I was taking a quick flight back from Orlando, FL to Lubbock, TX with a brief stop in Austin to let passengers get off and more get on. While waiting to board in Orlando, I saw a small family (Dad, two year old son, and Very Pregnant Mom) sitting in front of me. Dad had brought the little boy a Happy Meal. Upon opening it, he refused to eat it, screaming ‘No!’ then pushing it away. I cringed; not that McDonald’s is the finest of foods, but the kid is two, meaning if he doesn’t eat something, he’ll get hungry and cranky within no time, and the rest of the passengers are going to have to deal with his screaming for the flight (I’m a teacher and former au pair; I know what little kids can be like when they’re not fed!).
I wish there could have been a bet on that one, because I would have won the jackpot. No sooner had the kid been buckled in the aisle across from me than he began screaming. Well, not ‘screaming,’ but rather shouting, ‘NO! NO! NO!’ at the top of his tiny little lungs. I took this as a cue to put on my headphones and drown out his very vocal temper tantrum. Perhaps it was because the ear buds I was using were from Walgreen’s and not top of the line, but that kid even drowned out my music he was that loud. After the plane had taken off, he still screamed ‘NO!’ but would change it in tempo, sometimes quickly shouting, ‘NONONONONO!’ in rapid succession, and then sometimes hollering ‘NOOOooooOO!’ in an almost Castrati-like operatic way with dips below and beyond the forte line. I must admit, when he then changed his operatic way to a shrieking ‘No! No! No!’ while violently kicking the chair in front of him (that passenger deserved canonization), he kept the bass line with the Tool song I was listening to (‘Parabalus’ if you must know). Finally, at one point, he settled down right before we landed in Austin. I took off my ear buds as the fellow passenger next to me tapped my arm. He asked loudly, somewhat jokingly, somewhat serious, if our future Axel Rose to the left had stopped.
As if on cue, our little protagonist screamed ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ as if getting stabbed by Norman Bates in a shower. Our entire row cracked up. I looked at the father who had a ‘please shoot me’ look on his face while his son screamed himself blue and thrashed in his seat. Upon arriving in Austin, the family ran out of the plane as quickly as they could. The guy next to me asked the flight attendent if she knew what the little boy wanted, why he was carrying on the way he was. She cracked a huge smile and said, loudly, ‘Nooooo!’ Ah, at least she had a sense of humor.
At lunch with my new staff a few days later, a co-worker mentioned that one of the first words a toddler learns and says is ‘no.’ No one had any clue why I burst out laughing!