UXBRIDGE, MA – Feb 23, 2017 – IYAAP Blog – Three Ritalin-starved ninjas practiced their punching and kicking techniques on the back of my seat, 27B, during the climb out of Boston en route to Chicago. Across the aisle behind me, the father ducked fatherhood by shielding his face with the in-flight magazine, conveniently located in the seat pocket in front of him, more interested in the best steakhouses of Chicago or the Top Plastic Surgeons in New York than with the behavior of his children. Seated next to the dad, the mom issued hollow threats of revoking fun privileges if the kids didn’t settle down. But neither the kids nor I believed she’d follow through with any of her threats. So, the foolishness continued. And my frustration grew.
I don’t mind crying babies. I don’t mind snorers. I don’t even mind loudmouth passengers who want everyone within earshot to hear their life stories after they’ve cornered their unsuspecting prey in the adjacent seat. I can tune all that stuff out – awake or asleep – without headphones or earplugs. But the seat-kicking, the repeated up-and-down flipping of the tray table, or the pulling on the back of my headrest to pull oneself out of the seat, turning my seat into a catapult upon release…that stuff! That stuff drives me nuts.
I closed my eyes and planned my counterattack on the enemy behind me.
As a general rule these days, without an introduction from the parents, I don’t address children I don’t know. When my kids were young, I taught them not to speak to strangers. Conversely, I don’t expect children I don’t know to speak to me. And when I see strangers talking to my kids, I intervene. No First Contact. But then again, if I ever saw my kids acting like the kids behind me were acting, I’d put a stop to it.
My kids were fun when they were that young….
WHAP! WHAP! WHAP! I jumped forward, startled by another assault on the back of my seat.
“Please, guys, please! Stop kicking my seat,” I turned and pleaded through the spaces in between the seats. So much for the Prime Directive. I smiled kindly as I spoke, in case John Quiñones and his hidden camera crew lurked about. But when I turned to look toward the parents across the aisle, my smile became much less genuine, and I garnished it with a splash of Stink Eye.
The ninjas froze, stunned by being called out for their obnoxious behavior. They didn’t know me. They didn’t know if my threats had consequences.
I settled back into my seat. Closing my eyes again, I couldn’t help but think, “Am I the jerk?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have passed ten thousand feet. It is now safe to use approved portable electronic devices….”
The mom handed a tablet to each of the ninjas. No more punching. No more kicking. No more turbulence.
The captain turned off the Fasten Seat Belts sign.
“Good parenting,” I thought.
I pushed the button on the armrest of my seat. I closed my eyes and reclined.