Recent evidence has revealed that a significant proportion of parents drug their children for a more peaceful vacation. Controversy has been stirring on both sides of the Pacific. Jefferson Taylor throws some punches as he tears into both sides of the argument…
The problem with selecting your own plane seat is that you never know who’s occupying the surrounding seats. Window or aisle? I don’t remotely care, just keep me away from the family of six screaming their way to Disneyland. There’s always a nervous few minutes at the boarding gate, when you scan the passengers and calculate the possibility of being seated anywhere within five rows of anyone under the age of 12. Adults have alcohol to occupy the boredom. Children, it’s been revealed, have their own sedative. Hooray I shouted, and wrote a letter to Delta Airlines recommending that Phenergan be prescribed to any little blighter not capable of waiting silently in the check-in queue. Why not even give a discount to parents prepared to dope their children for the benefit of other passengers?
The Evidence of Parents Drugging Their Children
In Australia, a survey by car insurer GIO, found that one in five parents admit to drugging their children to make long journeys more peaceful and comfortable. The findings caused quite a storm around the world. UK mothers hit the viral networks and admitted to slipping a sedative to their kids on long haul flights. American families were similarly insistent beneath a backlash of protest: why not resort to Phenergan Elixir, an over-the-counter antihistimine that knocks kids into uninterrupted sleep? In a Tripadvisor poll, over a third of Britons said they would pay extra if they could travel in adult-only planes.
Criticism of the parents was also universal. Newspapers suggested it was practically child abuse, a parents’ group in Australia claimed it was “morally outrageous,” and the viral networks were flooded with those indignant in their outrage. “What is the world coming to?” was the general cry. I also softened my original stance when taking a four year old on a plane. As the Atlantic Ocean twinkled beneath the wingtips, my ineffectual uncle skills were being chastised by a few hundred others. My four year old niece had been screaming nonstop for a few hours, the only competing sound being the continual tutting emanating from passengers whose eyes burnt with hatred as they remarked, “can’t you shut that thing up?” I reached for the sedatives. But I couldn’t do it.
The Alternatives to Sedating Children on Long Haul Flights
If it was my own children, perhaps a spoonful of medicine would have been administered. Drugging someone else’s kids was an option that escaped my moral boundaries. But what are the other options? Watch them go square eyed as they smash the touch screen sensitivity off an ipad? 80% of families in GIO’s survey use handheld computer games to keep their children entertained. While the politically correct brigade slated Phenergan giving mothers for going on a family vacation and not enjoying time together, the use of a mind-numbing screen was lauded as clever parenting. At least sedatives don’t cost $400 and cause tears when you forget to charge them.
Traveling with children and has always been a hassle. Whistle back just over a hundred years and you’ll find that doping kids isn’t a new phenomenon. A little opium went a long way to ensuring middle class children presented themselves as obsequious charms after a multi-day journey. A quick dose of disguised gin or whiskey was the working class equivalent. Almost 50 years on from Mary Poppins, Etihad Airways haa even introduced their own version of flying nannies. Rather than being propelled by umbrellas, the airline aims to have 500 nannies flying long haul and curing boredom with “activities like hand puppet making, origami, and learning magic.” The approach has to be admired, but good luck using paper folding to occupy the x-box generation.
A No-Win Situation
Somewhere above the Atlantic I reflected on the sneers of my fellow passengers. As niece Zoe screamed and screamed I slumped into a no win situation. I was being rebuked for being a bad parent (the passengers weren’t to know I was only the uncle) because the turbulence and claustrophobia of the plane were far too much for a four year old. Passengers even made suggestions. Wait, I’ll rephrase. Women aged 30 – 50 who were consistent in shooting me abusive looks, made suggestions. Perhaps I could play I-spy or read her a book. Unopened bottles of miniatures proved that I was offering undivided attention to my bawling youngster, but the poor girl was scared shitless. I was trying. And failing.
However, the same sneering passengers are part of the group that fly into moral disgust when told that parents drug their children to enable a bit of peace and respite. The same sneering passengers that criticize me for not keeping Zoe quiet, are those that shout: “Drugging children on flights? If you’re not capable of occupying your offspring on a plane then perhaps you should stay at home.”
How Bad Is It To Drug Children For a Peaceful Vacation?
Clearly, administering a little sleeping syrup isn’t the healthiest option for a child. But neither is half a kilo of sweets or supporting an obsession with Barbie. If it was my children, on a long haul flight I would sedate them, for the chief benefit of reducing the collective blood pressure of the groaning masses seated nearby. Some parents are clearly against the idea and wouldn’t dream of doing it. But why does this topic cause such a storm of controversy? Why is parenting such a fiercely debated topic? When evidence of parents drugging children for a peaceful flight rears its head, the viral networks quickly debate the actions of the individual parents. But why aren’t we questioning what passengers do to cope with this inconvenience? Rather than how to occupy the child, how about how to occupy yourself?
Why Question Parents’ Actions? Why Not Question Passengers’ Attitudes?
This isn’t 1970. We’ve all been on planes before. We’ve all encountered screaming children seated nearby. Hey, we’ve all probably been that screaming child at some point in our lives. Yet there’s always a proportion of miserable sods who moan and grumble so fiercely they suck the collective buzz of going on vacation out of the air.
It could be worse. Those snarling passengers could be sat at home. They could be sat at work. As it is, they’re flying off to some exotic destination and the only thing they can do is work themselves into a stressed frenzy. Put on some Mozart, watch a film, dream about your destination… Just do something to stop throwing death stares at the poor buggers who either can’t silence their kids, or silence them with a dose of Phenergan. It’s simple. If you don’t like the airplane food, stop complaining about it and bring your own food instead. And if you’re not capable of putting in some ear plugs and getting red wine drunk on a plane then perhaps you should also stay at home.
If everyone just accepted that children will scream on planes, then parents wouldn’t have to debate whether to use a drug to keep their offspring quiet.