Cover that kid’s mouth!

A year or so ago when CableDad and I were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Tokyo I was amazed to see so many people on the subways and streets wearing surgical or respiratory masks. I had seen a number of people in Toronto wearing them as well, but that was after the “big SARS scare” (What a freaking media hype that was!) and they were paranoid about getting sick. So, naturally, I first thought these Japanese commuters were just symptoms of a highly paranoid culture (wait, then why don’t American’s do it?) until my SIL pointed out to me that they wears masks if they are sick. Or are getting sick. Or think they might be getting sick. Or there is the remote possibility that they may have at one point in time exhibited some signs that could possibly indicate that they may get sick at some point in the future. They weren’t paranoid. They were polite! No wonder I was confused.

I didn’t think much about it afterwards until, that is, the night before last when we were on our overnight flight back from Seattle. (You’d think that after all of those years living in Europe and having to take overnight flights back home I’d have learned my lesson about airplanes and sleeplessness, but no luck. That’s a rant for another time.) Let me start by saying that I’ve never in my life seen a flight more heavily populated by children and babies. In the four rows surrounding us there were at least 6 infants. No, I’m not kidding. Thankfully, however, they were all air travel stars. Not one meltdown. Can you believe it? MJ as well was a star. On the flight out to Seattle two different flight attendants said that she was the best baby on the flight and one said she was the most well behaved baby she’d ever seen on an airplane. She even gave her a Alaska Airlines wings pin to award her for her first flight.  Yes, I’m a bragging mamma.

Ok, back to my point: Across the isle from us was a mother traveling with her two children. One of them looked to be about 4 or 5 and the other about 10-12. Well, this 10-12 year old girl was obviously sick. She was hacking and coughing the whole flight (one of the many factors contributing to a night of sleeplessness for everyone around us, the other mainly being the most uncomfortable seats on any known airline). Admittedly, I felt for the poor girl. I mean, who likes being sick? Even more so, who likes being sick on an airplane when you can’t even lie down and get comfortable. Poor thing. Let me say this right now: My complaint is not about the kid; no, my complaint is about the mother. Apparently this poor child’s mother had never taught her to cover her mouth. With every chocking cough this kid sprayed the seat back in front of her with her germs. Did I mention the two infants in the row ahead of her?

Then I started thinking about it. (Ok, I’ll admit it. I started thinking about it after CableDad went off on a rant that this kid was going to get MJ and everyone else on the plane sick since we’re all breathing the same canned air.) Would it really have been so difficult for the mother to go to CVS or Wallgreens and buy a mask for her kid? I mean, she knew she was going to be flying. She knew her kid was sick. Nearly every drugstore in this country sells masks. It would not have been difficult to be considerate to the other 160 some odd passengers on the overfull flight?

Now I would understand if her child were too young.  I mean, who the hell in their right minds (except perhaps the Japanese) would try to put a mask on a 4 year old and expect it to remain on the whole time.  But this kid was well old enough.  I strongly feel that the girl’s mother should have had her child wear a mask so that the rest of us did not have to share her germs.  Did I mention the 6 infants?  At the VERY LEAST she could have told her kid to cover her mouth.


~ by CableGirl on Thursday, July 12, 2007.

6 Responses to “Cover that kid’s mouth!”

  1. When I first heard about the Japanese mask phenomenon, I thought “How considerate! What a great idea!” That and hand washing / Purell stations everywhere would cut down on disease SO much.

  2. You know, there was a teenage girl who was on a school trip to NYC over the winter that literally got kicked off the plane because she kept coughing. One of the chaperones on the trip had to get off the plane with here and they had to stay in NYC for an extra night and get another plane the next day. Can you imagine?

  3. “They weren’t paranoid. They were polite!” Interesting realization, huh? We’re not really used to “polite” around here, are we? Great post!

  4. Good point. I feel this way quite often as a preschool teacher and now as a mama to a kid who seems to catch EVERY virus that floats by. COVER THE MOUTH. Keep your kid home from school if the nose is running green and viscous snot, and certainly if there has been FEVER! And yes, like you said, be polite on an airplane especially and if you are sick, think about protecting the people around you. COVER YOUR MOUTH!

  5. As should be expected, MJ and I are now both sick and neither one of us is happy about it.

  6. Forget the plane get me some of those masks around the house!

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