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Parenting: On air travel and report cards

Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase area. Here she shares her story about air travel with young children.

People stared at me as I got off the plane in Atlanta, and the gaze only intensified as I frantically searched for the closest ladies room in Concourse B.

As I stood at the bathroom sink, a kind woman with a Southern accent asked, "Honey, what happened to you?" My 20-month-old son had just thrown up all over me as our plane landed, and I was desperately trying to make myself presentable before our next flight took off in 25 minutes.

I had packed a change of clothes for my son, but I never imagined I would need clothes for myself. Before Ryan's first flight, my main concern was that his ears would hurt, but motion sickness didn't even cross my mind.

I learned the hard way that air travel with kids can be unpredictable and challenging, but being prepared can make things less stressful.

My son is 6 now, and he has made 10 round-trip flights to places such as Las Vegas, Denver and Honolulu. In order to combat motion sickness, he only eats bland foods before a flight. No juice, sugary foods or big meals.

I also bring along snacks such as cereal, crackers and dried fruit, and he only drinks water. I'm happy to say that he has never gotten sick on an airplane again, however, I do pack a change of clothes for all of us, just in case.

Over the course of many flights, I have learned that it's important to keep kids entertained on the plane, so I pack accordingly. My son is content to watch a movie on our portable DVD player, but my 3-year-old daughter would rather color and look at books.

Each of them brings a backpack with their items of choice, along with one "travel buddy," a small stuffed animal. I also bring my backpack filled with snacks, spill-proof cups, wipes and a few surprises. Since my daughter loves books, I always buy a few new ones and give them to her mid flight, and I surprise my son with a new DVD for him to watch.

During the final descent, when all electronic devices have to be turned off and everyone has to stay seated, I give the kids construction paper to decorate with new stickers. They find this surprisingly simple task to be highly entertaining. This is also the time when their ears can hurt, so they each get a small lollipop. The sucking motion helps ease their discomfort and keeps them occupied until we land.

As adults, we know that airplane travel isn't always easy, and expecting kids to sit quietly in their seat for several hours with nothing to do isn't realistic. Being properly prepared is key to keeping kids occupied and content from takeoff until landing.

Keith Berry is a married father of two who lives in the Westchase area. Here he shares his thoughts about parents who offer cash incentives for good grades.

One morning on my way to work, I walked by two long sheets of paper on the counter that happened to be my oldest son's fifth-grade progress report for the year. I paused to take note of the fact that the vast majority of his grades were A's.

In some homes, stellar grades might be cause for a parent to pull out a wallet and dole out cash to the child. But not in mine.

As a student of history, I have a ready excuse for keeping an abundance of what most people would deem too much stuff around the house. However, I always knew one of my old report cards would come in handy someday even though it reflected my pedestrian academic career in grade school.

When I completed my doctorate in history in 2005, I actually took the liberty of obtaining all of my grades from elementary school through high school so I could measure my own progress. My son's recent progress report led me to check my entire primary school record, and to my fascination, he earned more A's in fifth grade than I made during my entire elementary school career.

Needless to say, I am proud of the work that my son has put forth in his studies, but I am equally proud of his teachers and my wife for their diligent support of his development.

Pride, however, should not translate to pay.

While many people believe that children should be rewarded financially for academic achievement, I could not disagree more. I choose not pay for what I expect of him regarding his studies.

It is important to note that my son does not have to bring home all A's but he must do his best. That's why my parents always told me that they knew I could bring home better grades. The expectations they established eventually helped me complete my doctorate.

Parents should set parameters for what they expect of their children, while allowing them the space to find their own path, at their own pace. However, paying for grades will not help children meet their own expectations once you are no longer financing them.

Luckily, my parents never compared me to my older brother, who eventually graduated from Princeton University, because they set expectations for both of us.

Hopefully, my wife and I will successfully set expectations for both our sons so they can achieve whatever they desire. If my digitally competent children bother to hold on to their grades, I'm sure they will be stored on a chip in their eyeglasses. However, I'm collecting the hard-copy report cards so I can pull them out and show my grandchildren what can be achieved without using money as an incentive.

Parenting: On air travel and report cards 02/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 2:03pm]
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