Patience is not my Virtue
Leah Walker June 8, 2012

It was time for me to leave my brief life in Singapore. I had a 2:15 am flight out, so I headed to the airport around 11 pm. I managed to flag down an unusually chatty driver, not that I minded; it took my mind off leaving that wonderful country.

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The driver asked me the usual questions like, “What do you do? What did you like most? When are you coming back? When are you going to have baby?”

“Um…Excuse me? I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“Oh, yes, you and you husband have many baby. I know it. It never too late to start.”

I said, “Well, I’m in my mid-thirties, and that’s not really in our plans.”

“That nothing. I 37. My wife 42. We have two baby.

Was I really going to have to tell my cab drive that I had no desire for children? Fortunately, I didn’t have to as we were at the airport. I thanked him with a $6 tip, and was on my way.

In a distance the cabbie shouted, “Maybe I see you again soon with lots of baby!”

I kept walking.

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After making my way to my unopened gate, I set up camp. I sat near the travelator and passed the time playing Mejong Tiles and listening to my iPod.


“Whhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaa ”

I was reminded sooner than I had hoped about my tendency to become quickly irritated, mildly grumpy, and somewhat impatient when it comes to misbehaving children. {The previous statement might just be a gross understatement, by the way.} “For the love of God and my sanity, what is going on with those kids?” I thought to myself. My hands instinctively went to my temples. Fortunate that Bose makes a damn fine set of ear buds, the screaming was slightly dulled, but the banging was not. The travelator I was sitting against was motion activated and made a loud“whoosh” sound when it started. So for an hour, I felt “bam” and then heard “whoosh.”

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A couple of five-year old boys and a four-year old girl were the cause of all this commotion. In my book, they were old enough to be grabbed by the arm, and told to sit down and behave. I looked around to see who their mom might be. I saw her, and she was holding a crying baby. Great. Maybe I shouldn’t have complained about the drunk, loud Russians who repeatedly hit me {yes, put their hands on me} on the way to Singapore.

As a former teacher I am accustomed to dealing with other people’s misbehaving children. Sometimes I forget that I’m not at school though. Usually a stern drunk, loud Russianslook does the trick. For a slight second, I felt sorry for the mom. Not only did she have a screaming baby, but she also had toddlers to contend with. My brief compassion ran out when she gave the older son the baby’s rattle, and he shook it incessantly.

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It was time to board and first class and families were able to load first. When I saw the mom and her three children heading towards the gate, I also saw a small legion of family members. She was not on her own at all! I sooooo almost felt empathy for her, but it turns out that Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt {who also had a five year old daughter} were all along for the trip.

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What were these people doing when their kids were terrorizing Terminal 2, Gate 26? Mad was an understatement, as I could feel my right temple about to burst from my need-to-be-washed head. Surely the children would have gotten that energy out of their system before boarding the plane. They would be exhausted, watch cartoons, and sleep.

I purposely picked the back region of the plane; it was less crowded on my flight to Singapore. I also was aware where the bassinet seats were, so I carefully avoided them, too. As I slipped through the countless number of business class seats, on past the first section of economy, I removed the curtains to reveal my home for the next 22 hours.

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No. No. No. No. No. They were in my section, albeit at the front and me near the back. It was still too close for my liking. The trip could still be saved if I had three seats to myself. I would be gold despite the gymnastics team practicing their routine on my flight to Moscow. I got settled, watched a movie, ate dinner, took an Ambien, and then went to sleep.

Because of the drugs {and the white wine}, I was a little groggy, but I was certain I felt a reverberation. I think I wiped the drool off my cheek and fell back into my slumber. Again, boom-boom-boom-boom woke me up. I became a little more coherent, and pulled the blanket off of my face to see what was happening. The seatbelt light was still on, so it could have just been a dream.

I began to drift off once again, when I heard boom-boom-thud-hehehehe. That’s what I heard, but what I felt was a small head driven into my left tricep. I looked over, and those two kids, now with the help of their cousin, were running up and down the aisles. One ran into my arm!

I looked around for someone coming after them, but not a single person was around. I looked across the middle aisles, and a white dress, yellow t-shirt, and blue sweater streaked past the passengers on the other side of the plane.


Are you kidding me? I understand 11 hours, not to mention 22 hours are a long time to be on a plane for anyone, much less a kid. However, this was ridiculous. They again went by me, around through the kitchen, up to the front where their seats were. I looked at Grandpa, and he was just laughing and playing with them. I glanced over, and Mom and baby were both asleep. I thought that must be nice.

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Mom was obviously exhausted, and she was getting no help from the rest of her family. I felt sorry for her. I decided that I would do my part to help Mom and the rest of the 345 passengers on the plane. When the three kids ran by, I lowered my now-injured left arm to stop them. They stopped, and I snapped at them and told them to settle down. They did, but not for long. The only thing that I could figure out was that there was an endless Mountain Dew fountain and a cotton candy machine somewhere on that plane.

We landed in Moscow, and I offered up a prayer to the travel gods that this was the family’s final destination. All passengers collected their belongings and exited the plane. I knew the drill at this point. We had to go through Russian security before we could re-board and continue our flight to Houston.

“Please. Please. Please don’t let that family get back on this plane.”

After a quick hour, we were able to board for the second 11-hour leg. Things were looking up. I hadn’t seen the family yet, and I had three open seats. I knew that I would get some quality sleep. I made a palate with one of the extra blankets, lifted the middle arm rests and reclined them, piled my pillows up against the window, and took another Ambien. I found Shangri la. It didn’t take long for sleep to arrive.

Apparently, the travel gods did not hear my prayer or maybe they simply chose to ignore it.

Low and behold if the kids didn’t run down the aisle and slam into my feet. Really? Are we still letting the children have the run of the cabin? What is wrong with the family that allows their kids to act in such a manner? What is wrong with the flight attendants who are paid to control the cabin and make sure passengers are not disturbed? All that must go out the window, so to speak, when it comes to others’ children. I, for one, do not and will not, subscribe to this way of thinking.

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That was enough. I was going to do something, but what? I wasn’t even sure they spoke English. I knew something they would understand though. The next time I heard them running close to my area, I extended my legs into the aisle. The first time they ran into them, and like a pinball, bounced back from the direction in which they came. The second time they stopped and went around the other direction. The third time, I happened to meet them  by the bathroom. They stopped in their tracks and looked up at me as I glared down at them. Immediately the three children turned tail and walked back to their seats. I did not see or hear from them again.

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I had two theories: 1. My childish tactics scared them into their seats or 2. They crashed really hard from the Mountain Dew and cotton candy highs.

Either way, I couldn’t care less. But I know my airport cabbie wouldn’t think it such a grand idea for me to have children had he bared witness to the incidents that transpired over a mere 22 hours.

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Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Luxe Beat Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.


  1. Oh boy, controversial post! Personally I agree with you – I have an issue not with children, but with their parents or guardians. My first trip out of the house was when I was 2 weeks old, and never stopped since. My parents had 3 children in diapers at the same time and my mother says she doesn’t understand when she sees screaming kids at restaurants or airplanes. With no extra help, they knew what to do and were always on top of us. Screaming or running at a restaurant? Father would give you look 43. No meant no. And that meant we were hopefully good kids that nobody minded having around. Sadly it is hard work – and many parents can’t be asked to do this. And we all pay for this.
    I have a godson whose parents are doing an amazing job – and it takes time, but the results are wonderful. He says please, thank you and that is nice. He’s also naughty, but knows when it’s time for that – and not on a plane.

    Another comment – children in business class or first class? @numbertencat has a great story

    1. Yes, my problem is not with kids, it’s with the parents that don’t make them mind. There’s a time and place to let them run wild, but above the clouds in an enclosed environment isn’t one of them. I have two nieces that know how to behave. They weren’t born with that knowledge, no, my brother and sister-in-law worked their butts off teaching them. I imagine parenting is the most difficult and important job one can do, but there’s no excuse for such behavior. The kids were only doing what they were allowed to do. I don’t blame them one bit.

  2. Ohhh…if looks could kill, I’d be in jail too, Mary. Everyone on the plane, including the attendants, seemed to be shocked that this was actually happening. I’m really not using hyperbole in this story. As a matter of fact, I might be underplaying it a bit. I’d rather be hit on the head by a bunch of drunk Russians than deal with that nightmare again. It’s like a gunshot to the head vs being buried alive. It’s like I was dying a slow death.

  3. I love this piece, Leah! I may enjoy children more than you by a bit but that behavior by the parents/grandparents/aunt REALLY would tick me off too!! I have turned around in my seat before to tell a child to STOP punching the TOUCH screen on my seatback. And it has worked. Have not had to trip anyone!

  4. Whoa. I’ll admit that I was initially intrigued by the IAH-DME-SIN run until I learned a few weeks ago that you have to deplane and re-clear in DME (is a transit visa required?)…but I have no tolerance for undisciplined kids in a closed space. I might have been semi-OK with the drunk Russians as I speak some Russian; good to know that the famous Singapore Girls had your back! If I ever fly SQ it’ll be a non-stop, and preferably in the pointy end.

  5. I love these lines: “A couple of five-year old boys and a four-year old girl were the cause of all this commotion. In my book, they were old enough to be grabbed by the arm, and told to sit down and behave.” Hell, Leah, in my book those kids are old enough to have their respective asses cracked in fourths!

    1. Well, you know, Frank, you and I were brought up old school. My dad would have pinched the back of my arm until it bruised. I think I turned out ok, although that could be debated by some.

  6. I had a similar experience on the flight home from Italy last year. There was a family seated in the row in front of us: mom, dad, boy-child (approximate age: 5). That child did not sit in his seat once during the entire flight. He kept pressing the “call” attendant button, climbing on the seats, pulling the hair of the teenage-girl seated in front of him, and being a general nuisance. What were Mom and Dad doing? SLEEPING. THE WHOLE TIME. Dad finally woke up and tried to mind the child but the mother did not attempt to control her son once. Meanwhile, my two-year-old daughter was sitting quietly in the seat next to me. Not that Lucia is an angel or any better than the boy-child; the difference was that Mark and I stayed awake the whole time and didn’t allow her to act any other way. Bottom line is, when an older child (not an infant) is misbehaving on an airplane, it’s usually because of poor parenting.

    1. I would imagine misbehaving children are more frustrating for the parents who have behaving children. You’re doing your part to take care of your little one, but others aren’t doing the same. I hope that I get to fly with Lucia. She’s seems like she’s got it down already.

  7. Going through Moscow isn’t that big of a deal. There’s no visa required and they just run your bags through a machine. I’m not even sure if it’s plugged in. They clean the plane and board again. Yes, I’d like to have been at the pointy end, but I did have a whole row to myself on each of the four legs, so not so terrible.

  8. Loved this! “I kept walking” cracked me up, me thinks the taxi driver completely jinxed you in Singapore!

  9. I’d imagine out-of-control little ones can be a burden even on a short flight, but 22 hours? I’m not sure how you survived!

    I understand that kids have short attention spans, lots of energy, etc. but this is where parents need to step in. Some do and there ARE kids that are easy to travel with and a delight to be around.

    1. My sentiments exactly, Pola. This flight was several years ago and it’s still burned into my memory. I think I survived because throwing them out the emergency exit door wasn’t worth the rest of us dying too. Oh, that and the Ambien and alcohol.

  10. Ugh, kids on the plane are the worst. I should know, I was a terrible child passenger when I was younger. LOL. My issue when flying with family with children is not the out of control kids themselves (much) but the parents who ignore them and do absolutely nothing. Drives me nuts! Haha

    1. Those are my thoughts exactly, Kieu. Kids are going to do whatever they’re allowed to do. I suppose I should have addressed the parents and not the kids. I’ll remember that next time.

    1. Kids I don’t have a problem with. Now, misbehaving kids, that I have issue with. My theory is that it takes a village. If the parents aren’t going to wrangle them, it’s my duty help. :-)

  11. 9 kids under 2 on my flight from NZ to the US and still one of the best, easiest flights ever. I credit the parents (8 of which were Kiwi) for making the flight great for those around them.

  12. I know you are good with children and I too avoid sitting anywhere next to them on a plane, train etc. because most parents do not make their children behave, I have a big issue with that, my kids were well behaved or they got busted (literally, on the butt with whatever was handy) and I think its only polite and in good manners to make your children behave, I have the same issue with kids when I am dining or shopping for clothes or groceries, all I ask is for children to be well behaved or leave them at home.

  13. This story was hilarious and also stressful to read. It brought back memories–oh the memories. I love the pinball line, by the way. It cracked me up!

    I dealt with screaming twin toddlers on a flight from New York to Frankfurt, then on to Singapore. It was hell, I tell you. They seemed as if they were possessed. The mom was sleeping, by the way, and the sister was trying to control the kids. She failed miserably. And I barely slept.

    The kids were one row ahead of me, three seats to the left. We were in the center section.

    Anyway, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with these situations. Thanks for the entertaining read, too! :)

  14. Ok, so as a mom of two small traveling boys, I have to say I can feel the moms pain (cause really no mother likes a crying baby. It’s even more stressful in transit.) But what the heck were the rest of the family members doing! I am on top of my kids when we travel. I am training them up to be great fliers. Yes, the 2 year old still wants to kick the seat in front of him, but lucky for that person, his legs are too short. I have seen WAY too many parents think that when they fly they get to kick back and read their book still. Sorry gang. Hate to break it to you. We are parents no matter what mode of transportation or country we are living in. Are there times I’d like to run to the front of the plane and find a quiet seat away from my kids? Of course! I dream about napping on a plane again. But I don’t. My kids still cry and throw tantrums, but I am very proactive when this happens. Usually it is when we have had a long day of flying and no naps. But it’s the parents that just watch their kids in amazement that they don’t want to sit for 6 hours straight that drive me nuts. Get Up! Walk with your kids! Help them out! They are little people that just need some guidance, a stretch and maybe a snack. And pack some movies for goodness sake. If there was ever a need for tech it is on a plane!

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