I have just completed a five-hour plane trip with the guy pictured above. If you see him on your plane, may I suggest that you change seats with somebody or even change planes if you can? Now, don’t get me wrong – he had a great time. As you can see from the picture below, he was only slightly perplexed that they didn’t bring his snack right away once he pressed the touch screen.
For the father traveling along with him and his angelic mother, however, different story. First of all, since I am the father in question, I couldn’t change seats to get away from him. Heroically – and I do think of this as heroic – I would not abandon his angelic mother nor abandon him in mid-flight. But I can tell you, when the flight was over, one doesn’t need to call a taxi at the airport so much as an ambulance. Preferably an ambulance to take you, sirens blaring, directly to a spa. I remember saying loudly, ‘I have to get off this plane,’ and then remembering we were still somewhere over Kansas. I remember thinking, ‘I need to order the largest container of whiskey they have on Delta,’ but then I remembered I don’t drink whiskey any more. Then I remember wondering if it would be appropriate to give some whiskey to a baby. But not just any baby, but to the one who has been kicking me in the kidney for three hours. On airplanes, they serve whiskey in those little bottles, which seem baby friendly enough.
When I suggested this option to my wife, she didn’t laugh for some reason. She is a marathoner, and she simply said, “Finish the race.” To unpack this expression a bit for non-runners, it means that even though your knee is exploding and your spleen is going to forcibly eject from your body any minute, you need to keep running. Finish the race, finish the flight. It made sense, in theory.
The most terrifying thing about babies is that there is no reasoning with them. There is little negotiation when you have little legroom. You can’t say, ‘Hey buddy, here’s the deal. You stop pounding on my kidney with your big toe and I’ll pay for college, all the way through.’ He’s just not paying attention to anything like that. He just wants to slobber on that plastic spoon you handed him. Most importantly, a father’s complaints do not matter in this context. This is because in this context we have to answer to a higher authority.
When we were leaving the plane, red eyed, mentally frayed, near collapse, no less a higher authority than the pilot says to me, ‘That’s a good baby.’ I felt like a Supreme Court decision went against me, and there was no appeal.