As I made my way down the aisle yesterday for my flight back from Tampa I saw two kids sitting in the row I was to take. They had the aisle and middle seat – I was to sit by the window where a bald baby doll was strapped in. The mom was in the aisle ordering them to behave themselves and not to bother anyone and that she would be just across the aisle watching them! I asked if she’d rather sit with her kids and she pointed to a third child strapped into the seat next to where she’d be. So I was with two kids on one side of the aisle while she’d be on the other side with her other one. Between us though was a Korean man who apparently spoke no English and was disinterested in making a better seating arrangement for all of us.
I made small talk with the four year old girl to my left. Well, I accepted her invite for small talk. We’d chat and I’d answer questions about why I wore glasses and what I had for breakfast and then I watch her get scolded for talking to the ‘nice man next to you!’
We’d sit in silence for 30 seconds and then she’d start in again. I was having no trouble talking to her and was enjoying myself but every few minutes or so her mom would scold her and even went as far as to offer money to her if she stopped. (Later she did give her a daughter a dollar. When her mom turned away, she split it with me by ripping it in half and saying I was talking too.)
What to do?
Ignore the child and be rude or talk and get her in trouble?
She asked me to help her with her homework.
“What do I do on this page?” She asked pointing to a cartoonish page of 1800’s America.
“Draw a circle around the things that don’t belong in the picture of old timey times.” I said running my finger across the words.
She circled the dad and told me they didn’t have dads in old times. She circled the dog and said they didn’t have pets. She circled the wheel chair and said they didn’t have those either. For this one I had to think though. It was a modern chair but they must have had some sort of wheel chair.
“Argue with the teacher if she marks that wrong.” I told her.
When she missed the airplane up top I asked her what that was.
“An airplane, dummy! Like the one we are on!” She said.
“They didn’t have those back then.” I told her.
“Of course they did! What if they wanted to go see their family or go to another city?”
“They rode horses.” I told her. “Or horse and carriages.”
“No they didn’t!” She rebutted. “They put their horses on the plane! They left the carriages behind.”
I let her think that… I was just a guy on a plane.
I pointed to the light outside the barn in the picture. “And what about that.”
“Did they have lights?” She asked out loud. “Of course they had lights.” She answered out loud. “Without lights they wouldn’t have seen the little baby Jesus.”
It was September and she was referencing the little baby Jesus.
“Don’t you think they used candles?” I asked.
“Of course not. They didn’t have birthday cakes then. Candles are for birthday cakes. You don’t get a cake when you are born only when you are one.”
How to argue with that? Again, I was just a guy on a plane.