There is a “Hey! This is going to be really controversial!” piece on the Daily Fail this morning where a mother defends her decision to give her screaming children Phenergan Elixir, a sort of over-the-counter antihistamine, on airplane trips. And car trips. And trips to the corner market. And pediatrician. And zoo. OK, I’m lying about those last three but she may as well be saying that because this lady is very defensive about her decision to drug her kids so they don’t “bother” other people in public.
You can question my mothering skills if you want. You can call me selfish, irresponsible and foolhardy. But plenty of research has shown that what fellow travellers really despise more than crying children on planes are parents who do nothing about it. A poll by TripAdvisor found over a third of Britons would pay extra to travel in adults-only planes.
But why should they? We all know nothing raises the collective blood pressure among hundreds of strangers more than being stuck in a cramped space with a bawling baby or badly behaved toddler.
And while diversions and undivided parental attention can work up to a point, what is so wrong with a dose of something to make the whole process more bearable for everyone?
Should we wait to be reunited as a family until the children are old enough to sit still, without noise or fidgeting, for hour after tortuous hour?
This is where Phenergan Elixir comes in. Even the name holds the promise of something mystical happening.
For me, that’s having all my children conked out, so I can enjoy an in-flight movie and a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
And even worse, the mom then goes on to describe how after drugging her children, ages
eight, six, and four, how one of them just couldn’t wake up after the plane had landed. After she put cold water on him, stood him on his feet, and blew in his face. Which sounds to me like she may have given him a bit much of this “magic elixir.” Plus, at this age, I find it even more disturbing that her kid was so badly behaved on an airplane she felt the need to give him the happy juice so they would stop “kicking the seat in front of him and flicking peanuts across the aisle.”
We all know it’s not fun traveling with an unhappy child on a plane, especially an infant. I think the majority of parents feel for the person trying to calm the baby and wish that there was something we could do to help. Most people realize it’s cabin pressure that causes babies to have issues, and any adult who has ever flown on a plane with allergies or a cold can sympathize how painful that can be. I really believe that most people feel sympathy for a crying child, and don’t feel a huge amount of anger towards them.
I hate the idea of drugging kids to knock them out so they don’t bother other people. And before anyone accuses me of being too judgy I have travelled with all of my kids on long-haul flights (many 8-hour-trips across the pond) and even though my own kids never had flat out tantrums or huge crying jags on planes, I have been on flights where other children have. It just happens. Babies cry. Kids get bored. Most parents prepare for this by bringing along a beloved toy or something new to distract their kids with or by using a pacifier for younger kids. Or, sometimes they do what these great parents did almost a year ago that was posted on Reddit.
Do you know why they serve booze on planes? Because flying sucks, especially these days with overcrowded planes and uncomfortable seats and having to pay extra for meals and snacks, and because on occasion you will be on a flight with an unhappy child. I suggest people just drug themselves with vodka and parents don’t drug their kids in order to make everyone else more comfortable. I see nothing wrong with parents using an over-the-counter antihistamine that has been suggested by their pediatrician on occasion, as a last resort, but I think the problem is with other people, not the kids, and that people just need to chill out and realize that no baby has ever cried forever.
If you are close to a parent with an unhappy baby or child offer to help.Give them a sympathetic look. Flag down a stewardess and buy yourself a vodka tonic. Buy one for the frazzled parent too. Put on your earphones or read a magazine and remember that you were a baby once too. Parents pay good money for plane tickets for their kids, and I would rather be on a flight with a crying child than some creepy person who wants to talk to me during the trip.