It has been many years since I last travelled abroad with a two year old (21 in fact), but I can still vividly recall how exhausting it can be.
Carrying all the kit, including buggy, changing bag, food, drink and toys is bad enough, but the real stress is in toddler mood management. A happy and engaged small child is good company. A bored or otherwise unhappy small child is not.
We never flew long haul back then, as the thought of it was offputting, (and, yes, expensive), but even short haul flights to places like Portugal or Minorca, were like going on an expedition into the outback.
It was much easier to pack everything into the car and head off to Centerparcs. The motion of the car was a fantastic sedative for little ones, there were no restrictions on carrying any liquids or foods such as favoured chocolate spreads or fruit juices, not available abroad, and any disturbances during waking moments under way were endured only by parents, well used to managing loud mood swings and other demands.
This same sort of personal freedom is not available in the air (unless you are part of the Trump family or similar).
Mind you, having said this, the way some people behave, you would think the cabin is their own living room and fellow passengers are there for the amusement of their offspring (other peoples’ children ). I have endured several long haul overnight flights with ear plugs and noise cancelling headphones on, trying to drown out the noise of screaming infants, whose parents seem unable or unwilling to utilise the old favourites, such as milk, teething gel, any form of comfort or distraction. They have put their baby filter on, and it is tough luck for anyone else.
I have seen (not so little) kids running up and down the aisles, playing British bulldog, or tag, disrupting meal service and knocking over drinks, with not a hint of parental intervention. And then there is my personal favourite – the back of the seat being kicked incessantly – again – with no element of parental control or apology.
These days, of course, one dare not make a fuss. The parent, when you find them, may be a paid-up member of the English Defence League, with “love” and “hate” tattooed on knuckles the size of pigs’ trotters or, worse, a representative of Snowflakes International , who will record any complaints on a smartphone and denounce you on Facebook as a fascist child hater. That sort of thing can go viral and you will end up with hate mail and stalkers.
So, we just sit there and put up with it.
Being of modest temperament and build and conscious that others have rights as well as ourselves and our children and grandchild, we are, with some trepidation, about to embark on a long haul journey to Florida, with grandson in the party.
I know I am biased, but he is a very well behaved and charming little chap and will be no trouble to anyone. He travels with parents and grandparents-; essentially, four full- time minders and entertainers. He has his own inter -terminal transport in the form of a trunki, full of essentials, such as sticker books, colouring pads, toys, knick knacks and Roary, the lion. The box sets on our iPads have been deleted to make way for c beebies favourites, and we believe we are prepared.
He loves all forms of transport, especially diggers and tractors, but aeroplanes are right up there, so, all in all, I am hoping he will enjoy the flights.
Anyway – here’s hoping….. and if you are on our flights – I will get my apologies in early – just in case….