IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was Toddler-Shamed On An Airplane

I flew with a toddler who was more well behaved than the passengers.
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Dominga Weicht
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I flew with a toddler who was more well behaved than the passengers.
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A few years ago my husband took a sales position for the same company I worked for but it required us to move to Arizona. 

He moved out first and secured a rental home for us. I stayed behind to pack the house and attend to the movers. I was fortunate enough to be able to fly out a few times while we were transitioning.

The flight itself was about 3.5 hours and I had a 2-year-old in tow. I am one of the hyper vigilant parents who are always afraid of disturbing someone else. Knowing this, I made sure I packed plenty of entertainment, sippy cups and pacifiers for my son. 

My seat was near the front of the plane, but I had a large carry-on to accommodate the things you need for a child and of course the child. My son was already about 30 pounds and since I am only 100 that is a pretty good amount to carry.

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I found my seat at the front of a cramped plane and sat down as gracefully as I could with a child in tow and my large bag. The two men next to me promptly give me a dirty look, like I cannot believe you have the audacity to bring a toddler on to a plane. 

Great, this was going to be a long ride, I thought to myself. At least I was on the aisle so I would not disturb them when I got up to change him.

I settled my son on my lap and tucked the bag under the seat in front of me leaving it partially unzipped to get out things as needed. I pulled out his sippy cup and within 10 minutes he was sound asleep. The plane took off and we leveled out. We taxied out and took off. My son slept through it all.

As soon as the flight attendants started to circulate, the man in the middle seat flagged one down. He reached over me and asked in an almost disgusted tone if she could possibly move me and my son to another seat. I looked at him like he had three heads. 

Did I smell? Did my son smell? Was the fact that I might use the seat tray an issue? Did the strap on my bag cross some invisible line on the floor? Nope, none of these things occurred.

I thought, Really? My son is asleep, there is no way the attendant will have me move, right? I paid for this seat and purposely chose the front so I could exit faster. I had every right to stay in my seat. Wrong. 

Apparently this pair had sat by a child one too many times and rather than be kind to me and my quiet child they just wanted us gone.

The flustered flight attendant said she would see what was available. She came back in about 30 seconds and said there was room at the back of the plane. The men both said, Good, then looked at me like I should be grateful and run to the new seats far from them. 

I reluctantly got up, with no help from either of them or the attendant. I drug, literally drug my bag to the rear of the plane while trying to balance myself, my son who was sound asleep and not hit anyone on the way. Mind you I was in row 5 and was being sent to the second to last row on a 747 size plane.

My carry-on bag caught on an arm rest, jerking me backward. I was almost in tears at this point. NO ONE offered to help. My son woke up from the jolt.

After what seemed like an eternity but was in reality just seconds, I made it to the back of the plane to a blessedly empty row and dropped my things on the ground. I felt like I had a glowing sign above me that said I was being banished to the back row and wondered if the reception would be the same there. Thankfully it was not.

I sat with tears running down my face and consoled my now AWAKE son. After 30 minutes I was finally able to get him back to sleep and stretch out myself, my tiny stature allowing me to completely lie down on the three seats with my son on my chest.

In the end it worked out better for me. My son slept and so did I. We disturbed no one but I was truly dumbfounded at the audacity of the men and the lack of help from the flight attendant.