Hey!

 

It was one shout too many.

We were returning home from a weekend celebrating the marriage of a dear cousin of ours. As we entered the jet plane, we saw lots of families and kids, so we anticipated the possibility of angry infants and restless toddlers. As I settled into my seat, I heard a shout—hey!—from the child directly behind me, who was neither a toddler nor an infant. I took a deep breath and hoped he’d settle down.

He didn’t.

As the plane took off, the little guy behind me randomly would just shout “hey,” followed by a shush from his mother, which was tolerable while I read on my Kindle. But after several times of drifting off to sleep and his voice jerking me awake, my patience finally vanished into thin air. I undid my seat belt, turned around, kneeled on my seat and glared at the little guy and said HEY! I asked, did I scare you? Followed by, when you shout hey, you scare me!

My heart jerked for a moment. He was a little guy, a flaming redhead with coke-bottle glasses. His head turned to one parent, then to the other. His mother then spoke up and said, he’s only four and this is his first flight. I responded with, well, I’m old. And then in my indoor voice, I repeated, I’m old. During this entire exchange, the little guy’s father, with his bizarre haircut and his arms covered with tattoos, kept his nose buried in his book.

I turned around and sat down, snapped on my seat belt, and waited to hear the next hey from behind me.

Not a peep.

I drifted in and out of sleep. As we approached Orlando, about 1.5 hours after the incident, I heard the little guy murmuring to his parents, asking them if the lady was still sleeping. I suspect they reassured him that he could speak at that point. So in a not-so-loud voice, I heard him say, zip it! Several times. I don’t know if it was directed at anyone in particular, and I suspect he was imitating a regular retort from his parents. I considered thanking him for not shouting anymore before I disembarked, but I felt I’d sufficiently made my point.

*     *     *     *

This incident brought up so many issues for me; I can’t stop thinking about it. I thought about whether I should have kept my mouth shut. I wondered if his parents often indulged his inappropriate behavior. I asked myself if he was old enough to understand the implications of his actions. (I didn’t raise children myself.)

Isn’t it important for children to learn early the limitations of their freedom? That shouting on the playground is wonderful, but not in a crowded airplane? Aren’t we preparing them for life when they learn to be respectful of us old codgers? Do parents worry too much about looking like “mean” parents?

All in all, I think my reaction was understandable. But appropriate? I don’t know.

I hope his parents learned a lesson, too.

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    As Reddit would say, NTA. (I’ll let you look that up)

    Everybody needs a “Get off my lawn!” moment.

    He seemed to have learned and mom and dad didn’t bow up.

    You did fine.

     

     

    • #1
  2. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Good for you.  Right down the middle, no issues.

    The child will forget.  The parents will remember.  Direct hit!

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Instugator (View Comment):
    As Reddit would say, NTA. (I’ll let you look that up)

    Hey (oops), I like it! It may be my new watch phrase! Thanks, Instugator!

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    BDB (View Comment):

    Good for you. Right down the middle, no issues.

    The child will forget. The parents will remember. Direct hit!

    Thanks, BDB. I appreciate that.

    • #4
  5. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    Over the past 25 years I’ve logged north of 2 million miles – and that’s only on my primary airline.  I realized shortly after starting out that the problem with air travel is NOT the airlines or the airline employees.  It is my fellow passengers.

    You were setting boundaries SQ.  Perfectly legit.

    • #5
  6. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    You have a right to your space @susanquinn. What is a shame is that the young boy’s parents didn’t do their job, so you had to do it for them. Good for you! You taught him a lesson without causing any harm. His parents should have apologized and thanked you.

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Little children don’t bother me. I just smile at the harried parent(s) as they fuss with their rambunctious bundle of joy. Normally, I’m not trying to get to sleep though.

    The only incident that comes to mind was a few years ago. I was standing in the checkout line of a store. The young mother behind me had a very small child, and one that was around four years old, whom I will call ‘Cyril.’  Cyril wanted candy. Cyril wanted gum. Cyril wanted to know the name of the lady on the cover of the magazine in the rack. Cyril was more than merely ambulatory, he was a little boy going places, and his mother was trying to deal with the clerk, the contents of her purse, her other younger child, all while Cyril caromed about the store finding other things to occupy him. “Cyril, don’t … Cyril, put that back … Cyril, please not now!”

    It wasn’t my business. It wasn’t my place. Nobody asked me. Did that stop me? Naaah …

    Towering over him, in my deepest tone: “Cyril, mind your mother.”

    Cyril’s eyes grew to the size of saucers as he ducked behind one of his mother’s legs, whatever his next act of minor mischief wiped from his head.

    Mom could have blown up at me. It wasn’t my business, as I said. But I got a shy smile and a mouthed “thank you” instead. And, the transaction concluded, they were off. Cyril kept an eye on me all the way out of the store.

    Maybe it was my Resting Thug Face.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):
    Towering over him, in my deepest tone: “Cyril, mind your mother.”

    Outstanding! What a great story. That mother will never forget you.

    • #8
  9. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Hah!  Well done!  Sometimes it does “take a village”.

    /me runs away….

    • #9
  10. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Children rarely bother me, partially because I am pretty resistant to stimulus.

    But in some cases, I have been known to growl, thus terrifying them into quivering submission. I admit that I enjoy this when I do it. Children somehow (accurately) sense that I am naturally prone to violence, and they turtle like nobody’s business. 

    I rationalize my behavior without much difficulty.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe (View Comment):
    But in some cases, I have been known to growl, thus terrifying them into quivering submission. I admit that I enjoy this when I do it. Children somehow (accurately) sense that I am naturally prone to violence, and they turtle like nobody’s business. 

    You crack me up! I’m sure you’ve had ample opportunity to develop your growling skills!

    • #11
  12. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #12
  13. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Similar story.  My wife, daughter and I were having lunch in the Fairway Cafe.  You may have heard of this place, as it made statewide, if not national news….wait let me just see….no I think just statewide news…for refusing to implement the governor’s COVID restrictions.  

    Anyway, my wife, daughter and I were having lunch there just a week or so ago.  These three adult women were at another table, close by, and they kept erupting in cackling laughter.  It was so loud that we literally could not talk to our server without shouting.  I was “this close” to hollering at them “shut the f*** up!”, I mean I was about to say it, when they got up and left.  

    Some people really don’t have consideration for others.  I think you did well in your circumstance.  Better than I was about to.  

    • #13
  14. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    A few years ago, when I was still in Phoenix, my sister and a couple brothers and our mother came down to visit in Feb, as they did most years to escape the cold at home.  Some of them had visited before, but I think it was the first time Mom came too.

    We went to an IHOP near my place, and the waitress (or whatever the current term is) took us to a dining area that was empty except for one or two other groups of people, and was going to put us right next to them, probably just to save herself steps.

    I simply asked “Excuse me, but these are my brothers/sister/mom visiting me for the first time in years, could you put us someplace separate so we can talk easily?”  And she did.  My brothers/sister thanked me for making the effort.

    Often, all it takes is asking.

    Not really an option on an airplane, of course.

    • #14
  15. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    That’s kind of hilarious……it might have been his way of wanting you to talk to him.  His behavior sounded about right for a four year old. Wonder if they brought any toys or coloring books for him – all the kids I see nowadays even have their own electronic device……Maybe next time…..zip it!  :-)

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Often, all it takes is asking.

    I heartily agree, kedavis. I don’t know that I’ve ever been turned down to change locations in a restaurant; I don’t make a habit of it, but it sure can  help special conversations!

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    That’s kind of hilarious……it might have been his way of wanting you to talk to him. His behavior sounded about right for a four year old. Wonder if they brought any toys or coloring books for him – all the kids I see nowadays even have their own electronic device……Maybe next time…..zip it! :-)

    Interesting! I don’t know if they brought anything for him to amuse himself. I wonder if his eyesight was an issue, given his glasses. 

    • #17
  18. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Susan Quinn: I hope his parents learned a lesson, too.

    Probably shouldn’t count on it.  It seems that parents and dog owners are very similar. The child or dog misbehaves.  The parent or owner says, “Jimmy! or Fido!  You know better than that.”   Riiiight. What they do know is they can keep on doing whatever it is that they are doing and nothing will happen.

    Kids kicking your seat, yelling, whining.  Dogs barking hysterically, jumping up on you, licking your ankles.  Parents and owners seemingly helpless, weak smiles, protests of “I can’t imagine why they’re doing this.”

    I could tell them why they’re doing it – because you are lazy or ineffectual parents/owners and haven’t trained them.  I could – but it wouldn’t do any good.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EB (View Comment):
    I could tell them why they’re doing it – because you are lazy or ineffectual parents/owners and haven’t trained them.  I could – but it wouldn’t do any good.

    You are absolutely right, for the reasons you state. We had a dog we loved to dog-sit, and she was great with us. And when she went home, she’d get into her usual mischief. It amazes me the number of people who, with children and pets, are unwilling to show discipline. I just don’t get it. Can they all be lazy and ineffectual, EB?

    • #19
  20. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EB (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I hope his parents learned a lesson, too.

    Probably shouldn’t count on it. It seems that parents and dog owners are very similar. The child or dog misbehaves. The parent or owner says, “Jimmy! or Fido! You know better than that.” Riiiight. What they do know is they can keep on doing whatever it is that they are doing and nothing will happen.

    Kids kicking your seat, yelling, whining. Dogs barking hysterically, jumping up on you, licking your ankles. Parents and owners seemingly helpless, weak smiles, protests of “I can’t imagine why they’re doing this.”

    I could tell them why they’re doing it – because you are lazy or ineffectual parents/owners and haven’t trained them. I could – but it wouldn’t do any good.

     

    • #20
  21. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Often, all it takes is asking.

    I heartily agree, kedavis. I don’t know that I’ve ever been turned down to change locations in a restaurant; I don’t make a habit of it, but it sure can help special conversations!

    It was a courtesy to the other people too, they didn’t need to be sitting next to our conversations any more than we wanted to be sitting next to theirs.

    • #21
  22. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    On a transatlantic flight, my wife volunteered to walk a really unhappy baby in the aisle to relieve frazzled parents.  She has the touch and the parents were distraught that it was bothering others. 

    I go out of my way to absolve parents who are making an effort.  I have contempt for those parents who don’t, the ones who teach their little brats that they are entitled to act out with impunity. 

    Sometimes you can distract or bribe a little kid but often there is nothing you can do.

    • #22
  23. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    As the parent of two little girls I say thank you for speaking up.  It’s hard to know what the parents were dealing with or what was usual, even if you’re willing to assume in good faith that they were trying to keep up.  My spouse and I aren’t always on the same page when it comes to wrangling the kids, with her being for more tolerant of unacceptable behavior than I; however, tight spaces like planes aren’t the places to ratchet up an argument on the limits for little hellions.  However, an intervening 3rd party making it known that the limits of tolerance are nearly up can produce positive results.

    I recall as a youngster on a couple occasions when other adults put my brother or I in line with our parents expectations and it left an impression on me.  I didn’t care for it much then, but looking back now it was good to see that others weren’t content to let bad behavior go unnoticed and unconfronted.

    It would be funny if you’d heard the mom behind you say “You better listen junior, she’s old and she probably didn’t get that way by letting nasty little kids get their way.”

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    jmelvin (View Comment):
    It would be funny if you’d heard the mom behind you say “You better listen junior, she’s old and she probably didn’t get that way by letting nasty little kids get their way.”

    I would have loved it! It would have at least provided a moment of lightness–the wicked old witch of the west!

    • #24
  25. Terri Mauro Coolidge
    Terri Mauro
    @TerriMauro

    As the parent of a kid with a developmental disability, I tend to look at everything through those glasses, and in this case I’d wonder if maybe the boy was autistic or had other neurological reasons for the outbursts. My son could sometimes be scared out of compulsive behaviors, so the fact that he stopped after you spoke to him doesn’t necessarily mean it was just bad behavior. Though it probably was just bad behavior—I’m not saying it wasn’t. Just that I tend to give parents a lot of benefit of the doubt because it can be hard to know what’s going on.

    My son’s particular annoying airplane behavior was kicking the seat in front, which he could very easily do while he was in a car seat. I often wondered what was more annoying for my unfortunate fellow passenger, him kicking or me constantly telling him to stop. Our best solution was to just make sure someone in our party was in that seat in front of him, and then he could kick all he wanted. He also very much enjoyed pulling the tray table up and down, up and down, up and down. A colorful picture taped over the latch was our solution to that.

    Worst time I ever had with a kid on a plane, though, was when we were bringing our kids home from Russia after adopting them. Our daughter, then 4 1/2 and having been in an orphanage for most of her life, had been an absolute champ all through our travels, apparently enchanted by suddenly having adults and toys and clothes and sneakers and all sorts of stuff that was all hers. Only problem came when were were finally, finally, hallelujah, landing back in the United States, and the stewardess demanded that all tray tables be secured. My daughter was coloring, and not interested in stopping that activity, and proceeded to wail. We didn’t speak her language, we couldn’t explain anything to her, and we couldn’t explain our situation to every passenger shooting daggers at us for letting a kid that old act that bad. That was a long landing.

    • #25
  26. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I have an extraordinary tolerance for kid-noise, and noisy people on airplanes don’t bother me — nor keep me awake.

    But I have a pet peeve, a real rottweiler of pet peeves, for kids who don’t respond to instruction and parents who tolerate their kids not responding to instruction. (So you’re saying there’s a reason your sons all moved out at or before 18?) That really bugs me.

    I know it’s mandatory old-guy behavior to comment on how much worse kids are today than they were when I was young. But kids are worse today than they were when I was young — little boys in particular.

    I remember an occasion about fifteen years ago when I was driving through a neighborhood somewhere in Missouri and came across two or three young men on their bikes. They were probably ten or eleven, typical little boys out biking on a summer afternoon. They’d paused in the road to talk, and one of them was straddling his bike right in the middle of the road, in my lane. I could see him from half way down the block, so I slowed down to a crawl as I approached, figuring he’d see me and move.

    He saw me alright. He watched me roll up until I was just a few feet away, stared me straight in the eye, and didn’t move an inch: the brazen little bastard (speculation on my part; I know nothing of his parentage) was cold as ice. I considered getting out of my vehicle and bending all of the spokes on his bike, to teach the young gentleman a lesson, but thought that might result in the police being called. So I just drove around him instead and went on my way.

    I’ve noticed something similar many times since then. When I was a kid, young people didn’t engage strange adult men. I don’t know when that changed, but I liked it better the other way.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Terri Mauro (View Comment):
    Coolidge Terri Mauro @TerriMauro 9 Minutes Ago

    As the parent of a kid with a developmental disability, I tend to look at everything through those glasses, and in this case I’d wonder if maybe the boy was autistic or had other neurological reasons for the outbursts.

    After I actually turned around and saw him, I wondered the same thing, Terri. So if I’d known, I might have made a different choice. Thanks for pointing out this possibility.

    • #27
  28. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But I have a pet peeve, a real rottweiler of pet peeves, for kids who don’t respond to instruction and parents who tolerate their kids not responding to instruction. (So you’re saying there’s a reason your sons all moved out at or before 18?) That really bugs me.

    I volunteered in Sunday school one year.  After that year was up I got a call from the Sunday school director.  She asked if I could be counted on for the following year.  I said “No, I don’t think I’m the right person for the job.”  She asked me why, and I told her “I have a very low tolerance for kids who don’t do what they are told, when they are told.” 

    She never asked me to help again.  Oops!

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Spin (View Comment):
    “I have a very low tolerance for kids who don’t do what they are told, when they are told.” 

    Makes sense to me, Spin!

    • #29
  30. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):
    “I have a very low tolerance for kids who don’t do what they are told, when they are told.”

    Makes sense to me, Spin!

    This may be why my kids all tell me that their friends are afraid of me.

    Hey! (swIdt?) I’m a real nice guy!  

    • #30
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