I fly a lot.  We've established that, yes?

Well, on about 40% of my flights, there's at least one Unaccompanied Minor, or what they call in the biz, an UM.

This is a kid who is between the ages of 5-12 who is traveling without an adult.

Now, I understand the temptation of putting your kid on a flight to go see Gammy and Poppy without taking them there yourself.  In theory, I'm on board with that. And in practice, I am LITERALLY ON BOARD with that.

But you need to make sure that before you do that, your kid can handle it.

Enter, Lena.

Yesterday, I flew out of Raleigh.  There were delays.  A storm came through, and we hung out in the airport for about an hour longer than intended.

So, when we finally boarded the plane, I was ready.  Beyond ready.   I boarded 19th, meaning on Southwest, I had my pick of seats.  I chose to get close to the front, on an aisle.  One row ahead of me, at the window was a small, female UM.  I'd clock her at age six.  Blonde, wearing lots of sparkly things, and very "spirited".

A business traveler, a guy my age, ended up in the aisle seat with her, nobody in the middle.  She announced to her seatmate the intention to sleep as soon as they took off and could he wake her when they got to Nashville.  He seemed fine/relieved with this arrangement. He put in earbuds and started to work/relax.

Then, she got chatty.  She told him her name was Lena, for today.  She told him his name was Bob for this flight.  Then as soon as we're pulling out to taxi, she announces she needs to use the bathroom and needs Bob to push the call button.  He explains that nobody is going anywhere for a few minutes, but to shut her up, turns the call light on and off immediately. She explains she's been holding it since North Carolina.  Wait...we're IN North Carolina.

Finally, once we're airborne Lena flags down the female flight attendant named Erin and says she needs to use the bathroom.  Erin takes her up there, and then she bounces back to her seat a few minutes later. She tries to chat with Bob, who reminds her that she had planned to sleep.   That shuts her up for about 30 seconds.

The flight attendant comes by to take drink orders.  Lena first renames Erin and tells her for the remainder of their trip, she will be Lexi.  Then she dithers for a minute on her drink order, but settles on hot chocolate - because that's not a complete pain in the ass for everyone involved.  Of course, it's too hot, and first she wants a straw to drink it with, then she wants an ice cube for it.  Then she wants pretzels, and then she needs to pee again.  And then, she'd like a gingerale.  And then she wants to know why we're taking so long to get there.

By the end of our ONE HOUR FLIGHT, Lena is banging her seatback, and my seatmate who is trying to relax is getting his tray table shoved into him repeatedly by this tiny terror.

We land, and Lena is impatient with how long it's taking the jetbridge to connect with the plane.  Although, this is not her stop.  She's going to Kansas.  As we're getting ready to jump off, she asks Bob to hit her call button to let the flight attendant know she's bored.  And then she fusses at Bob because he has the nerve to have rested a corner of his briefcase on her Unicorn Pillow Pet.

Then she turns around, looks at me and my seatmate and demands to know "Who's back there!?"

Bob says, "I love children, but I can never eat a whole one."  I replied, "Bob needs a drink."

So Mom and Dad - if you're planning on sending your little angel on an incredible journey, please:

- Have them pee before they get on the plane.  Seriously.  Bush league.

- Remind them that the other passengers are not there to entertain them.

- Send plenty of books, or electronic devices or whatever to keep them occupied.

- Explain that flight attendants have several hundred people they're working for, not just your precious angel, and that complicated drink orders are a pain in the ass.

- Give them a free pass to use their call button ONCE, and explain that some people have gone their whole lives without ever using it.

- Make sure they know how to say "please" and "thank you".  Lena never ONCE said either.  Same with "excuse me".

- Set the expectation that while you adore them and think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, they are not the center of everyone's universe.

- Show them how annoying it is if someone behind them is kicking their seat, or someone in front of them keeps banging their seatback.

- Consider UPS and FedEx as alternatives.

Don't you love it when those of us without kids give parenting advice?



Your last tip made me laugh out loud. :) All of your advice was actually really good. I'm trying to remember if I've ever used the call button. I don't think so, but is it wrong that I get a little turned on every time I twist the air blower thingy?