Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Oh my gawd, people, I am back to the homework wars. Last night, DH and I checked Ari’s homework and it was only halfway done. If we hadn’t reminded him, none of it would have been done for this morning. This was after he had been grounded for not turning in homework, after insane lecturing on our part and tears on his end, and after he had an entire week off school. Ugh!!! This homework thing is going to be the bane of our existence.

Once again, we took away the iPad and video games for a week and playdates on school nights. Every day after school this week, I will be closely monitoring to make sure that he completes it. Ay.

A group of moms in Montserrat, Spain, have gone topless for a racy calendar to raise money for their school buses, according to the TODAY Show moms blog. In case you are wondering, they have raised the money needed to keep bus service for 600 elementary school kids, which begs the question, how far would you go to fundraise for your kids’ school?

In other news: a Caucasian mom at BlogHer with an African American daughter wrote about the nuances of travel in this country — finding “friendly” places where non-white people can stay. I understand where she is coming from. I can think of two places, in which I felt uncomfortable being the only brown person that day. One of those places was in the deep south where people around me waved confederate flags and dropped the “n” word quite casually. I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut — and never returned. It’s sad that in this day and age we still have that in this country. I applaud this mother for recognizing it and protecting her daughter.

In people who are completely off the mark: Keli Goff at the Huffington Post wrote a piece about “why bad parents oppose kid-free flights.” I liked this comment by a self-described 52-year-old gay man with no children:

Here’s the million dollar answer. People of all ages travel by plane for medical reasons. Banning children from flights could be challenged on the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act if a child with cancer needs to fly to a cancer center for chemotherapy.

Yes, this. I would add that children are still people and it is a slippery slope to start deeming who is “too annoying” to fly. There are plenty of adults who arguably belong in this category, too. Unlike a private beach or club, air is public. Flying is just one of those things we all suck up because we have to — a funeral, an illness, visiting family, going on vacation, etc..

And that’s all I got. What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


A Family Section on Airplanes?

This hit too close to home as I just endured a miserable trip with a four-year-old and 16-month-old from Oakland, California to Manchester, New Hampshire. I am still recovering from that one. Gah!

So I was intrigued by Rachel Campos-Duffy’s column in ParentDish about a hypothetical family section on airplanes.

Last month a mom traveling with four kids, including an autistic son and a daughter with cerebral palsy, were detained in Phoenix and not permitted to board their connecting flight to Seattle because her kids were unruly on the previous flight.

However you feel about that incident, a recent study says that 85% of those polled believe that airlines should have a section reserved for adults traveling with children. When I first heard this statistic, I was initially indignant. Our society calls for tolerance of all types of people. What about kids? Should they be segregated like smokers, their cries the equivalent of carcinogenic second-hand smoke? The quality of air travel has declined enough without being forced to sit every flight in the back of the plane next to the smelly bathrooms….

But then I recalled my worst trip ever. I was traveling with my baby and three year-old and we had the misfortune of being seated next to a man who made no bones about his displeasure at being seated next to us – all this before my kids had even done anything. As karma would have it, he was treated to an inconsolable baby. Plus, my three year old uncharacteristically peed on her seat while sleeping. The seat was soaked and the airline blanket I subsequently put under her (what else could I do?) did nothing to mask the smell of urine for the remaining two hours of the flight. Needless to say, it was a long trip to Phoenix.

While I secretly felt that the grumpy old guy deserved it, the truth is that the entire situation was made worse because he was totally stressing me out. If I had been seated next to another parent with kids, I would have probably been more relaxed and better able to calm down my infant.

Amen to that! I, too, had a similar experience on this past trip to New Hampshire. We took a Southwest Airlines flight with a layover in Chicago. On the way to New Hampshire, Ari had an accident and ended up flying the rest of the way with his pants, but no underwear. On the way back home, Eli was inconsolable and the passengers around me were visibly annoyed. “Is she hungry?” one woman asked me. I snapped back, “No, she’s just bored!”

I was at my wit’s end and vowed never to travel alone with the kids again.

But I wonder if our own special section at the back of the plane would make traveling easier? Knowing that the people around me didn’t mind if my baby cried for the duration of the flight would probably take a load off my back. What do you think? Would you want seating reserved for families?

Also, I really felt for the mom and her disabled children who were left stranded in Phoenix. (The link is in the ParentDish story.) It does sound like the children were disruptive to the point it wasn’t safe for them to travel. But what is a mom of a special needs child supposed to do? Never fly? That seems unreasonable.

Is it possible to make the skies friendlier for everyone?


Why I’m never flying American Airlines again

How they screwed me out of over $300 dollars.

My family and I traveled to Montreal about a month ago. When we were on our way back, we had a stop in Chicago (with all of three minutes to make our connection because original flight was so late). Surprise! Our gate checked stroller was missing! The flight attendants looked everywhere and could not find it. They assured us that it had been taken to the next plane.

So there we were, flying down the terminal with checked baggage, a tired toddler, and everything else in hand. By the time we got there my arm was killing me (the reason my we take a stroller…).

When we got to Orange County our stroller was still nowhere to be found. We aren’t some wealthy family who buys three strollers just in case airlines lose them so this was a big deal. The stroller wasn’t cheap. A car was waiting for us so we called the airport when we got home. They again, assured us they would find it.

ONE WEEK LATER they called my husband saying that they had our stroller! He drove 1.5 hours in rush hour traffic and paid for parking at the airport only to realize that <del>oops!</del&gt it wasn’t his. Later I was asked my American Airlines workers why we hadn’t just taken the stroller. Um, because we don’t steal and there’s no need for another mom to be screwed like we were.

It’s been 30 days and I just got off the phone with a woman who told me there is nothing they can do. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said, “I’m not able to transfer you at this time.” No other explanation.

I’m so tired of dealing with companies who give a giant F-U to customer service. They don’t care about one customer’s needs, it doesn’t affect the bottom line in the long run. Well I’d like to take them up on their challenge. I’m going to show them that one customer does count, especially when she’s a pissed off mom.

Watch me.