Do you avoid unruly kids and clueless parents on planes?




I used to think that unless my name was Miriam Aer Lingus, and my logo was spread across the carrier’s fleet of aircraft, I’d never be able to book an exclusive airline seat as far away from bold kids and their totally oblivious parents as was humanly possible! But, joy of joys, last week, Japan Airlines announced it had proudly launched a tool on their booking site showing a seat map pinpointing where all the babies/toddlers/families were sitting – so other travellers can choose whether or not they wish to be near them! Yeeesss! Oh please, please let Aer Lingus, (the only carrier I’ll fly with, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the patient staff at East West Travel, who’ll confirm that), follow suit!

  Now before you get annoyed, let me assure you that I’m not entirely intolerant of kids on planes. Most kids are well behaved, and it’s often their parents who could benefit from being disciplined! The last time I went on holiday I had to endure a four-hour flight with, (and I’m being very diplomatic here), a disruptive four-year-old who thought kicking the back of my chair and pulling my hair was all part of the inflight entertainment package!

  And yes, I did ask the unruly little monster to stop! I did demand that his parents take control of him. However, popping a sleeping pill, mammy made it clear she was relinquishing the care of her child to a plane-load of passengers, viewing us as her personal babysitters, leaving me with no option but to shoot dagger stares at the dad. Mind you, given the kid ignored daddy’s meek little pleas, unbuckled his seat belt, banged his food tray up and down and ran screaming through the plane while mammy snored blissfully, it was clear the flight wasn’t going to go well.

  And, when the kid’s response to daddy (whose attempt at parenting was to clear his throat, twitch nervously and beg his son to “be a good boy”) was to tell his father to “shut up, stupid,” I knew no amount of complimentary prosecco was going to cut it! Therefore, much to my own hubby’s mortification, I stood up, glared at the father and loudly informed him the jellyfish I once nearly stepped on at Dollymount Strand possessed a stronger spine than he did! Yep, poor hubby nearly choked on his coffee, but the rest of the flight applauded, and mammy snored like a chainsaw!

  Now I know that families are entitled to travel with their children – of course they are. And sure wasn’t I once a parent of small children myself? However, I never took them on a flight until they were over five years’ old and could behave in an appropriate manner. And I’m not saying I want a library-silent, no-whinging flight, folks – nay, that’s totally unfair on little travellers, but I do expect to sit on a flight without being assaulted and battered by a four-year-old accompanied by a clueless mother and a cowardly father.

  Of course folks, I do realise there are some children who may misbehave due to no fault of their own, whether this is a physical or an emotional issue, and in this instance I’m actually the first to step up and offer the parents my assistance and my full support! Indeed, I understand that the interior and the confines of an aircraft can prove to be an unnatural and scary environment for many kids, especially when the change in air pressure can be painful on their ears. And to this end, crying and fidgeting are to be fully expected; however, bear in mind that a decent and caring parent will know what to do in order to comfort their child. They will not, as the kid on my flight’s parents did, consume alcohol and a sleeping pill and renounce all responsibility of the child to a cranky aul biddy like me, (mammy). Nor will they be terrified of their kids, allowing the little tearaways dictate the state of play, and assault a fellow passenger, pulling lumps out of their hair as a form of personal entertainment, (daddy).

Well done Ballintubber, you did Roscommon proud

Is your teenager boldly going nowhere? Not to worry; send them down the country to ‘Brat Camp’ – that’ll sort them out. Yep, I’m talking about RTE’s ‘Raised by the Village,’ the patronising TV programme that, in my opinion, permits producers to deceptively give viewers the impression that most Dublin teens are on the road to wreck and ruin! They’re not! Okay, I’ve said my piece. 

  And, even though I’m unhappy with the overall hypothesis of placing a focus on ‘troubled Dublin’ teens, I’ll admit that the way in which Warren from Lucan and Jordan from Darndale were welcomed and mentored by the lovely Garvey and Carley families from Ballintubber gladdened my heart. I’m proud to be their neighbours!

  Both of these families were the real deal; nurturing, loving, honest, hard-working folk, and I can see why they were chosen as mentors. And weren’t their kiddies delightful!

  In fact, I cried when Warren, who I’m sure really is an engaging young man, (once he has been given some direction and responsibility), enjoyed his time with the Garveys so much, he wanted to stay! Bless him. And by the way, how stunning is Mrs. Garvey; was that woman a supermodel in a former life?

  And, when it came to Jordan’s fabulous talons, addiction to fashion and severe allergy to getting out of the leaba, I was sure the Carleys would have their work cut out for them. I mean, given the attitude, it was safe to assume Jordan’s possibly a long-lost relative of the over-indulged Kardashian clan! But no…John and Caitriona lovingly stage-managed madam’s ‘won’t do’ attitude beautifully. And by the way, how friendly are the folk in Kenny’s shop? What a lovely place to work! Any jobs going? Mind you, I’d struggle with the till!

  Indeed readers, having allegedly been subjected to a diet of fast food, questionable designer clobber, acrylic nails, iPhones and er, bare-faced cheek, the teens were, under the guidance of the genuinely decent people of Ballintubber, fully deprogrammed. And, at the end of the show, viewers got a sense that, having tasted a slice of country life, the pair now have the potential to turn into decent Dubliners.  I admire everyone in the village of Ballintubber for playing their part in these teenagers’ lives, and I could visibly see the transformation taking place. Oh, I have to mention the delightful Roscommon Mart auctioneer Hugh Mulvihill, whose kind gesture of sharing his commission with Warren was, for me, the highlight of the entire episode – for the simple reason that one act served to give that kid a sense of worth and a sense of pride. Comhghairdeas Hugh; you’re a diamond!