My family and I recently took a trip to Houston to see my parents. From Wichita, minus bathroom breaks, it's at least a 10-hour drive each way, so we opted to fly. Since flying anywhere from Wichita tends to cost a small fortune, we drove to Oklahoma City to catch a less expensive, direct-with-one-stop-in-Dallas flight to Houston.
Airplanes are not built for families of four, only multiples of three. My husband sat on the right side of the plane with our 10-year-old son and I sat on the left side of the plane with our 7-year-old son, right behind the Wicked Witch herself. (Did I mention I live in Kansas? Wizard of Oz references are required in order to maintain residency status.)
The Wicked Witch was an older woman who was very tall. She chose to sit in front of my 7-year-old.
Airplanes are also not built for children with short legs. When my little guy sat "properly" in the seat, the end of the seat base came to the thickest part of his calves. Not comfortable. Neither is sitting "properly" with his knees over the end of the seat base, which curved his back funny and tilted his chin to his chest. He'd sit up properly and end up sliding down the seat. Several times.
Since his short legs couldn't reach the floor to push himself back upright each time he slid down his seat involuntarily, he put his feet on the rail in front of him (see: back of Wicked Witch's seat) for assistance. The first time he did this, before we had even made it to the runway, she turned and gave me a dirty look.
I apologized and turned to my son and told him to keep his feet away from the back of her seat.
But he really couldn't help it.
Before we even made it to Dallas, she turned to her husband and said quite loudly, "I wish that kid would stop kicking the back of my seat. He's kicking so hard!"
I apologized again, earnestly. I explained that he wasn't doing it on purpose and why he kept doing it. She ignored me. I was angry.
First, this elderly bag was no frail old lady. She was a fairly fit, very tall woman. Second, my son is no kickboxer. He's 7. He's even small for a 7-year-old. Third, he wasn't kicking the back of her seat, he was placing his feet on the metal bar that ran across the back of her seat to scoot his bottom back onto his seat.
When we landed in Dallas, I so hoped she'd get off the plane. Alas, no. She would be continuing on to Houston with us. I had my 7-year-old trade seats with my 10-year-old while wondering if this woman had grandchildren and simultaneously feeling sorry for them.
Finally, we got off the plane in Houston where I told my own mother the story about the Wicked Witch as we walked toward baggage claim. My mom was able to point her out at the baggage carousel with very few details from me because the Wicked Witch was casting my son dirty looks.
For a moment I considered taking a picture of the Wicked Witch and starting a website called "Grandma Shaming," similar to Dog Shaming. But I couldn't do it. That would be rude.
I have several points to sum up my angry ramblings, so bear with me.
One: The older generation of people is constantly complaining that the younger generations are being raised without manners. I was polite and apologetic. My son was truly sorry. Where were her manners?
Two: Grouchy people, (and I do consider myself one of them, although I do have manners - see item One), should never sit near other people's children on an airplane.
Three: Airplanes should have a little flip-down booster seat built into the seatback for children under four feet tall.
Four: The website, dog-shaming.com rocks.