I swore that when I became a father it would never happen on my watch but it did. No matter how much I tried there was nothing I could do to make him stop.
My son had become “that kid” on the plane.
“Jake” was the name everyone on board dreaded. Jake was “that kid” for whom my wife and I spent the entire two-and-a-half-hour flight from Florida apologizing. All we could do was repeat our pathetic plea that “he’s really a sweet little boy once you get to know him.”
It started with one of his toys. We brought his Leap Pad with us to keep him distracted. We never thought he’d refuse to turn down the volume. Maybe we should have. And we forgot the headphones. We tried, but he screamed whenever we even went near his ears.
We begged him to stop but he kept opening and shutting the tray table and even kicked the seat in front of him so much that its occupant had to turn around several times. The guy’s wife offered us her headphones but nothing could be done to stop him. Even Elmo would have had found it difficult not to give him a smack. But we managed to refrain from corporal punishment.
He blindsided us. We shouldn’t have let him. But the shock to us wasn’t that our son was behaving the way many 3-year-olds behave when strapped into a seat on an airplane. What surprised us was that on the flight to Florida two days earlier, Jake was as quiet and well behaved as we had ever seen him. After that first flight, we were actually bragging that we had “turned the corner with him,” that from then on were destined to raise the most well behaved child ever to be born. WRONG!
There wasn’t a moment on that aircraft we could relax without fear of the pilot, like Harrison Ford in Air Force One, kicking the three of us off.
“Get off of my plane!!!” he yell, veins bulging everywhere on his face.
By the time we landed at LaGuardia, Lori and I needed another vacation just to get over the trip home. And Jake, he thought nothing of it. Getting off the plane, he kept asking other travelers, “What’s your name?”
A version of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet previous appeared on NYC Dads Group.