They got on an airplane in Florida 10 days ago -- on Sunday, January 14 -- expecting to fly to their home in Boston.
Before any plane can take off, all passengers must be seated in their own seats with seat belts fastened. But Elly didn't want to sit in her seat. According to the AP story reported in this morning's Chicago Tribune, Elly "was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat." An ABC News story reports that Elly had behaved well on the flight to Florida -- but when she got on the airplane to go home Elly "began to cry uncontrollably... throwing a temper tantrum on the floor."
The parents couldn't (or wouldn't) get the child under control and eventually, the plane already having been delayed 15 minutes by the hysterical toddler, the crew decided to remove the family.
They got kicked off the plane.
Now any parent can recall a time when his or her child has misbehaved in public. We can all sympathize with the parents, who surely must be mortified at their daughter's terrible behavior -- oh, wait, never mind.
This story is in the news today because the parents are angry. At the airline! Even though AirTran Airways flew the family home the next day. Even though they reimbursed the family for the cost of the tickets they bought on the flight they didn't take because of Elly's behavior. Even though they were even offered free round trip tickets to anywhere AirTran flies.
No! The airline is at fault because, quoting Julie Kluesza in the AP story, "We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything."
In unrelated news, Democrat Sally Lieber of San Francisco, a California legislator recently proposed a law in that State that would outlaw the spanking of any child "three years old or younger and carry a possible penalty of jail time or a 1,000-dollar fine." The AFP story reported January 19 on Yahoo! News quotes the sponsor of the proposed legislation as saying the law would be written to ban "any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that."
Or are these stories unrelated?
The Kuleszas could not have had Rep. Lieber's anti-spanking legislation in mind on January 14 as they let their child block the aisle in the airplane, waiting for her tantrum to blow over. But one can not help but speculate that the child was not brought under control because little, if any, effort was made to bring her under control. (In my view, pleas like, "Now Elly, Elly, this isn't the right way to behave, dear..." do not count as a legitimate effort.)
Now not even I would punch a three year old child. (Do I really have to offer that disclaimer?) But wouldn't you think Mom or Dad would have hoisted the child by scruff of her neck, plopped her in her seat and gotten in her face and told her to behave herself? (I might assured her that it was a very long walk from Florida to Boston, but I'm an old grouch.)
The Kuleszas said that unlike the AirTran crew, the passengers on the flight were sympathetic to their situation.
The Kulesza say that their fellow passengers seemed sympathetic. From the ABC News story:
"I jokingly turned around and asked the three gentlemen behind me, 'Aren't you glad you got these seats?" Julie said. "Another passenger offered up a lollipop to try and calm her down."I can only imagine what kind of medication had been spread on the lollipop before it was tendered.
And it's possible that the Kuleszas might have gotten some dirty looks or sniffs or harrumphs from their fellow passengers if they had acted like parents and made their child behave. I might have cheered and cringed at the same time: No one would want to have to discipline their child in public like that and -- at that time -- before the Kuleszas made their media rounds, I would have felt sorry for them.
But is that what parenting has come to these days? Spanking is a crime and demanding that you control your child offensive? Am I that far out of touch already?
I'll hang up and wait for your answers.