Moral Dilemma

by mssinglemama on February 23, 2009

What happened:

Event 1: Benjamin and I are invited to a baptism. It’s his first time in a church. I’m worried we will spontaneously combust upon entering. Unfortunately, we don’t.

Event 2: Shortly after the baptism begins and at the most inopportune moment, Benjamin runs on a church pew in his new and very loud cowboy boots.

Event 3: Three people sit on that same pew two minutes later. They are small people and also happen to be the parents of the baby being baptised.

Event 4: The pew splits down the middle with a loud – CRACK.

Event 5: As soon as the exit is clear, I drag Benjamin out of there. No more church for us, that’s for sure.

The moral dilemma:

Do I call the church and offer to pay for the church pew?

I feel really, really bad. And yes, I know, my son is hard to control. He’s just as feisty as his mother. Clearly we need to spend more time in quiet places…

Oh, like say, on an AIRPLANE.

For a CROSS COUNTRY FLIGHT to California.

I am petrified. Completely and totally.

Travel tips from seasoned parents would be appreciated.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison February 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

i would make sure he has lots and lots of activities to keep him occupied on the plane- this may include some coloring books, a puzzle, some of his favorite toys, maybe even a portable DVD player so he can watch his favorite movie (bring a few).

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DesperatelySeekingMe February 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Oh my gosh, how crazy!!! What kind of church pew breaks from a little boy's boots though? I don't think you could be held responsible for that…it must have been weak to begin with!!!

The one time I took my toddler on a plane I brought a portable DVD player for her, crayons, and tons of snacks. We were fine until the last 20 minutes when she got tired but wouldn't sleep. Then she started kicking the seat of the person in front of us (who was very sweet, thank goodness)

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thewarriorpoets February 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I'm pretty sure since churches are charged with the task of taking care of single moms, they'd be hard pressed to allow you to pay for a broken pew.

I'd of had him chuck a Thomas the Train at the stained glass on the way out for good measure.

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SingleParentDad February 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I think you do what makes you comfortable, from reading what you say, the church may need some convincing that you need to pay for the pew.

And as for travelling, does Benjamin have his own seat? I took Max's car seat on board with us, so he was more comfortable. But we did travel at nap and sleep time. Portable DVD is good idea, worked for us. Little packs of crayons are good, but usually the airline can provide that. Snacks are good too, I took plenty of packets of raisins as he was into them as a treat at the time. I hope you are also lucky enough to have other children in your row, or very near you. Flight pals can be very helpful and entertaining for a young one. I would tackle the flight in segments, and relate each one to possible entertainment activities. But, you'll probably find impromptu stuff will keep him entertained.

Good luck

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Canadian Bald Guy February 23, 2009 at 11:26 pm

If there was ever a sign that said you probably don't belong in a church, this was probably it (lol).

Hope you have a great time out in California!

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MidwestIrishGuy February 23, 2009 at 11:31 pm

There's no way you should feel like that's either your fault or Benjamin's. If that's all it took then it probably needed to be replaced anyway. Things happen, pews/chairs/etc gotta hold up to kids. :)

Enjoy the trip and get some good R & R. :)

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Kat February 23, 2009 at 11:34 pm

I seriously doubt that the church pew broke because of a little boy running on it in his cowboy boots.
It's a church, the pews are already old, so clearly and obviously not your fault at all, let it slide off your back like water on a duck and forget about it.

As SingleParentDad said, take his car seat, you should do that anyway for the rental car or for whoever picks you up at the airport. Car seats are required for all children in almost every state anyway.

Bring toys he loves to play with, a coloring book and a small pack of crayons, bring a book that you can read to him, one with good and interesting pictures, some of his fave snacks, play games with him like looking out the window, little kids love to look out the window, and ask him to see if he can see any birds, trees, buildings, lakes, spot clouds etc.

You can also ask your pediatrician for anything that may keep him calm on the flight seeing as it's his first time. My sister's pediatrician told her to give each of her 2 daughters a single dose of Benadryl before the flight so they would remain calm and also they would fall asleep easier.
I'm not saying that I condone drugging our children, but if you know that your child is hyperactive or rambunctious and may cause problems, definitely speak to your pediatrician.

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mssinglemama February 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Hmmm… I've thought about Motrin, just in case. But I think your car seat idea is right on. I have a light one… so I'll bring that and then at least he'll be contained.

Thanks for this comment. You are awesome Kat! SO helpful.

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Nicole February 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Are you sure HE broke it?
It could just be coincidence…
I honestly don't think that's something he could have done all on his own! :)
But I definitely agree with MidwestIrishGuy, if it can't withstand a 2 year old taking a quick trip across it, it probably needed to be replaced in the first place…

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mssinglemama February 23, 2009 at 11:43 pm

His cowboy boots have heels and he wasn't just running – he was running and jumping/stomping on the pew. I definitely think he nailed it in a delicate spot. Either that or Benjamin and I are damned or something.

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Nicole February 24, 2009 at 1:12 am

:S
Toddlers are so much fun! lol
If it helps you to feel better, James totally ruined my best friend's sister's wedding the second time I ever took him to a church… I won't go into details.. but I definitely haven't been back since!

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Tricia February 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I'm totally cracking up right now….is a pew breaking the new bursting into flames upon entrance? That's why I haven't gone in a few years heehee I'm not sure if you should pay…it sounds like that pew may already been on it's last legs (so to speak) if it couldn't take a toddler standing on it.
I haven't ever traveled with a toddler but know some peeps who have so here's what I've heard: lots of entertainment ex. dvd's, maybe a new toy or two, snacks and the like. I also heard kids ears can be sensitive so maybe something to suck on so his ears don't clog up during take off and landing?
Hope you guys have a great time and we'll be seeing you (and many others) on Sunday!

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mssinglemama February 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Churches are supposed to take care of us? Weird. Are they also supposed to take care of deadbeat dads? Maybe take them out for a swim with the fishes?

: ) Thanks for the comment.

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thewarriorpoets February 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Here's my only travel advice. If it starts to not go so well somewhere over Nebraska, don't give a rat's ass if Ben is upsetting your fellow travellers. Kids will be kids and if someone doesn't get that, they should pay the extra $1600 for first class or take the Leer.

Besides, little one's stress tends to be directly proportional to momma's stress level.

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Jennifer February 24, 2009 at 12:08 am

I'm sorry but that was funny, and I doubt they'd even let you pay for it anyway. This is totally something Noah would do and I'd be mortified.

Travel – I just did this recently with a very active child. I tried bringing the car seat on the plane and almost had a breakdown getting it through security and into the seat of the plane! They don't fit in the aisles of a plane and children tend to run ahead when you're stuck! Getting the seat, the carry on, and a child off the plane is ridiculous. It was easier and faster to get through security and on/off the plane when I checked the seat & luggage at the curb. If you have a laptop (obviously), a portable dvd player (use the laptop instead), carry on bags, AND a car seat, it all goes through security in separate containers. That's more containers than there are people! Then add taking off shoes on top of that = nightmare! Family lanes don't help. I got a $20 rolling cart thing (or short bungies for your rolling carry on) and you can let Benjamin run around and wear him out before the plane ride. Also, having a free hand to catch him and one rolling item is awesome. He'll be more likely to fall asleep on the plane right away if you wear him out. I just felt that not having the car seat made it easier to wrangle a child and our stuff through security and on the plane by myself. Plus, Noah couldn't reach to kick the seat in front of him!

Good luck, it'll be a great adventure to read about!

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newsinglemama February 24, 2009 at 12:12 am

haha! don't worry too much about the pew, maybe it needed repairs and ben just finished it off, lol

about the travelling, don't sweat it and try to enjoy it. i just took my 11 month old on a plane for the first time and she was fine, in fact she loved it! i agree with what everyone else said, entertainment is the best prevention…

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won February 24, 2009 at 12:17 am

Benadryl. Definitely benadryl.

Then fight over who gets it…you or him.

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 12:36 am

Really? I've never given him Benadryl before… what will it do?

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won February 24, 2009 at 12:44 am

It will make him mellow…betcha a nickle it will make him actually fall asleep. Seriously, make sure you have it in your carry on and if it's liquid, make sure its the right amount to carry on with the travel restrictions on liquids.

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Wondermom February 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Actually, watch out with the Benedryl. It makes most kids sleepy but it does make some hyper (my Pork Chop is one of them!) Also, if he doesn't actually fall asleep, then he'll be super tired and cranky. That's the problem I have with Squirt. Most of the time Benedryl knocks him out cold but if he does manage to stay awake or if he gets awakened before he's ready, it gets ugly.

If you're into herbal remedies, there are many that I've heard recommended. Hypercalm is one and Rescue Remedy is another. Ask at the herb store and they can point you in the right direction.

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Speedgirl February 24, 2009 at 1:17 am

First, I agree that you should not feel obligated to pay for the pew. If it wasn't Benjamin running over it, it would have broken when a larger church-goer sat down. You can always make a donation to the church to help with the cost, if you still feel guilty. Just give what you can, and they will appreciate the gift, I'm sure.

Second, try the Benadryl. Don't think of it as "unnecessary drugging", you are merely trying to ensure that you, Benjamin, and the other passengers have a good flight. But try a dose of the stuff at home first to gauge how he reacts to it. It always makes my kids sleepy (I've used it for allergies for both of them) but makes my friend's son hyper – not what you want to find out in mid-air :)

Lastly, you will want to have a few well-loved little toys or animals for the flight, but also pick up a few new little things, just for the trip. Dollar store stuff – new coloring books, or a small etch-a-sketch, or a new MatchBox car to play with it on the tray. He can keep his things in a backpack and carry that on – just be sure it isn't too heavy or you will end up lugging it around along with your stuff! Also, maybe you can stash away $20 and let him pick out something at the airport ($10 limit each way…)

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April February 24, 2009 at 1:25 am

Definitely bring a bag of goodies just for him and stuff he hasn't seen before so it will be new and exciting. I'd stay clear of the candy – I tried that once and we were both bouncing around dying to get off the plane!! Don't worry about the pew it would of happened to anyone, just so happened to be you!!

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Gosia February 24, 2009 at 1:41 am

This reminds me of a wedding my best friend and I attended… We both brought the kids with us (her son C. was just under two and my girl N. a month younger…) As the bride was going down the isle C. started pooping… loudly… it was a leaky kind of a pooping episode, too… My daughter started making faces and saying "eeeuuu stinky'… Well, the bride wasn't too happy… My friend and I grabbed the kids and spent the rest of the ceremony outside. hmm… We didn't go to the reception neither… Churches are not our thing…
As for traveling: 1. Is Ben potty trained? If so – bring a few pull ups with you – just in case. 2. Gold fish, raisins, m&ms, fruit (if he likes it – N. loves oranges – so I bring a couple of them on the plane and use them to bribe her into behaving well). 3. Depending on what time your flight is – make sure Benjamin gets a lot of exercise – I usually try to get to the airport early enough for N. to have some time to run around in front of the gate. She may not fall asleep on the plane – but at least is too tired to want to get out of the seat and bug people. 4. Benadryl is a good idea – if Benjamin's ears hurt from the changing pressure – I wouldn't recommend using it as a "sleep medicine". 5. Check if there are any spots on the plane with the seat in front of you guys empty… I don't know how long your flight is, but there really is no way of stopping the kids from kicking the seat in front of them. 6. Coloring book, stickers, play dough, toys, etc are good – but in my case they don't keep N. occupied for more than 5 minutes. 7. DVD players worked well – until N. broke hers half way through a Dora movie… then she raised hell about it…
I tend to go into a panic mode before flying with my 3 year old. I prepare for the worst – but it tends to be much better then I expect. Not counting the last flight – when I threatened to pinch N. if she didn't stop misbehaving – and N. told the flight attendant that I was hurting her… SO the flight attendant brought N. cookies… COOKIES!?! SUGAR for an already hyperactive kid… grrr…

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 2:19 am

Gosia – you just officially made me laugh harder than I've laughed in days… thank you.

And #5 is awesome advice… and I can NOT believe they gave her a cookie. Damn.

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Janet February 24, 2009 at 2:08 am

This is kind of a funny post. Maybe you don't think so now, but in years to come…. :)

My thought is, do what you feel is right and what will make you feel good. I seriously doubt that Benjamin broke the church pew (doesn't really seem possible for such a little guy) but it may ease your guilt to call the church and apologize. I don't think at all that they would hold you responsible.

Good luck with the plane trip! I have no advice on that one…we have taken some car trips but my bravery does not extend past that at this point. :)

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kristen February 24, 2009 at 2:20 am

if you haven't used benadryl before, don't use it for the first time on the plane. it makes some kids hyper. take some gum for the take off and landing. it helps with the ears. i pack a magic bag of new small toys and books, markers, colouring books etc. i take the train to my parents' place with my 3-year old – a 7 hour trip. dvd player is great. music or ibooks on the ipod can get you a few minutes of peace. but be prepared to entertain constantly.

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MommaMac February 24, 2009 at 2:21 am

Right on with the Benedryl. I had to use it with my oldest as she used to scream like crazy on trips. Calmed her down and she fell asleep. Only side effect was that she snored, it was like sawing logs. Oh, my!

Otherwise, a portable DVD player is the best thing ever. EVER. I also bring color books, paper, crayons, colored pencils. And a couple of other small toys, like small cars or something. I also take along raisons and craisons a few snacks.

I have to be honest, my biggest fear is airline security. Some airports make kids take their shoes off (I've had it both ways and honestly think it depends on the mood of the security person). People are going to give you dirty looks while you're in line. Just smile, they treat us all the same!

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MissNotesy February 24, 2009 at 2:50 am

The pew could've broken if a bunch of people sat in it. Your kid didn't break it. Funny story though.

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lul February 24, 2009 at 2:58 am

I am laughing my butt off right now. I attend church on a regular basis, and I have yet to see a pew split. I seriously doubt he was responsible for this. It should not have broken that easily. Did anyone get hurt? I hope there were not any injuries. Did people realize that Ben was jumping on it right before it split? I really don't see how he could be responsible, if that's the case, they pews are not made out of good wood. You know, there are a lot of obese people walking around these days, will they bust one of those pews down the road? The chuch may need to get extra heavy-duty pews. Still cracking-up with this one.

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erin February 24, 2009 at 3:36 am

my best airline tip (i have three and have traveled solo with all of them numerous times) is temporary tattoos! they go on with a wet napkin or even a baby wipe. yes, your son might look like a freak show after, but a happy freak show :)

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Amber February 24, 2009 at 3:47 am

The pew splitting was total fluke. A funny fluke, but a fluke none the less! Who can say that there child broke a pew? Regardless, thats funny sh*t, hehe. And for the plane ride….
1.) SNACKS~ things he would not normally have. Fruit roll ups, fruit snacks, rice crispy treats (they make organic ones!), goldfish, etc
2.) SIPPY CUPS~ 3 to be exact. 1 for milk, 1 for juice, 1 for water.
3.) TOYS~Dollar tree is great for this. Also go to Target they have these neat little pens that u fill with water and then color in a coloring book that is attached and it changes colors with no mess. Dare i say play do?, Troll dolls, the list goes on…but dont give him them till the flight takes off. And wrap them like presents, tell him if hes a good (quiet boy) he can have a present. Aqua doodles, etch a sketch, portable DVD player, IPOD (my 2 year old loved this).

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amber February 24, 2009 at 3:48 am

4.) And if all else fails…BENADRYL….it knocks them out cold for hours! My pediatrician said to give my 2 year old 1 teaspoon. So check on amounts (online has a guide, the bottle says only use for 6 yrs and above, bunch of bologna. I know bc my kid is allergic to peanuts and for mild reactions they said to give her this), im sure its probably the same. But i would do a trial run this week before you go bc with a small majority of kids it makes them wired.
But remember even if Benjamin is a little crazy on the flight, its not the end of the world. Its 5 (10) hours out of your life and youll never see those people again. Good Luck, Im rooting for ya!!

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April February 24, 2009 at 4:57 am

Just don't be like the lady that got thrown off the plane with her autistic kid last year. OMG, do you remember that? Her kid was carrying on uncontrollably and the passengers threw a shit fit and before take off they made her and her child get off the plane. Sorry, don't mean to put awful thoughts in your head, but that would be my luck. I once traveled with three kids under the age of 5, all by myself, so it can be done. Don't forget the chewing gum or a sucker something that will help with his ears, I know he isn't a baby, but I have troubles with my ears popping. I would talk to your pediatrician about the benadryl , my sister gives it to her dogs during storms to calm them down (funny) and she takes it to help her sleep better. The DVD is an excellent idea, also try some books about planes, and whatever his favorite toy might be. You might want to take a zanex or something :) He may very well surprise you, it may be the greatest adventure you both have been on. Have fun, remember it is an adventure and if you make it fun,he will feel your excitement. Maybe even try to buy or make a blank book, so he can draw about his big adventure. It will be a keepsake and it will keep him busy, and when you get home glue some photo's inside from your trip, let him be involved in taking pictures, maybe even inside the plane :)

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lovelife February 24, 2009 at 5:07 am

NO!!!!! I can't even imagine the complete and utter embarassment! I would have crawled under a pew (not the broken one) and hid. I am so sorry this happened to you. Were people pissed? Did Benjamin realize what had happened? Poor boy, I hope that he doesn't feel badly for what happened. I agree, there are many people well overweight, that's dangerous to think that someone could bring down a pew like that. When it cracked, did it make a big sound? Just tell us that no one was hurt in this. I still can't believe a pew cracked, that's the first in history that I have heard of.

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Apples February 24, 2009 at 7:38 am

Okay, umm I don't know about the pew. I am sure they will say its fine, (they are a church for goodness sake!) But I don't know…

As for the plane. My daughter and I have been flying solo since she was a month old. Shes racked up more miles then most grown adults (average at the very least a round trip every 3 months) The worst stage was when she was 2ish. Sitting HA she didn't even sit still in her sleep let alone pumped up during a flight.

What saved us was…

Snacks Snacks and more snacks. Playdoo, colors, new games, all of which I wrapped up individual lunch bags with a nice bow that I would pull out every 15 min or so and she got to unwrap and play with things. (this was an amazing time killer!) I on average had 6 or 7 bags. She didn't see them or know what was in them till I pulled them out. That way it was a shock factor and she loved it plus when she would say I want more I'd tell her thats all then later go OH LOOK I FOUND ONE MORE! So that she didn't just go That's nice NEXT. Stickers are great… She spent an entire flight one time just pealing stickers out of one of those cheap 2000 sticker books for like 3 bucks and sticking them all over me. Yes I got looks as I was getting off the plane and hadn't pulled them all off yet. I just said HEY she was QUIET RIGHT! When they gave me the looks getting off the plane and they laughed and agreed. I think I loss half an eye brow that trip though.. Make sure they are sucking/chewing on something for take off AND landing! Also if you can bring a portable DVD player (I just saw one for 65 at walmart) They are great for plane rides (charge them during the layover if you can) and long car rides they can be life savors too especially if its dark and they are not tired. Let them run around during the layovers if you can. Yes people are buttheads about it, I got around this by picking a corner where no one was and let her run from the wall to me. That way it was somewhat controled so I wasnt chasing her all over the airport.

Now why I am online at almost 12am when I myself have to be on a flight at 6am I will never know…

Night!

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Apples February 24, 2009 at 7:46 am

I would say do NOT give benadryl! Firstly, yes I am one of those people who am against meds unless totally needed but putting that part aside this can actually do the totally opposite of what you want it to and keep a kid wired or just plain irritated. And if you are still thinking of it you for sure need to talk to your own kids doc before doing it……

http://pediatrics.about.com/od/weeklyquestion/a/0

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Irishmom February 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Alaina, I'm sorry but I am laughing out loud totally at the church story. Little boys! I too had a feisty two and a half year old once who is now a very calm six year old… This too shall pass. My parents live in South Africa and I had to wait until he was four before I'd even contemplate that flight – 21 hours in total. In the end, he did the best out of all of us – my then seven year old daughter was more trouble than him. I just brought a little bag of goodies (small cheap toys and crayons and books) for both of them that distracted them. I also brought lollipops to suck when going up and down because they both get sore ears. Do you have one of those small portable DVD players?

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Irishmom February 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm

That has been a lifesaver on many a trip and was fairly inexpensive. Just bring along a couple of movies. Although, that said, at that age my son didn't have all that much interest in movies. But you'll be fine. I have, over the years of traveling back and forth between Ireland, England, South Africa and other places learnt to ignore the stares and grumblings of people who just don't understand or remember what it's like to have a child who is just that, a child. And maybe you'll get lucky and be next to someone like me who has her own little ones that can entertain yours. Hang in there – it will be fine! :)

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Irishmom February 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

PS : The Benedryl has never worked for me – it made my daughter hyper. At the very least, try it a couple of days before you leave … :)

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Stephanie T February 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

That is the church's responsibility. Shame on them for having such a dangerous pew in there. No dilemma at all!

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jenn February 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Hi ms single mama, it's jenn from athens….I travel (drive) to tennessee quite often with my little abbigail, she's four now, it's getting easier, however there were times when I had to pull over just to keep from wrecking because I was crying so hard. My advice is to bring as many small items that will keep his attention as possible. i.e. handheld games the both of you can play, crayons and books, maybe a ipod so he can listen to some music. a portable dvd player was my savior. As for the benadryl, I have tried that once, and it really didn't have that big of an effect on her, if you can schedule your traveling for late in the evening, he will sleep the whole trip. good luck and I hope things are going well for you! You and benjamin have a safe trip

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

LOVE the wrapped baggie idea. You're brilliant!!! And I think I'll pass on the Benadryl after hearing the hyper stories…

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jenn February 24, 2009 at 2:58 pm

oh and btw, im sure the church has more money than you do and if the weight of a 3 year old was all that it took to break the pew, the church should be thankful that it wasnt an elderly persons weight that broke the pew and either fell or pinched themselves and then in turn sued the church. So in my opinion, benjamin did them a favor!

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LucasGo February 24, 2009 at 2:59 pm

You might be surprised that he is completely well behaved. I'd give him a chance myself before giving him anything to chill him out. Definitely take stuff to keep him occupied though. Portable DVD player is a good idea if there isn't kids inflight entertainment.

My kids surprised me though, I was expecting the worst! They're totally cool on flights.

Although the first time I flew with them, my son was still a baby and sat on my lap the entire way with my daughter next to me. I had to change a nappy or two on the plane, that was a little tricky for me ;)

Anyway he was still very much into kicking his legs everywhere randomly and the entire flight he kept kicking the poor guy's chair in front of me! I had to apologize and thankfully he wasn't too worried by the little kicks! It was a bit of a struggle to try keep him from non-stop kicking though!

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Lesli February 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I would be wary of dosing a child with Benadryl….I was given this advice by several parent friends the first time I took Henry on a cross-country flight. When i asked our pediatrician about it, he staunchly said "No Way!"–only b/c you never know how their body is going to react to Benadryl and also, the air pressure might equally affect it. I've taken my two boys on several flights cross-country and never used medication…

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Kat February 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm

As I said, ask your pediatrician for anything to help. Not all pediatricians will recommend the same thing, my sister's pediatrician DID recommend it for her daughters.
Your pediatrician knows your child, knows their medical history, knows their allergies etc etc, they will know what is best for YOUR child.

I never told her to just go ahead and give Benadryl to Benjamin, I told her to talk to her pediatrician.
I'll quote myself so there's no further misunderstandings on what I said to do;
"I'm not saying that I condone drugging our children, but if you know that your child is
hyperactive or rambunctious and may cause problems, definitely speak to your
pediatrician."

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

It's okay everyone…

I hear you all. I think it depends on the child. Because Benjamin has never had Benadryl before I'm not going to try it on the plane. And no time to check with his doctor first.

I really appreciate everyone's advice… truly. And for some kids, like Kat said, I can see why it may be good to calm them down with medication. But, being wary of most medication anyway, I'm wondering if there are any calming homeopathic herbs or anything.

I LOVE some of the stuff I've found at Whole Foods to prevent his colds and such. Anyone know of calming natural remedies? Maybe some Sleepy Time in his sippy cup? : )

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Lesli February 24, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I have to say that I am SHOCKED by the number of parents on here saying to dose B with Benadryl! Drugging your toddler for the sake of other passengers or your own sanity just isn't right or necessary.

As I said way up above, I've taken my two boys (at various ages) on cross-country trips both on a plane and on a train and with some creativity and planning (like much of the good advice you've gotten above), they were completely fine and manageable.

I know every child is different and I've been on a plane when there were crazy children–but I just smile at that parent and give them a wink….b/c I understand. You will find that most people are understanding because they are parents themselves. However, you will get some dirty looks but just keeing doing your mom thing and ignore it. Just take some of the good advice above–sans Benadryl–and you will be fine.

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Lesli February 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm

BTW, I doubt very seriously that Benjamin broke that pew….I agree with some others that it must have been in bad repair anyway and he just 'helped" it along. It would have broken eventually. However, if you feel guilty, just call the church and ask if you could make a donation.

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Karyn February 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

When my son was 3 we went on his first airplane ride. I had snacks (when they used to let you take snacks), colors, cd player with kid songs, and I took a little bottle of vinegar. Someone told me that if he acted up and would not mind me to stick my finger in vinegar and put it in his mouth if he was bad….I think I only used it once. It wasnt that bad. I sat him next to the window and we watched the shapes and colors the landscape makes.

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 4:45 pm

You are absolutely right. I need to be relaxed… I'm not sure why I'm so unnerved by this flight. I think it's a combination of me quitting smoking, the doomed church pew and that awful salon lady (yes, still thinking about that) – she popped my mom cherry.

But I will do everything in my power to chill the F out on that plane and just have fun.

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cilantroh February 24, 2009 at 5:49 pm

As a single mom who's son is now 27, I cannot tell you how much I enjoy this blog, and 'remembering when.' I so appreciate that he and I survived it all – quite nicely actually! Even though it was often messy, I SO very much miss those days! You will survive, and thrive!

The first flight Spud, then age 6, & I ever took was from Cols. to NYC; he had the window, I was in the middle and a 60-ish, grumpy Suit-type, showed up for the aisle seat. He stood in the aisle, took one look at Spud, called the flight attendant over, and loudly announce he was NOT sitting with a child! She told him it was the only seat available, and that he was welcome to disembark if he liked! (Yeah for the flight attendant!)

By the end of the flight Spud had totally charmed the Suit and they were looking out the window together with Suit pointing out landmarks to Spud as we were landing. The best part though, besides Spud charming Suit's socks off, was when Suit apologized to me for being rude and making assumptions! Now, that said, I have also been the victim of relentless seat kicking, which resulted in a painful cervical dislocation that required 3 chiropractic adjustments! So, I've been on both sides of the 'seat!'

Stickers are an awesome idea, ditto snacks, surprises, etc. And the Rescue Remedy is a calming homeopathic for the nervous system – for you and the kid! If you're relaxed, it'll help him relax, too. Also, do the early boarding option for families. It's easiest when everyone else isn't on board yet. Maybe while waiting, you can befriend a fellow passenger to assist.

Don't forget your sunblock, and have a marvelous trip!

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mssinglemama February 24, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I am so glad you wrote and “introduced” yourself… Spud is now about my age. So cool. I am fascinated by those of us who have made it to the other side. I hope you keep chiming in with more stories.

And as for that homeopathic remedy? What is it? Going to Whole Foods after work to hunt me down some natural calming remedies.

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cilantroh February 25, 2009 at 11:52 pm

here's a link to the Rescue Remedy home – it's a mixture of flower essences (distilled from the plant) that calms the nervous system. They also have a whole section for kids.
http://www.bachflower.com/Rescue_Remedy.htm

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mssinglemama February 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

Wow. Thank you so much.

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PT-LawMom February 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Pumpkinead started flying at 3 months and we've done it a lot, usually alone, both nationally and internationally.

1) Benadryl makes Pumpkinhead SUPER-hyper! Beware.
2) Walk to the back of the plane and sit in the very last row of seats. This way you can let him get up and walk and he won't be in the way of other passengers, plus it is right by the bathroom and the flight attendants for water, juice, etc.
3) Get a mini etch-a-sketch
4) Video iPod or travel DVD player with his favorite movie

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PT-LawMom February 24, 2009 at 9:57 pm

5) Buy some books or small toys and wrap them. Pull out the "gift" whenever he gets cranky. Just the wrapping paper alone will keep him occupied.
6) Use a stroller. I never used a car seat because I never could afford to buy a seat for my son when he was under two. Roll him all the way to the gate in it (also great for holding your bags) and then check it at the plane door.
7) Use other passengers. When my son was 3 months old, we flew from DC to Boston. I desperately had to pee but couldn't easily take him with me. Fortunately there were some sweet grandmother types who were thrilled to get their hands on my little angel. Not like they could run away with him… ;)

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Abigail Carter February 24, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Haha. You have similar experiences in churches that I do. A five year could not possibly break a pew. It was ready to go. You have no obligation whatsoever to call and offer to pay. Perhaps God should pay…

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mssinglemama February 25, 2009 at 12:52 am

Oh snap!

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April February 25, 2009 at 12:31 am

I hate to be one to disagree, but I do indeed disagree with Lesli's statement that most people understand – there are just a few people that would fall into that category. I have made several business trips with unruly children onboard and the consensus for most passengers are: Be a parent, step up and calm your child. Because people do NOT want to hear screaming and carrying on for several hours. A lot of people are quite stressed to be flying anyway, let alone add a screaming child to the mix. It is about being respectful to ALL people on the flight. If the kid isn't happy, ain't no one going to be happy. I have always tried to be considerate with controlling my kids behavior, and I expect other people to step up as well and take control of the situation – it is the parents responsibility, not other peoples. However, on a plane you can't just leave and take them home. Remember it is not Disneyland, where a kid can be a kid!
This is a call out to the parents that think people understand – not everyone does! In a matter of fact – most don't! People should not be placed in a position to listen or deal with a kids bad behavior ANYWHERE and parents need to teach their kids appropriate behavior. It really ruins everyone's time, not just the parents.Please be considerate of other people.
Alaina – I commend you for thinking ahead and nipping a possibly bad situation in the bud and being proactive to entertain B. Everyone on the plane will be very thankful you did!

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Squiggly February 25, 2009 at 1:18 am

A clean change of clothes For your son is a must in the event of an accident. Wet wipes, Kleenex. Put movies in a single zippered case. Carry as much as possible in a backback and give him a backpack of his own. Have him wear slip on shoes or sandals and socks for easy security and getting up and around. Flash cars with pictures, letter and numbers are a good interactive activity.

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Lauren February 25, 2009 at 1:22 am

I thought church pews were supposed to be thick and sturdy?

As for the plane, I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet (since I didn't make it through all the comments) but maybe bring carrots as one of his snacks to help his ears pop on the take-off/landing. (If they even do pop… I can't even remember what it's like to be on a plane even though I just flew last month). My sister and I always had carrots for long car rides through West Virginia when we were little :)

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movin down the road February 25, 2009 at 2:46 am

oh gosh, the pew didn't split because he ran on it. it split after years of people sitting on it. and probably other kids running on it. I'd leave it. Seriously. On the flight thing, if you have an ipod, put his music on it and let him listen to it when you are desperate. Pack bag with small playdough containers. Coloring. Things that are new that he has never seen before. This includes snacks. Pack lots of snacks that he doesnt usually get. And seriously. Don't show him everything at once. ONE THING AT A TIME. Will get you through. The key is to space it out. Do one thing at a time. And the time will fly by. I took both my girls to Los Angeles from Boston last year, they were 5 and 7. I was alone with them. It was easy. Except the little one just sat and talked my ear off.

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thewarriorpoets February 25, 2009 at 3:50 am

There's a big difference between "bad behavior" and a child being stressed due to unusual circumstances, or even in some cases of flying, pain or discomfort. We're not talking about a 7 year old here who can be somewhat rationalized with or who can understand the threat of great bodily harm.

And while a kid acting out in the grocery store because mom won't cave for the M&M request can just be yanked by the arm out to the Volkswagen in only the way an angry and embarrased mother can do, it's kind of hard to do that at 27,000 feet. Sometimes the appropriate remedy for a parent is ignoring the behavior, and that takes patience on everyone's part. There's times the more you react, the more Uncooperative Toddler reacts, as if they understand proportional ratios.

Bad parenting is bad parenting. But if people can't appreciate that children, especially very young children, react unpredictably in situations that are stressful even for supposedly grown adults, well, then shame on them.

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mssinglemama February 25, 2009 at 5:04 am

Do you have a single brother?

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Nina February 24, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I agree. to suggest a screaming child is always because of bad parenting is thoughtless. my son at 7 mos was stellar on a flight, imho, where even adults were screaming due to turbulence. he did scream though, he got tired and everytime he was almost asleep the “friendly” people next to us would smile and laugh and try to amuse him…its hard to say to people who are trying to be helpful PLEASE STOP!

do try the benadryl pre-flight (it wires me) and ask your ped as most cold meds are banned for kids under 5 now.

swedish fish is my chewy item of choice. loads of snacks – he ate so much flying…much more than typical. we have a 5 hr xcntry flight in july. I did get him his own seat but may check his car seat cause I’ve seen some flight attendents force you to keep them buckled in the whole time. also ask when you get to the airport if the bulkhead is open. they usually won’t pre-book these as they are supposed to keep them open for handicapped and kids. sucks for putting stuff away but no one to kick and more room. dress him in layers cause its usually too hot or too cold flying. bring cash so you can buy yourself a drink to help relax. and get the CDs ‘love and logic for preschool to 6 yr olds’ from your local library NOW- active does not equal uncontrollable but he could not possibly have split a pew without it having some flaw. think how relieved all the fat people in the world are it would be humiliating to break a pew from sitting…you could get them to contribute to replacing it since your son did them a favor! :) lol

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Shiona February 25, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I would call to offer a donation. Church pews are generally pretty sturdy. Even the feistiest kid shouldn't be able to break it after such a short time.

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Carissa February 26, 2009 at 3:36 am

I did a cross country flight by myself with two little girls: ages 1.5 & 4. You'll be fine: Strollers are lifesavers. We are doing it again this May and they are now 3 & 5.5… I am replacing the stroller with my mother ;)
But seriously, they loved it and still talk about it to this day. They love to travel and I am so glad I instilled that in them.

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Miss Notesy February 26, 2009 at 5:22 am

Color Wonder items are all amazing if you haven't already discovered them. Also, both of my kids love their leapsters (youngest was 2) and the games are educational.

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Miss Notesy February 26, 2009 at 5:29 am

Oh, and before you go, you might want to sit him down in a chair at home and tell him that he's going to have to sit very still for a long time. Tell him exactly how you want him to behave and what is not acceptable. For some reason, this sounds so stupid, even to me as I type it, but it has always worked like a charm with my kids and I have a VERY active barely-three year old.

Even today we went to a park with some friends and I told 3yo, "Mama doesn't want you jumping in puddles okay? Are you going to jump in puddles?" He said, "No." Then I asked, "What if your friends are allowed to jump in puddles?" He still said no. I went on to say, "If I tell you something one time, does that mean that you disobey me or do you obey me right away?" He said, "Right away." and he was actually really good!

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Chelsea March 29, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Some of my most humiliating moments have been in churches! Like the time my son kept jumping over a pew in a very large and well-known church we were visiting, and when I told him that if he wouldn't stop then we had to leave…he started screaming "NOOOOOOOO" and flailing all over as I attempted to carry him kicking and screaming from one end of the auditorium to the other, where several thousand people were trying to listen to the sermon. He dropped to the floor and kicked at me, and my skirt flew up practically over my head as I bent down to try and regain my hold on him. His screaming ensured that every pair of eyes was on us. I then dragged him all the way out of view, down the stairs and into the street where pedestrians could only look and wonder if they were witnessing a child abduction. At the time, you are hoping and wishing for the ground to swallow you whole, but later it makes some great memories to look back on! ;)
And no way should you worry about paying for the pew…any church worth it's weight would simply be happy to have you grace it's doorways and not worry about the cost incurred. ;)

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