That Annoying Toddler Kicking the Back of Your Airplane Seat
That annoying toddler—we have seen and experienced them—sits behind you on the plane and makes noise. That toddler is demanding. That toddler even whines from time to time. Worst of all—that annoying toddler kicks the back of your seat.
I am a hater of someone kicking the back of my seat. When my kids were little, if a few shouts of “Stop it!” didn’t make the foot action stop, I often pulled over and refused to drive another foot.
That annoying toddler kicking the back of the airplane seat, however, was not one of my kids—she is my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.
That annoying toddler also did some annoying toddler things in the airport. She collapsed in a heap on the floor and refused to move. She escaped from her mom and me and dashed across the security lines, almost knocking over the metal stands that held the lines in place. Conversely, that annoying, slow-moving toddler held up the security check lines while we scooped her off the floor with the exciting news that the man wanted to see her socks, so in another minute, she could take off her boots.
On our return flight home, that annoying toddler had her own Thomas the Tank suitcase on wheels, so, once again, some folks in the airport could not get through the lines as quickly as they wanted. I graciously told the man pushing against my back that he was welcome to go in front of me.
That annoying toddler took a bit more time than some preferred because she’s little—she’s two, after all—and it was hard to pull her suitcase down the airplane aisle. Once seated, that annoying toddler had snacks and drinks and an iPad Mini loaded with Daniel Tiger games for the trip home. We figured she would be occupied the entire flight.
However, not too long into the flight, that annoying toddler started kicking the back of the seat in front of her. “Stop that!” her mom said. “Don’t do that!” I said. “That doesn’t feel good to the person sitting in the seat.”
Unfazed by our admonitions, that annoying toddler continued to kick the back of the seat. The man sitting in the seat turned around, and I thought, “Oh, boy. We’re in for it now.” And we were—for the balance of the flight, on and off, that man held a monkey puppet over the back of his seat. The monkey danced. The monkey played. The monkey made faces. It reached toward Emma to shake her hand. It engaged in monkey antics, waving its arms and jumping, and Emma shrieked with joy! Near the end of the flight, the monkey puppet even held up an iPad Mini so Emma could see that they were kindred spirits on the flight.
The monkey puppeteer was traveling with his wife and seven-year-old daughter. As we waited to deplane—after letting yet another pushing/pushy man go in front of me—we chatted with the family. The mom said she learned long ago that people who have children understand that children will be children in all situations and to not get worked up about it. We thanked them—I hope profusely enough—for making our trip more fun. The dad’s simple act of spending only moments during the flight entertained Emma and Chelsea and me. He also made the trip less stressful for all the other passengers, who had the pleasure of hearing that happy toddler shriek with joy and delight.
I haven’t traveled with a toddler in many years. It’s not easy because toddlers are little people; they’re slow people; they’re inquisitive people. Airports and new situations can be stressful for parents, not to mention small humans who can be overwhelmed by the sights, activity, and people. I felt the sting of judgment and annoyance from those who stared at me while trying to get Emma off the floor those few times. Parents of little ones commiserated. At one point, I said to Emma, “Oh, no. I hope you aren’t going to be one of those children in airports who everyone talks about.” The mom with three little ones in the line next to me just smiled and said, “We’ve all been there.”
I had to give up my TSA prescreen to go through the line with Emma and her mom. That’s because they needed a bit of extra assistance. All parents traveling with children and anyone else with challenging behaviors need that bit of extra assistance and smiles and encouragement. Monkey puppets aren’t such a bad idea, either.