced by ill-behaved children and loud cell phone talkers and they are taking a hit in the wallet, then the business owners will no doubt take action. The easiest course will be to ban cell phones and small kids. I'm already seeing it being done.

11:27 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Der Hahn said...

Aurelian, Darth, and Captain -

Let's see how you answer this hypothetical.

Airlines are regularly allowing (and/or passengers are sneaking on) minature dogs and cats.

A person who is extremely allergic to animal fur and dander finds themselves seated next to one. Does this person have the right to demand that the dog and the owner be removed from the plane? Are they going to be forced to exit the plane themselves? What distinguishes this instance from a child who is loud but, as far as I can tell, was not presenting any other problems (i.e. not running in the aisle, pushing call button, etc) that would intefer with a safe flight.

11:27 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

as a parent i am especially intolerant of other people`s children when they are noisy, irritating or precocious to the point where i cannot ignore them reasonably in a confined space.

i have removed my children from restaurants, coffee shops and so on if thier behaviour was persistantly irritating to others, and expect, yet rarely recieve the same consideration.

i had a librarian tell me recently that they encourage people to speak quietly but don`t insist.

as a child, if we even whispered in a library we would be boiled in oil.

the liberal attitude is that we should tolerate and accept all forms of expression equally. noise, exhibition, smells, demonstration, demands, outbursts...

it comes down to the fact that society is re-tribalising.

obama is an effect, not a cause.

in the tribal village men, women, children and senior and animals all lived in one big hut.

this served many practical purposes. protection, warmth in winter, and emotional community.

every human function was performed without shame or restriction, from birth to procreation to death.

and life went on.

we have lived in an individualistic private society for hundreds of years and it is supported with morals, ethics and healthy shame (politeness and modesty..).

this luxury is expensive to maintain socially and politically and so a collective approach makes some ecenomic and fiscal sense.

what we see as impolite, immodest and obscene in some cultures is daily life.

marshall mcluhan predicted much of this shift in our culture with the advent of tv and now computers.

he called it the global village.

everyone under one big roof.

who farted?

11:38 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Capn Eddie Ricketyback said...

Der Hahn @ 11:27 AM, November 24, 2009:
Different situation, but, just as in the screaming child case that is not a matter for you, me, or the government to decide. The airline itself should be the arbiter of that situation. If I were the decider in this case, I would not allow animals in the passenger compartment at all, but as was frequently the case during my employment, the airline management may decide differently.

11:45 AM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger roadgeek said...

I was in a Vietnamese restaurant with my wife. Two children were screaming and racing around the restaurant. I had had enough. I walked over to the table where the mother and the grand-dad were sitting and politely but firmly asked the mother to discipline her children. Her father got a stoic and far-away look on his face; it was obvious he was humiliated that a stranger had to ask for his grand-kids to be disciplined. The mother called out to the kids in Vietnamese and they came to heel quickly. Very quickly. I think it worked out nicely. I'd do it again.

12:04 PM, November 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is not just the obnoxious child but the parent's lack of effort to correct the situation. I understand that an infant's ears hurt and I sympathize because there is nothing to be done.

I do not understand a child kicking my seat or clicking his seatbelt over and over out of boredom and his father not doing anything about it. If I have to ask your kid to stop something and you do not reinforce my request (yes, I am talking to you, mother of the kid who had the laser noisemaking gun on the 12-hour bus ride through northern Argentina), then I am doubly annoyed. At least with the gun, when I asked the kid to give it to me, he did. I kept it until the end of the trip. His mother did not have the nerve to ask for it back.

12:39 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Bill said...

I read Amy Alkon daily, and while I often agree with her, I occasionally think that she needs to dial it back. Kids are a part of our environment, and those of us who are child-free are still a part of a society that has children in it, and can't insist that we be utterly insulated from them.


1:00 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger knightblaster said...

Very frustrating comments from Aikon.

I'll agree that if an older child is kicking the seat in front of them and the parent is not restraining them, then this is an issue that needs "correction". However, this was the case of a very young child -- and kids of that age do cry and act up regardless of what their parents are doing, especially on airplanes. If the airlines all began to act as SW did here, you may as well prohibit families with children under 6 or so from flying, because that's effectively the standard. An airplane is not the opera house, people. Yep, you need to rub shoulders with the unwashed masses of breeders. Deal with it.

1:19 PM, November 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think, screaming kids allowed on planes or not.

Likely, they aren't screaming until the choice has already been made.

I can bring my own 30c earplugs. I am far more annoyed by being seated next to someone who is too large for their seat and encroaches on mine. People of a certain size should be seated in a section with seats large enough for them... and charged appropriately for it. It would be like First Class, but without the extra food and drink service.

I am also mildly annoyed that an insufficient number of attractive women are forced to sit next to me.

1:50 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen
RE: Does....

....Amy have any children of her own?

That lived?


P.S. Discipline IS essential. Instilling it at as early an age as possible is VITAL to their ultimate well-being and living harmoniously with others.

2:28 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger officeronin said...

You know, my being inconvenieced is not always a result of others' incivility. From what I read, the mother was doing what she could to stop the outburst. That is all that is within her power, and all that can be asked.
I was on a flight from Honolulu to LA with a toddler who was wailing in the seat behind me and two parents who were clearly trying. When someone complained to them, the father said, "We are doing what we can -- do you have any ideas?" It immediately identified who was being rude, and who was trying to rectify the problem.

2:32 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Suzanne Lucas said...

Officeronin, from what I read the mother was PLANNING to give him food upon take off. While that is a plan, it doesn't assure anyone around her that she's doing something.

I have sympathy because I have a toddler and I'm dreading upcoming flights with him. But, airplane trips are not the time, nor the place, to teach children how to behave. It is the time for treats and toys and whatever it takes to make the little one happy so that the rest of the passengers are happy.

Car trips are the time to teach behavior.

2:44 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger officeronin said...

Evil HR Lady --

If you do not have a specific behavior that you want the moral agent (the mother) to do, you do not have room for complaint against her. It's like yelling at the car in front of you in rush hour, when everyone is stuck in traffic. Did you find anything in the story to determine that she did not have treats or toys or a nook? She also had food -- which I feel certain the airline employees were unwilling to let her feed to the child until after takeoff. Of course, that is based on my experiences with airline employees.

Now, if you feel that good behavior is a qualification that must be met before travelling on aircraft, I'd submit that the airlines will go out of business.


3:37 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Aurelian said...

I have made my postion clear in my post and think it is fruitless to play the "what if" game. C'mon Der Hahn figure it out. My position is not extreme.

4:15 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: Speak of the 'Devil'

Just had a 'screaming child' experience in my local grocery store. Someone else's child. Around 10 years old. Male.

Autistic....as it turned out.

The child was calling little old ladies S**s of B****es and screaming its head off. Then he would cry out that nobody likes him.

It was 'interesting'. I felt more sorry for the mother than for the child. She was at her wits end and biting the heads off of anyone who said ANYTHING to her.

I suggested getting vest for the boy that read, "I have special needs (autism)". Just to alert people that it wasn't just a matter of an undisciplined child. But I had my head handed to me.


[No good deed goes unpunished.]

4:32 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

Crying kids under a certain age are a fact of nature--if the parents are trying and they're not endangering the plane, the rest of us can just put up with it (though if the parents take them into a restaurant or a theater, they should be stoned. Especially if they take them into an R-rated movie).

Over, say, 4 years old, they should be able to behave. I was on a flight once behind a group of kids aged 5-7 that were running in the aisles, and the stewardesses wouldn't do anything even when I complained. That really did aggravate me.

4:32 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit said...

Edgehopper has it: age of the child, length of the delays, Acts of God (really scary turbulence, etc.), airline rules about when you can feed, etc. all make the difference between having the people in front of you tell you "What a good and conscience mother you are!" and being SO glad you will never, ever see any of these people again.

Same kid, same age, once going East, once West: Life is funny like that.

5:04 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I was reading some sort of parenting advice a few months ago, I can't remember where. The suggestion on how to handle an supremely ill-behaved child in a store or restaurant was to have the parent tell the manager the child is unable to be controlled, settle the bill immediately or hand over the half-filled cart and leave the establishment. The child would learn the shopping/dining experience ends abruptly due to their behavior, punishment then can be meted out afterward, and then a return visit can be scheduled another day. I see this as reasonable.

5:11 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Marbel said...

The child would learn the shopping/dining experience ends abruptly due to their behavior

Cham, this is not bad advice if the child is misbehaving in a place he wants to be. But kids catch on to the fact that they are removed from situations when they misbehave. So they may decide to misbehave in places they don't like. Sometimes the punishment is worth getting out of Target.

The few times I've had problems with my kids in an unpleasant place (the grocery store), I kept shopping, refused all the child's requests/demands, apologized to everyone around me, and left when I was done. I was surprised by the kind comments from customers and clerks during those horrible experiences.

On the other hand, when my kids acted up in the library once, I put down all our books and Thomas the Tank Engine videos and walked out. Because my kids like the library, they were horrified at this and we never had a problem again.

Of course this wouldn't work on an airplane anyway.

5:57 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger orthodoc said...

I can think of plenty of people who are far more irritating than crying children on airplanes.

1. The Washington Post reporter sitting in the aisle seat who used my (middle) seat as her personal storage facility, then sighed all the way to the Left Coast at my asking her to move her junk.

2. The three-buttock chubster who used her own seat and much of mine on a six hour cross-country flight.

3. The guy who pushed his seat back hard into my area, when I had the tray table down with a cup of coffee on it. Thanks, bud.

4. The chatty Cathy who wants to talk, when I'm clearly working on a presentation.

5. The royalty in the back of the plane who insist on pushing their way to the front as soon as the plane parks.

6. The weak-bladdered window seat denizen, who has to run to the toidy every hour.

Frankly, a screaming kid I can deal with. They'll quit eventually.

6:21 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Agree with a couple of the commenters who note that the problem isn't the child, it's the parent who won't take action.

Two flights to Manchester (UK) ago, on a Monday night, I was in Business class in seat 1B -- and right behind me was a 4-year-old who spent the preflight SCREAMING. We're talking red-faced, vein-popping, 130db stuff. Okay, fine; kids do that, in coach. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt on any number of domestic hops. But the reason I'm allowed to expense the considerable extra money to fly in Business class between the US and Europe is to sleep on the plane -- because I'm expected to put in a full day at the office the next day.

I looked at the kid a couple of times, then at dad, raising eyebrow to discreetly ask "you gonna handle this?" Well, dad got extremely huffy and explained that he'd paid "just as much as everyone else" to sit there. My seatmate was quicker on the draw than I was and rather loudly called over a flight attendant to be reseated; with that, dad finally semi-took the hint. The screaming finally died down about an hour into the flight, but started back up again as we went feet-dry over England. Made for a very (VERY) long day in the office.

I like Neal Boortz' solution: no children under 10 in Business class. Period.

9:24 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

This woman is wrong, and some of you are being way too defensive and touchy.

Almost every flight I've taken has had some crying/screaming. It's normal. People do what they can to ignore it, and parents do what they can to calm their kids, and everyone understands that they're in the same boat.

It's the parents who don't do anything that are the problem.

It sounds like this mom just said, "He'll stop after we take off [and I feed him]" and expected that that's all she was required to do. Surprise! Not so much.

It's part of the social contract: people will give your kid(s) leeway to be kids, but you've got to work double time to cover because they're YOUR kids, not everyone else's. This mom didn't, and it's clear because of how the second trip went.

Before her second flight she warned her son, changed her flight time, fed him beforehand and guess what? It went relatively well. That's what she should have done from the beginning.

Just remember when you read these things: stewardesses deal with this multiple times each and every day they work. You seriously think this woman was singled out for a run-of-the-mill screaming kid?

9:57 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger KCJohnGalt said...

Flying being an optional activity, years ago I solved the various problems I encountered by choosing not to fly. This obviously is not a possibility for a lot of people, but it was for me, as I am retired and am uninterested in overseas travel and enjoy travel by car. Said car, by the way, doesn't get great gas mileage but is paid for, was not built by enviromentalist nutjobs and pleases me. I can jump in it any time of the day or night, unrestrained by an airline schedule, can bring almost anything I like with me, pay nothing for luggage, won't have my shampoo bottle confiscated, won't have to take off my shoes and belt in front of strangers, won't have to be subjected to the various tantrums of OP's children or of course the OPs themselves, kids kicking my seat, loud talkers, flight delays, etc, etc.

So while I can offer condolences to those suffering the stupidity or simply unavoidable behavior of others on airline flights, I'd also say you have zero chance of altering other people's behavior - you can only alter yours. So bring noise-canceling headphones and a good book, take sleep medications, learn meditation, or do whatever it takes to mute the distractions.

And if nothing works, then either accept it as the cost of being alive or quit flying.

11:40 PM, November 24, 2009  
Blogger bear said...

A shot of Dimetapp works wonders too for kids before flight....

4:45 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Jim S. said...

I'm blessed with a very well-behaved kid who has flown several trans-Atlantic flights. Only once, on a short connection flight, did he act up, and afterward, people told us how well-behaved he was, which surprised me immensely.

When he gets old enough he will know that he can't throw a temper tantrum in public. Until then there's not a whole heck of a lot we can do when the rare tantrum is thrown. If he did it on a plane I would certainly apologize to the other passengers, and it wouldn't last the whole flight like Alkon's nemesis did. But I don't think the possibility that he might throw a temporary tantrum obviates our right to fly, anymore than the possibility that someone might vomit (and thus stink up the whole cabin) obviates their right to fly in general.

7:40 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Suzanne Lucas said...

Office Ronin-Did you find anything in the story to determine that she did not have treats or toys or a nook

Yes, I did. In the article where she is quoted she said she specifically did not feed him before the flight and was waiting until take off to do so.

I've done my fair share of flying and flight attendants don't bat an eyelash at handing your child a piece of fruit, a candy bar, or a bottle of Dr. Pepper. They don't allow you to bring the tray down. They probably would balk at you feeding him out of a jar.

Starving your child so he can eat on the flight is ridiculous. She even said that before the next flight (Where the child behaved) she made sure he was rested and fed. Duh!

As I said, I have sympathy. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done, but sometimes there are things that can be done that are not being done.

My bet is that if she were trying to get him to be quiet with simple bribery they would have ignored it. From her own words it sounds like she was just waiting for take off.

8:24 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Chris wrote: "It's the parents who don't do anything that are the problem."
Fussy kids are indeed understandable. Passive parents are subject to social disapproval in order to whip them into shape.


8:43 AM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Putting the cell phones and the screaming babies aside, I'm somewhat interested in this sudden new fascination everyone has with rudeness and manners. In years past it was either not discussed as much or maybe I just didn't notice it. Bu I will make some guesses as to why it is now an issue.

During my childhood years ago there were 200 million people in the US. Years later there are 300 million. That is a huge jump in a short period of time. During the boom years of the last century people moved to the suburbs and the exurbs. Gas cost a pittance and we all drove our own vehicles to our own homes on half acre lots. It was pretty hard to annoy another. We thrived, we showered our kids with all sorts of blessings: their own rooms, their own phones and cars. They got the message, they are special people.

Now we think twice before taking out an interest-only mortgage on a McMansion in the hinterlands. We want smaller homes near bigger employment sources. We work longer hours and do less cooking so we find ourselves utilizing cafes and restaurants. We use our cars less and transportation services more. Our sense of personal space is shrinking and we have no choice but to come in greater contact with the unwashed masses. And as our children leave the nests they still think they are special.

It's going to get much worse before it gets better.

1:33 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger br549 said...

Screaming kids on cross country flight get real old real fast. I have three. I didn't take them on flights until they were beyond screaming age, having been on the receiving end of it most of my adult life. On the smaller jets, like the 717's, etc., when flying up and down the coasts, I am more concerned with banning farting. There are some people in this world who really need to eat better. And you people know who you are!

6:09 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

Thanks so much, Dr. Helen, for posting this. My ire is not directed at the children, who are victims as much as the rest of us are, of those who are "parents" rather than parents.

As for why there's an interest in rudeness all of a sudden, there's more than ever these days. People haven't changed. I did a lot of research for this book, and found that it seems we live in societies too big for our brains. We have very old psychology -- even now -- and it's perfect for small-tribe/small-town living. Problem: We live in vast strangerhoods, most of us. You can do anything to strangers. To people you know, you need to be more civil, because you'll have continuing interactions. Beyond punishing the flagrantly rude (people who don't care if you're bothered by their loudness or whatever -- versus people who simply are not mindful in the moment and regret bothering anyone), we need to make an effort to treat strangers like neighbors...do small kindnesses, stuff that just takes a moment or two, like offering somebody who walks into a cafe the newspaper you've just read.

All of this and more is in my book, which I hope people will buy.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Dr. Helen, and everybody.

6:38 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Amy Alkon said...

br549 said...
Screaming kids on cross country flight get real old real fast. I have three. I didn't take them on flights until they were beyond screaming age, having been on the receiving end of it most of my adult life

How civilized. My parents took the same approach.

I find it wild that I am commending you for being considerate in this way (shouldn't this just be how things are?) but, unfortunately, it's become something to be commended for.

6:44 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Master Doh-San said...

"My ire is not directed at the children, who are victims as much as the rest of us are, of those who are "parents" rather than parents."

So perhaps we should send the parents outside?


7:20 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger 1charlie2 said...

Only traveled by air with the kids once, they were (blissfully) well behaved.

But I have abruptly dragged them out of restaurants, the library, and other places for misbehaving -- and refusing to settle down. Generally, we go as a family, and the other parent (and the behaving child) continue their activities, while the problem child sits in the car. Mom and I took turns being the "bad cop" and always kept a crossword-puzzle book in the car, or a journal we'd "been meaning to read but never found the time."

And I still recall carrying my oldest over my shoulder, screaming bloody murder, off the county fairgrounds. I walked right past two sheriff's deputies and an EMT.

They applauded me :)

Of course, it has backfired. My boys became incredibly well behaved in public (really). But they can STILL be total beasts at home.

8:32 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

speaking of annoying cellphone use, there are a couple of airconditioning installers who come into the local starbucks and they have those walkie-talkie phones that are designed to be used standing beside a jet taking off.

you can hear them yapping at eachother a hundred yards away.

it makes me wonder where they give themselves the permission to inflict thier conversation on everyone in the place.

11:09 PM, November 25, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Amy Alkon
RE: You Are SOOOO Wrong, Here

Thanks so much, Dr. Helen, for posting this. My ire is not directed at the children, who are victims as much as the rest of us are, of those who are "parents" rather than parents. -- Amy Alkon

It's both the parents AND the children.

The parents for not disciplining their children.

The children for being total brats.

It's a vicious cycle that spirals downward. And whereas the parents bear the bulk of the burden, that does not excuse the children.

Additionally, the people who sit and/or stand by in silence in the presence of such an ill-mannered group of sociopaths bear THEIR own portion of responsibility.


[To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. -- Abraham Lincoln]

8:13 AM, November 26, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Dr. Alistar says:

it makes me wonder where they give themselves the permission to inflict thier conversation on everyone in the place.

By not saying anything to these gentleman about their rudeness, you gave them the permission.

9:30 AM, November 26, 2009  
Blogger CarmelaMotto said...

I can say the same for the inconsiderate jerks who live upstairs with their 3 year old. They treat her like a circus animal - look at the cute things she does! Lets greet Daddy with screams in the hall way every time he comes in the door! Isn't it cute! Then she doesn't get what she wants (about every 20 minutes) and then she screams some more (so loud, I jump with the first cry) and stomps her feet. Not so cute, but then they try negotiating with her and give in. And I get to be a part of all of this because my selfish landlord got scared after a month without a tennant and now tells me "they gotta live their life." What about mine? This kid is up until 11pm. I can't enjoy a book without it being interrupted with screams and incessant banging (today's specialty while working from home is...entertaining herself bymoving furniture! so cute!).

3:53 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: CarmelaMotto
RE: I Suggest....

..."they gotta live their life." What about mine? -- CamelaMotto

....that its time you consider buying a house of your VERY OWN.


P.S. As I stated earlier, if you stand by and do nothing....

....you've only yourself to blame.

P.P.S. Imagine the consternation of your landlord when you move out, citing your reasons.

5:12 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger CarmelaMotto said...

Gee Chuck, you're right! I should go out and buy a house I can't afford! Problems solved. WOW. Why didn't I think of that? Thanks buddy!

That's my fantasy, it's not reality (but there's a reason I am not buying a condo I can't afford).

And I haven't done nothing. I have tried to reason with these people and asked for their consideration, but they are jerks.

I am not to blame. The problem is inconsiderate people. These weren't my neighbors when I moved in - the ones before were awesome and I was promised equally good neigbors and told "not to worry." I can't buy that house if I am wasting money doing that only to have the same or worse sharing a building with me.

7:17 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger Carol said...

You can't assume someone isn't disciplining their child. You don't know that child or the parent. It could be an autistic child or something. Get over it. If people are so damn delicate they can buy their own private jet. Public situations are rarely comfortable. What about full grown adults behaving like rude morons to the person checking them in at the hotel. Please, adults are much more often the intolerable asses.

9:19 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger Carol said...

It's hilarious! I just realized this is SOUTHWEST AIRLINES. Southwest is ghetto! hahaha! Please, trying to get Bloomingdales service at Ross Dress for Less, laughable. Southwest is like an inner-city bus. C'mon!

9:29 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger Der Hahn said...

Cham - I'm somewhat interested in this sudden new fascination everyone has with rudeness and manners.

I've been thinking about this post, and Ms Alkon's book off and on, and this comment seems to fit in.

*Manners* are a code of conduct that guides a person's interactions with other people. Manners are something that *I* learn, and displaying good manners shows that I am a educated and refined person.

Rudeness is behavior that stongly indicates an absence of training in manners.

What I find in a number of these posts is an emphasis on *other people's* behavior (reference the book title). This emphasis is not a fascination with manners. If it was a fascination with manners, it would not be focused on why confronting 'rude people' is a social good.

To be blunt, a lot of what I'm finding, as in this posting, is a definition of rudeness that verges on 'not paying enough attention to the Most.Important.Person.In.The.Room'.

10:54 PM, November 27, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: CarmelaMotto
RE: Well....

Gee Chuck, you're right! I should go out and buy a house I can't afford! Problems solved. WOW. Why didn't I think of that? Thanks buddy! -- CarmelaMotto

You're welcome.

But rather than being bitter about your acceptance of your current circumstances....

....and you DO accept them if you don't do anything about them....

....stop whining and live with your decision to live where you do.


P.S. There are places you can move to and buy a house you can afford. It's up to you to decide where you're going to live. Isn't it?

If you don't like your current circumstances and don't do anything about them....

....whose fault is THAT?

3:01 AM, November 28, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

If Southwest is ghetto or an inner city bus, I'll be happy to go there. Thankfully one airline is half-heartedly taking a stand and requesting its customers to behave, rather than expecting people to self-police.

And since we are on the topic of rudeness, has anyone else come in contact with the seat-savers? This is when you have a free event with limited amounts of seating. One person shows up early and puts some type of paperwork on several seats, like 20 of them. Then they spend the time leading up to the event making sure no one gets anywhere near the saved seats, and calling her friends on her cell letting them know they don't need to rush. After the event begins the 20 people saunter in and leisurely take their seat while the rest of the audience gets to stand in the back without a seat. I like a good seat saver myself, because I make a point to take a saved seat and let the seat saver argue with the management over it. Much fun, I never lose.

In this world, if you give an inch they'll take a mile.

7:54 AM, November 28, 2009  
Blogger Locomotive Breath said...

So I'm in the movie theater watching the third of the Star Wars trilogy in 1983. During the telling conversation where Luke reveals to Leia that Darth Vader is their father two kids directly in front of me are cutting up having mock Ewok light saber battles and preventing me from hearing the dialog. So I shushed them.

After the movie the mother in charge (I use that phrase advisedly) accosted me and asked if I had never gotten overly excited in a movie theater. I told her that I had but that my mother had told me that if I didn't quit bothering the people around me she was going to take me out of the theater. There was no reply.

And, yeah, I'm a geek.

9:25 AM, November 28, 2009  
Blogger CarmelaMotto said...

Chuck - you don't know me, my circumstances or my plans. Sometimes things are not that simple, but good for you that you have the means, the lack of responsibility and obligations to do whatever you want, whenever you want to. That's awesome. You are a lucky fellow.

9:43 PM, November 29, 2009  
Blogger Julie said...

I've read several accounts of this now, and I can't see that this is a case where a parent didn't care how her child was behaving or was inattentive to it. This seems to be a case where the mother, indeed, had anticipated and planned a course of action to deal with the behavior and it failed. If this was in a library or a church or something, sure, I would expect her to then resort to Plan B and haul the kid outside...but, that wasn't an option here. She may have been right that the kid would have settled down once they were in motion; mine always do, and she seemed to know from experience that her son would. But, please, this is the Internet, and none of us were on the flight, so for heaven's sake, let's rush to judgment!

I've noticed some people recently claiming a "right" to peace and quiet and the like. No such right exists. There is also not a "right" to not be offended or impinged upon in public spaces. Ideally, manners are there to prevent those things, but this isn't a matter of rights. It's odd to me, because Ms. Alkon sometimes seems to take a libertarian position, but throwing everyone who bugs you off the bus is, um, not very libertarian in my book. Then again, she also vehemently dislikes fat people and would gladly throw them off the bus as well, so perhaps she is not so very libertarian.

Personally, I don't travel by plane much with our two little ones, but occasionally circumstances crop up that necessitate it (sorry, but we can't drive to Japan to visit the paternal grandparents!). I cannot see any reasonable defense for the position that Ms. Alkon's "right" to peace and quiet supersedes my "right" to take my children to visit their Japanese family members.

Besides, I'm kind of with orthodoc--there are way more irritating passengers on a plane than crying kids. I have long legs, so for me, it's the people who sit in front of me and fully recline their seats so that I am essentially pinned to my seat for the duration of their nap, those are the people who need to be kicked off, preferably in midair. Not only are they annoying, but they are increasing the likelihood of the people behind them getting a DVT from being immobile for so long. Give me the screaming kid any day.

5:49 AM, December 08, 2009  

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