I was shocked when I actually heard the boarding call. Not caring if I was in the section called, I jumped up and threw my ticket and boarding pass at the flight attendant. I took my seat by the window, got my travel pillow out of my carry-on, adjusted it, and prepared to continue my nap. The familiar hum of the plane was comforting. The return of the screaming child was not.
I opened my eyes and there at the front of the cabin was the miniature set of lungs. This was going to be the longest two hours of my life. Lungs and the woman who begat him sat in the bulkhead. The father took a seat a few rows behind me.
The screams subsided a bit, but were supplemented with jumping in the seat, beating out Morse code on the window, and running up and down the aisle. Judging by the furrowed brows of my fellow passengers and the pinched nerves in my neck, we were ready to store this child in an overhead compartment or, better yet, the cargo hold. With his first sprint down the aisle, I secretly willed the passenger next to me to stick her foot out and trip the child.
The pilot called for the attendants to prepare for take-off. The attendant working the front of the plane closed the door, made her pre-flight presentation, and then focused her attention on the bulkhead.
“You are going to have to sit down,” she said to the boy.
The boy squealed and continued to jump in his seat. Oh, this was going to be good, I thought. The immoveable object and the irresistible force, but which was which?
“Ma’am, your son is going to have to sit down and buckle up,” he attendant said to the woman. The woman said nothing. The boy stood in his seat laughing. “Ma’am,” the attendant continued, her voice louder. The muscles in her jaw pulsed. “Tell your son to sit down. We cannot take off until he is in his seat.” The taupe head in the seat moved back and forth. She said something to the attendant and to her spawn. The boy jumped from his seat and started kicking the side of the plane.
I sat in disbelief. Where was the little monster’s father and why was he not helping contain the situation? Who allows his or her child to act in such a way that everyone within earshot wants to push the apple of their eye off a cliff?