There's nothing quite like air travel in the peak of the vacation season! Entire families on board enmasse! Youth abounds! Strollers, car seats, stuffed animals, bulging diaper bags! Sights, smells, sounds galore!
I've never really minded when infants wail. I enjoy watching their little faces screw up tight and turn red, then their mouths open and WAAAAAAA! It's alive! And alive they most certainly are! Therein lies the beauty.
On our recent airplane flights, however, I learned the limits of my tolerance. The breaking point of the beauty is somewhere between zero and eighteen months. If the tot is older than that, the thrill is gone.
In the row behind us on our first flight sat a family. The momma, a toddler, and a nice quiet infant. In the row across from them sat daddy and older two boys, say eight and ten or so.
The toddler had a piercing wail that he freely shared with the rest of the passengers. What a generous lad! It would emanate unexpectedly from the seat behind me, the howl boring into my eardrums, causing me to startle and tense and lose my place in my book. There were no regular intervals, oh no no no! He liked to mix it up, keep us on our toes. No, he was not in pain. He was just being a little brat, a traveling parent's nightmare they share with anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. One can tell these things.
As we boarded the flight for our last leg home, it was obvious we were heading back to D.C. I chuckled at the number of passengers, all male for whatever that's worth, who were intently staring at and busily punching buttons on their Blackberries.
Then we got to the row we were to occupy and I cursed silently in disbelief. A family was behind us again! Initially I thought it was the same family that had been behind us on the first leg of our journey, but then the toddler squawked loudly. It was not the same family after all. The timber of this irritatingly squirmy and loud toddler's screeches was completely different from the first one, yet just as invasive.
I thought back to the lady I had been sitting next to on the previous flight from Montana to Minnesota. She settled in to sleep almost as soon as she sat down. All was well until she started snoring loudly. I looked at her sideways and thought "WTF?"
On the ever-so-infrequent occasion when Wendy snores, my approach is to plant my pointy elbow in her ribs until she rolls over. Or sometimes I'll pinch her nose shut, which has the same effect as my elbow in her ribs. She is quite compliant in the rolling over department.
Still, I'd rather endure the disturbance of a woman snoring in the seat next to me over a whining toddler who kicks the back of the seat and screams petulantly. I mean really. At least with the woman, I had some options. I had my elbows, after all.