Moms on Planes with Toddlers Should Relax; Dads Do

by Celia Rivenbark


jellybeansWhen I realized there was a toddler sitting behind me on a recent flight, I began to wonder what might be in my “adult goodie bag” that parents have taken to handing out in advance to apologize for any screaming, seat-kicking, etc. that might break out during air travel.
These bags usually have a sweet little note of apology, ostensibly written by the infant (“It’s my first flight!”) a couple of miniature candy bars, foam ear plugs and maybe some jellybeans.

What am I? 5?

How about a couple of mini bottles, some high-end noise-canceling headphones or maybe a fleece blankie from The Company Store? I’ll exchange contact information and you can have it monogrammed later. I’d really like that.

Jellybeans? Have you seen my dental work? I don’t flippin’ think so.

There has been a lot written lately about this trend of the beleaguered, Pinterest-crazed moms doling out bribery, er, goodie bags to seatmates. Notice I didn’t say dads. I have yet to hear of a dad doing anything so inherently goofy. It’s not that they’re inconsiderate. It’s just that there’s no way they are going to spend valuable free time that could be used to craft the perfect fantasy football team assembling goodie bags for total strangers. The male response to such a notion would be: “Who cares? It’s not like we’re ever going to see these people again.”


Ladies, please. Let’s stop this nonsense of making more work for ourselves. And while it all seems very, we-are-the-worldish on the surface, it’s honestly more of a random act of passive aggression if you’re being honest. As you smilingly toss a Ziploc goodie bag to your fellow passengers, you are saying, without words: “Look. I gave you the M&Ms, so now you have to pretend you like me and my kid or you’re kind of a jerk.”

And nobody wants that label, especially in close quarters. So you are forced to act like all you’ve ever wanted in your whole life was a bag of candy from the Dollar Tree and a travel pack of tissues. You HAVE to accept the goodie bag even if you think it’s a contract that you really don’t want to sign.

But, more to the point, why apologize for your kid? Toddlers, especially, don’t need an agent to explain that they’re going to be difficult on a flight. Everybody expects that. It’s life. Deal with it. Move on.

On that flight with the toddler behind me, the mom spent the entire two hours duck-walking her baby up and down the aisle. She never sat down once. (“See how hard I work to keep him quiet? Please love us!”)

Ugh. Stop caring so much what 119 strangers think about you. You can’t duck-walk your kid across the stage at his high school graduation. Or, to put it another way, put your own oxygen mask on first, then assist your child.


Rivenbark is the author of seven humor collections. Visit her website at ©2016 Celia Rivenbark. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.