Love Letter to a Champion of Family Travelers
I’ve never met Susan Reimer, but if and when I do, I’m buying her a beer (or non-alcoholic beverage of her choice).
Earlier this week, she published a piece in The Baltimore Sun imploring airplane passengers to be nicer to solo moms traveling with kids. The story, titled, “Babies on a Plane,” chronicled Reimer’s observations while flying across the country for the Easter/Passover holiday. And those observations weren’t pretty. The two biggies:
- Solo moms, laden with strollers and other gear, managing unhappy babies and kids.
- Passengers, laden with judgment, shooting death glares toward the aforementioned moms (and their aforementioned little ones).
For me, these observations are nothing new; I’ve experienced them first-hand when I travel with my kids, and I wrote a ton for Parenting about the larger problem (see here and here). What was different, however, and, to be honest, intoxicatingly wonderful, was Reimer’s tone.
She was firm yet hopeful. Didactic, but not annoyingly so. At one point, she came out and asked, point blank: “How about if we start [changing our ways] with a little sympathy?”
Then, with this snip, she transported herself to family travel-writing nirvana:
- “Why reward mom’s sincere attempt to keep family ties vibrant with your arrogance? Why not praise her endurance and her juggling act and offer to take the baby on your lap for a bit so she can drink her Diet Coke in peace? Or visit the bathroom? Why not turn around and distract the irritated kid kicking your seat with your bracelet, your funny faces or one of your pretzels? Why not offer a few words of praise as a mom grabs up all her stuff and, with a kid by the hand and another on the hip, gamely tries to exit the plane?”
I applaud the author not only for her message, but in the way she delivered it—with humor, humility and a hearty dose of chutzpah. Reimer’s column likely isn’t going to change a lot of minds, but every scintilla of sensibility makes a difference on this issue, and we family travelers need all the help we can get.