Have you had to spend time in a plane with those passengers? You know the ones? The screaming child with his temper tantrum and parents that just won’t do a thing.
What a horrible situation, right? They just have no respect for other passengers.
And no DISCIPLINE!
Why don’t they discipline that child? Why they even have a child if they don’t know how to raise him?
Shouldn’t their parental rights be revoked?
At least, shouldn’t they be shot out of the plane? Or put on a black list so they can never buy a ticket? EVER!
I’ve been there; I’ve felt that, I’ve thought that, I’ve done that.
First when I was single. I used to think everything would be right if the parents would just FIX their children.
I mean, I knew how to behave, right?
My parents taught me to respect public spaces.
I’ve always behaved, as far as I can remember.
Not many of us remember how we behaved when we were under two years old, though. Not even how we behaved when we were four years old.
And then I have been in the spot of the parent.
When my son was four years old we went to visit my family to Finland for the first time in his life.
I must explain that my son has ADHD. It is not a very severe case, he does not have medication but it does make his life a bit more difficult than the life of other children and people.
He needs to try harder, work harder, concentrate harder, fix his mistakes, try out again, and repeat so many times, that it just breaks my heart.
And I know he doesn’t want to behave the way he does. I can see when the impulses take over.
It’s not my sweet, gentle son, who loves animals and always fights for the underdog, is respectful and kind and overall well behaved.
But it is so hard to explain to someone else how much we train at home. How much he WORKS to control his impulses. How much he tries to win them and how many times he fails, cries and has to ask forgiveness for something he did, because he just couldn’t control himself.
When he goes on an overload and his impulses take over he turns into a screaming, punching, kicking mess of temper tantrum.
Usually I can recognize these situation beforehand and take charge.
That is what a mother is for, right? To take charge, to be the safety valve, the fix up system, to raise her child.
The biggest problems are when his schedule is changed, when he doesn’t eat at the right time, or sleep at the right time.
Also any kind of change is a big problem. Change from the usual schedule. Or change from the usual environment.
He has a lot of difficulties with new things. When there is too much new happening, he goes to a sensory overload and the impulses take over.
I knew this when we loaded that plane.
And I was prepared.
I had a MiniDVD player with all of his favorite movies with us.
I had a new coloring book and an old coloring book.
I had new and old colors.
I had some old toys and some new toys.
I had activity books and his favorite children’s story book.
The old things were to give him safety, the new things to make playing and coloring more interesting.
But it was too much.
|Student from Baeza's Special Education school waiting to get to the school bus.|
The adults must have enjoyed the new tastes, but my four year old sure didn’t want to try spicy mashed sweet potatoes with mixed vegetable and meat sauce.
And, no I couldn’t bring anything to drink for him. And no, it was not possible to bring any homemade food that he would have eaten to the plane.
Thank you airline policies and international terrorism. And I know it wasn’t against me, or us, personally. But at that moment it sure felt like it.
All he ate through the 12 hour flight was few bags of roasted almonds.
After four hours we landed in Bonaire, Caribe. He stood up and with a huge smile, he asked: Are we there, yet?
Any parent knows that it’s all downhill from here on.
Well, an ADHD parent knows that downhill to hell is small to describe what is going to happen.
So, we spent an hour in intense Caribbean heat, outside of the plane, waiting for the airport cleaning crew to get finished.
And listening to my son wailing his lungs out.
I carried him around. I tried to buy him snacks (there was nothing at the airport, just cheese).
I sung to him. I tried to read to him. I tried to play with him.
Finally I was ready to cry with him.
But that doesn’t work.
So, I continued to carry him around, while singing him louder and louder, trying to outsing his wailing.
I think the copassengers where thinking that I should have just smacked him. Wish it were that easy.
Smack, it’s off.
Well, my son is a human. Not a mechanical toy. There’s no off button.
Back in the plane, the temper tantrum started in full blow.
My son announced that he wanted down. He wanted back to home. He was tired of traveling and didn’t want to go on.
I did my best to explain to a four year old, why it was not possible.
And then it happened.
He started screaming, swearing, kicking and punching.
What I didn’t take into consideration was the person sitting on the other side of him.
There are always three seats or more, so of course, there was a person on the other side of him.
And sadly, horribly, instead of hitting and punching his mom that, after all, was quite used to it and knew how to grab him and hold him, to calm him down.
He started to kick and punch the gentleman, in a very beautiful suit, sitting next to him.
It was horrible to watch and went on for quite a while until I got a good grab of him and was able to calm him down.
And because there was such a sensory overload going on, it happened again, and again, and again.
And the gentleman next to us?
He graciously accepted my apology, every time.
I saw his look of horror when he thought I wasn’t watching, though. But he never ever complained or raised his voice or showed any anger towards my son.
Which would have, of course, made the situation even worse.
Besides him, the airline attendants were saving angels.
When they saw that my son wouldn’t eat, they saved bags of roasted almonds for him and orange juice.
They gave him a huge bag of goodies and he was happy at least for an hour just looking through it at all his treasure.
People can be so good.
I know it was a difficult situation for everyone on the plane.
It was made quite clear to me by many of the other passengers.
I know that if I had been on that plane before my son was born, I would have been one of them also.
When we got back after our visit, I was even more prepared.
But so was my son.
Now he knew what was going on and he had no problem with the flight.
He actually enjoyed it immensely.
I don’t know the name of the gentleman next to us or the names of the attendants.
But they sure showed us that people can have kindness and understanding in their hearts.