Feeling the pain

Clint Edwards and family.

Family travel can be full of wonderful, magical moments that everybody remembers forever. Most of the time, however, as any parent will tell you, the experience verges on shitshow, complete with meltdowns, tantrums, complaining, and whining—from kids and parents alike.

This is precisely why I loved a recent post from Clint Edwards, a fellow father-of-three who blogs about parenthood at No Idea What I’m Doing.

The post in question wrapped up an Edwards family trip to Disneyland, and was titled, “What a trip to Disneyland really looks like.” Edwards set up the piece by explaining that he and his wife spent three days on the ground with three kids under the age of 11. Then he launched into a laundry-list if stuff that went wrong along the way. The bullet points tell frightening tales of everything from the challenges of managing connecting flights with kids to the fact that kids will hang on fences and guard rails no matter where they are.

Sure, the specifics might be different, but we Villanos have had this same experience at Disneyland time and time again. We’ve had the experience at other destinations, too. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that every parent has had it every time he or she has ever taken with kids. It’s part of what makes traveling with kids real. It’s simply part of the deal.

I think Edwards himself says it best at the very end of the post: “Swore up and down that we were Disneyland[ed]-out, but feel confident that this will all happen again and again and again until we are broke or dead.”

Quite honestly I’m not sure I could have said it better myself.

Dumb stuff people say (and write)

I fly solo on business trips, but I am not a pedophile.

I fly solo on business trips, but I am not a pedophile.

Believe it or not, Donald Sterling—the racist owner of the Los Angeles Clippers—wasn’t the only person to say something really dumb in the last week.

Nope, in the world of family travel, Tracey Spicer, a mommy blogger from Australia, scored some serious stupid points, too.

Spicer, who has A RECURRING COLUMN in the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote Sunday about how she doesn’t want her “kids sitting next to a man on a plane.” In a nutshell, her post alleges that men are more likely to commit child sexual abuse on planes.

One of the final lines reads: “Sure, not all men are pedophiles [sic], but offenders are predominantly male.”

(Seriously.)

If this line isn’t offensive enough, the rest of Spicer’s argument certainly does the job. She cites “data” from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that indicates “90 percent of all child sexual abuse is committed by someone in, or known to, the family.” Then she goes on to write: “However, stranger danger is a risk and women are perpetrators in only about 8 percent of the cases.”

Spicer cites other “information” to support her case. One incident—an obvious outlier—was from 2001. Another, from 2012, widely was accepted to be a case of an airline behaving badly. She mentions a third incident, but that one was from 2012, as well. And it also wasn’t cut-and-dried.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the author for trying to raise awareness among parents that you never know who your unaccompanied minor might get as a seat-mate on a long flight.

Still, to do it and besmirch all male travelers in the process—that’s just irresponsible and dumb.

Here’s a novel thought: If you’re a parent and you’re spazzing out about who your child might sit next to when he or she flies solo, how about you just FLY ON THE PLANE WITH YOUR KID?

More important, why do so many people wig out over issues relating to family travel by air? Why do kids on planes prompt people to do and think and say such weird stuff?  What is it about family airplane travel that makes so many sane humans sound nuts? Every time an item like this hits the news, I ask: What could we be doing differently to change the perception of kids on planes?

Let’s hope we find some answers soon.

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