I was fortunate enough to have toddlers in the row in front of me and in the row behind me on my long flight yesterday. Their behavior was IDENTICAL, so I figure there must be a handbook for toddlers.
Traveling Tips for Toddlers:
As a toddler, your job is to provide the sort of adrenaline rush for your parents that they would normally get from, say, a mortar attack. This will require a lot of energy, so be sure to fall into a deep slumber the minute you are strapped into your car seat for the trip to the airport. Your parents will fret that this means you won’t sleep on the airplane. (Sleep on the airplane! Ha ha! Where do they come up with this stuff?)
Airports are rich in wonderful things to put in your mouth. First, though, you need to take the elevator to the ticketing counter. It is your job to push all the buttons on the elevator — if someone else puts a finger on even one button, throw yourself on the ground and scream.
Once you are in the terminal, you will notice an occasional drinking fountain. Insist on drinking from each one you pass. If your parents act as if your demands are somehow less important than getting to the plane on time, throw yourself on the ground and scream. Once they have relented, the proper technique for using a drinking fountain is to thrust yourself far enough forward to wash the upper half of your t-shirt. Done correctly, you should be able to force a clothing change at least once per concourse.
If you are lucky enough to have a little brother or sister, insist on pushing the stroller. If your parents try to prevent this, throw yourself on the ground and scream. Once you have control of the stroller, see if you can find the escalators.
While waiting to board your flight, your parents will try to distract you with fun games. Insist you want your “favorite toy,” and whatever they hand you, that’s not it. To illustrate the point, throw yourself on the ground and scream. All you’re interested in is the role-playing exercise where you’re the child and they are the kidnappers. See how many people in the airport you can involve in this fun game!
You will be allowed to get on the airplane before anyone else because your parents need “extra time.” This is called “pre-boarding the passengers.” Once you are seated, start airing out your lungs. This is called “pre-shrieking the parents.”
The other passengers in your row are there to wipe your hands on and can also serve as air-sickness receptacles. There’s usually some old guy in the seat behind you who wants to play peek-a-boo. Spit on him.
Experienced toddlers can usually manage to ruin another outfit or two before takeoff, but don’t feel pressured to accomplish this if you’re a relative novice. It’s far more important to make sure that the people on the plane are all aware of your presence and your mood. Use your parents as a stepladder so you can see everyone, and if you spot someone napping or attempting to work on a business presentation, you know what to do.
That’s right: Throw yourself on the floor and start screaming.
Have a great trip!
— W. Bruce Cameron
W. Bruce Cameron, who has keynoted and offered workshops at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, is best known as the Benchley Award-Winning, #1 USA Today and #1 New York Times’ bestselling author of the A Dog’s Purpose series of books. He’s also, along with his wife Cathryn Michon, the screenwriter for the Amblin/Universal film A Dog’s Purpose, which has gone on to become the most successful international live action dog movie of all time. He has published 15 books, and his books have become international bestsellers, having been translated into more than 50 languages. The Sony Pictures release of his bestselling book A Dog’s Way Home, and the movie A Dog’s Journey, again from Amblin/Universal, were released in 2019. He and his wife are screenwriters for both of those films. His novels for younger readers have won awards and are being taught in classrooms everywhere. His highly anticipated novel A Dog’s Purpose 3: A Dog’s Promise will be released in October.