Toddler terrorism

Father David Epps's picture

In a story dated Jan. 23 posted on AmericaOnLine, “AirTran Airways defended its decision to remove a Massachusetts couple from a flight after their crying 3-year-old daughter refused to take her seat before takeoff. AirTran officials said they followed Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seat belt upon takeoff.’

“’The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family,’ AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said. Julie and Gerry Kulesza, who were headed home to Boston on Jan. 14 from Fort Myers, said they just needed a little more time to calm their daughter, Elly.

“’We weren’t given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything,’ Julie Kulesza said in a telephone interview Tuesday. The Kuleszas said they told a flight attendant they had paid for their daughter’s seat, but asked whether she could sit in her mother’s lap. The request was denied. She was removed because ‘she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn’t get in her seat’ during boarding, Graham-Weaver said.

“The Orlando-based carrier reimbursed the family $595.80, the cost of the three tickets, and the Kuleszas flew home the next day. They also were offered three roundtrip tickets anywhere the airline flies, Graham-Weaver said. The father said his family would never fly AirTran again.”

Well, that’s great news for AirTran passengers! I love kids. I helped to raise three sons and am the proud grandfather of nine grandchildren (three boys, six girls), so I have great sympathies for parents who encounter stubborn children. However, it seems to me that an increasing number of parents are falling victim to “toddler-terrorism.”

You see the little toddler-terrorists everywhere these days. I once watched a 6-year-old boy slap his mother full in the face in a public place. Her response? “Now honey, you must not do that,” as he continued to rage and wail. His reason? Mommy said he would have to wait to get something he was demanding.

A few months ago, in a large bookstore, a mother was gently dragging her little toddler-terrorist toward the checkout counter. The daughter was purple with rage, screaming loud enough to be heard in the next county, and flailing her arms and kicking because her mother hadn’t bought her what she wanted. The mother looked at my horrified face and said with a smile, “Well, what can one do?”

I can think of a few things one can do, none pleasant for the toddler-terrorist. Oh, and the mother did relent and give in to the terrorist’s demands.

It is common in restaurants to observe children running through the place, chasing each other, screaming, and ruining the meals of other patrons. My children never did that. All it took, when they began to misbehave, was one question from me: “Do we need to go to the rest room?” They understood that the question was their only warning. Once we were headed for the rest room (assuming they didn’t ask to go for reasons of necessity), their doom was sealed. Usually, each child only had to go to the rest room once before enlightenment came.

I refuse to believe that two grown adults cannot put a 3-year-old girl in an airline seat. For the record, here’s how you do it: (1) Pick her up (2) Put her in the seat (3) Fasten the seat belt. Now wasn’t that simple?

It drives me nuts to see parents try to reason with, cajole, bribe, or beg when it comes to disciplining small children. Toddlers do not understand reason, and cajoling, bribing and begging put the parent at the mercy of the toddler-terrorist, something the children figure out in a hurry.

In a poll conducted by AOL regarding the question, “With whom do your sympathies lie most?” in the AirTran incident, the response of over 260,000 people produced the following results:

The other flyers – 69 percent
The airline – 18 percent
The parents – 10 percent
The kid – 2 percent

It may be that parents raising toddler-terrorists are not aware that their kids inflicts misery on the people around them — fliers, shoppers, diners, or others unfortunate enough to be in their presence.

The parents need to overcome their denial now before these kids morph into “teenage terrorists,” which will make these early days seem like a walk in the park.

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SouthernBelle's picture
Submitted by SouthernBelle on Sat, 02/03/2007 - 10:58pm.

I OFTEN get complimented for my son's behavior when we are out. I WILL NOT put up with my child acting like a wild animal. He can do that at home, but if I'm out in public, I expect him to act like a human being. I also come prepared for being in public. I bring things for him to do and play with, snacks, drinks, you name it, its in my diaper bag. I don't think anyone else should have to listen to my child scream, nor do I think anyone else should trip over my child when we are dining out (which, I have to add, happens RARELY) It drives me nuts when I see some other kid acting crazy out in public. I just look at my son and I tell him "THAT, my dear, will get you in more trouble than you can handle, so DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, now, here's a bit of space fruit" (Space Fruit is our name for freeze-dried fruit!) Anyways, back to the subject; I just don't think other people should have to put up with my child acting up, so either he doesn't act up, or if (he rarely does) but if he does act up, its because he's tired, or hungry, or bored, and I'll feed him, or take him home and put him to bed, or I'll play a game with him. Parenting means making sacrifices and so many parents nowadays want to have it all, and then some. They don't want to miss their dinner out, seeing how as they don't have to cook something; nor do they want to miss their flight, or shopping trip. I didn't get on a plane until I was 16, we drove everywhere. Its a lot easier to "turn this car around" than it is to "stop this plane." I also agree that so many parents are sending their kids to school or daycare (I used to work in daycare, I KNOW) to be raised and the fact is, caregivers in a daycare setting CANNOT "punish" a child. We are not allowed. The ONLY things that can be done are redirection or a time-out equal to their age in minutes. There isn't much else that can be done in that setting. Its even harder on a gradeschool teacher! Bottom line is, I AM raising my child, albeit I'm being PUNISHED by the government for doing it, but I'm doing it, because I am responsible for what my child becomes, whether its a good or bad citizen, I am responsible for it, just like my parents raised me to be an upstanding and honest person, I will always make sure my son sees that in myself and my husband, and by seeing that, will learn to BE that. I'm going to get off my soapbox now...sorry if I kept going and going and going, I just feel REALLY strongly about child-rearing and the whole "one shot to do it right" theory. It is A LOT harder to FIX a broken child than it is to RAISE a good one.
SouthernBelle, GRACE is a VIRTUE

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Mon, 02/05/2007 - 9:14am.

Bravo! We need more parents like you.
Hope things are getting better for you and your family.
God Bless Smiling

Submitted by type e on Sun, 02/04/2007 - 12:17pm.

Agree with you 100%. "Parent" is a tough job, and needs to be taken seriously.

We've reduced our dining out evenings in PTC precisely because so many parents think it is perfectly all right if they subject the rest of the restaurants' patrons to their children's behavior. (And, no, we're not anti-kid. Ours is now in his 20's.)

Clue to the clueless parents: If your child is not capable of waiting for a table, remaining at his/her table, waiting to order, waiting for food and waiting while you chat the evening away with your friends, may I suggest you either go to Chuckie Cheese or McD's - or eat at home.

Clue to restaurant managers: Please approach the parents of out-of-control children with the tactful offer to pack their orders to-go. Your other patrons will thank you.

Submitted by type e on Sat, 02/03/2007 - 9:52pm.

Bravo to AirTran for their handling of the situation. Reminds me of a saying I once heard, "crying babies are like good intentions; both are best carried out immediately".

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Fri, 02/02/2007 - 8:12pm.

Forgive me because I remember once when I acted up as a 5-year old on an Eastern flight from NY. Fortunately my father and mother explained the consequences of my bad behavior and I remained in my seat for the rest of the flight.

Recently I saw a photo of me getting off that flight in my little sport coat and tie with tears in my eyes. It was like yesterday and I know now (and of course then, at the end of the flight) that I was supposed to act properly.

Today the parents who think the school system is responsible for raising their children occasionally go on vacation with their kids and the result is what you see in the story shown above. Disgraceful!

If you have seen Bye Bye Birdie, you may remember a line from one of the songs - "Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way? What's the matter with kids today?"

Well, the answer is we are not raising our kids the way our parents did. Duh!

Got your Sony Playstation yet?


Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Fri, 02/02/2007 - 5:42pm.

I've seen some of everything you have said here over the years. It is no different now than it was 50 years ago except for the airplane part. Not many could fly in those days and restaurants weren't chains with 500 people eating.
I think age has more to do with our attitude about "whooping" our children than anything I can think about. Of course, if raised properly with enough time donated to their training, the problem will occur less seldom.
We can't do without children. We now must fly with them occasionally, also. And, due to most schedules, we will need to eat out some with them.
What I suggest is if you are to old to cut the mustard about raising kids, eat take-out! Even if, and they are, these parents of terrorists are wrong, it is none of your business, only the management's.
Also, so many parents are nuts these days that they have no concept as to how tp "punish" their child without abusing them either mentally or physically.

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