I'm Mad at Mitch Albom

I liked Tuesdays with Morrie as much as the next person, but I can’t abide his essay in the Feb. 13 Parade magazine, “Making the Skies a Bit Friendlier.” He begins by saying as someone who flies a lot, he has a few suggestions: be careful with your carry-ons, watch out for fellow passengers’ kneecaps when reclining your seat, don’t take off your shoes or eat stinky food. OK.

But then he starts complaining about kids: don’t let them kick the seat, don’t let your baby cry. But the part that REALLY pisses me off is this:

Once your kids stop crying, the plane should not hear from them again until they are old enough to be—and actually are—the pilots. I recently had a little boy behind me who all flight long kept singing, at the top of his lungs, “Go-Go-Go…the cat in the hat!” I don’t know this song, or if it even is a song, but I do know his mom did nothing except occasionally whisper, “Jacob, keep it down,” which had the same effect as pressing the Volume-Up button.

I thought Albom had kids, but according to Wikipedia he does not. This explains a lot. Like why he has no grasp of the concept of parental control. I love when people say you shouldn’t “let” kids do this or that. You may be able to stop them from playing with matches, but crying? Short of shoving a breast in their mouth, I don’t know any surefire way to “make” a baby stop crying. Do you, moms? And speaking of breastfeeding, how about attempting to do it discreetly just inches away from your fellow airline passengers? A tiny bit more unsettling than a stranger’s shoeless feet, I dare say.

As for the singing little boy? Come ON. I agree that kids can be annoying -- is that a shocker to anyone who’s ever MET a child? -- but in the grand scheme of things, is a repetitive little ditty about the Cat in the Hat really so odious? And what else was that mom SUPPOSED to do -- smack him? Threaten him? Take away his DVD player? I can assure you if she had, the kid would start wailing. And then he’s gone and annoyed Albom again.

Besides, complaining about kids on airplanes is a cheap joke. It’s like saying, “People who talk loudly on cell phones in public are obnoxious. Who’s with me?” Oh, wait. Albom DOES say that, in the very next paragraph.

I am happy to report that in my fairly extensive experience of flying with my children -- even BY MYSELF, and yes, I would like a medal for that -- I have rarely encountered curmudgeons like Albom. Or at least they have the courtesy to keep it to themselves. I’ve had strangers on planes distract my fussy baby by playing peek-a-boo with him, let my antsy toddler play with their cell phone, and even hold my infant when I got airsick. Now THAT’S making the skies a little friendlier.

(Side note: Miles once shouted, “Look, Mom, BOOTIES!” as we were landing over a marina dotted with boats and buoys. The whole plane cracked up.)

If you really want to complain about air travel, here’s a list for you:

How about the people in the security line who huff impatiently or cut in front of you while you attempt to fold up your stroller, place 3 pairs of shoes on the conveyor belt and keep 2 kids from running off into the crowd while holding your boarding passes in your teeth?

How about the airlines that have done away with pre-boarding for families? It’s in NO ONE’S best interest to make me squeeze past everyone with a ginormous diaper bag and wiggly baby after all the “rewards customers” have already boarded, I can assure you.

How about male passengers who commandeer the armrest and sit with their legs as far apart as possible? We get it, you’re a big manly guy. Now squeeze yourself back into your postage-stamp sized seat like the rest of us. Even those of us with babies on our laps are taking up less space than you.

If I were Albom, I would just sit back, put on my earphones, and enjoy my peanuts. And be grateful for the fact that he doesn’t have to try to change a poopy diaper in an airplane bathroom at 30,000 feet.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: For a much more balanced and helpful POV, read Corinne McDermott’s “5 Things Flying with Kids Has Taught Me.”


Kathleen@so much to say said...

You should submit this in response. :)

Angie Mizzell said...

Oooh, I'm mad at him, too. I love Tuesdays with Morrie. But, really? Boo. Hiss.

You know, Barbara Walters has similar feelings about this. Elizabeth took her to task about it on The View. I have never taken my kids on a plane... because I know it wouldn't turn out well. Blake might do better than Dillon would have, but I'm not taking chances unless I have too. But still... I applaud moms who try.

I love that photo of Miles, standing at attention.

Rivster said...

Hear, hear. In fact, why don't they seat the plane from the rear to the front like they used to do? Makes more sense.

As for annoyances, I'm not so thrilled about the lap dogs that are brought onto flights. My husband has serious allergies and one of my kids is terrified of dogs.

PippaD aka Mummy said...

There are only a few times you can keep children quiet on planes. When they are sick, sleeping of involved in something else. The first time my daughter flew I kept her quiet most of the flight by telling stories to her (it was a short flight!). It was only when we got off the plane that I was told by the people behind that they had also sat quiet the entire flight to listen to my stories!

I shall be mentally thinking Down with Mitch Albom everytime I go in a book store.

improperly forward said...

Why in the world are Mitch and Babs even allowed to complain about this? I'm quite certain neither of them fly coach and I'm pretty sure the magic curtain keeps out most of the "annoyances" of flying with kids.

Mom2Miles said...

LOL, that's a good point, improperly forward!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

You said it, sister!!!

How interesting that a man who has made millions for learning and then writing about wonderful life lessons has such little tolerance! Tsk, tsk, Mitch. Maybe he should ask himself, "What would Morrie do?" I highly doubt he would gripe about singing kids.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Oooh, you tell him!!!

And really, he should remember the rule of not judging anybody unless you've walked a mile in their shoes, shouldn't he?

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