I said it. I invoked Karma as a threat, as an epithet, as a balm for my dignity, wounded by glares and stares and unsolicited advice, whispered indignantly over crossed arms as an entire airport observed my children in full fury.
As newbie parents we'd made a critical error. Thinking our family vacation flight would be easier if the kids were asleep, we'd kept them up late and woke them up early. We brought them to the plane in their PJs as an amulet for sleepy time. In retrospect, from the battered perch of a wizened old dad, I can see where we went wrong.
Our kids weren't about to sleep for two reasons: The girl was jacked up on theme park anticipation, loudly and diligently planning our trip, assuming I was noting her every command on a spreadsheet and alerting the authorities.
Simultaneously, our sleep deprivation experiment was causing her to hallucinate she was somehow related to Mickey Mouse and when we got there he'd send us a carriage so we could all do lunch.
Also, she was cranky. I wanted to avert disappointment so I told her, gently, carefully, that Mickey Mouse was busy so we'd probably not be lunching with him, to which she replied "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" and threw herself on the floor.
Meanwhile, my son was using his incredible toddler superpowers to give himself an ear infection that would cause his head to explode somewhere over Alabama.
And so we boarded, last, our progeny howling and gnashing their teeth down the aisles as each row of passengers greeted us with laser focused preflight hatred.
I got in my seat, leaned over to my wife and said it:
"I'll NEVER judge screaming kids on a plane or diapers or anything!"
So there we are on a return flight from a kidless vacation 13 years later, comfy in the next to the last row. From the front of the plane we hear a tornado of wailing, sneezing, lugubrious triplets, pushed, dragged and carried by a couple who looked like earthquake survivors to the seats directly behind us. The second the wheels left the ground all three pooped in unison engulfing our section of the plane in a sulfuric death plume that made my eyes water and broke my iPad.
Yet I smiled. I smiled and I inhaled and breathed deep the fecund perfume of new life. Never did I grimace. Never did I glare over my seatback. Didn't even cross my arms.
These poor people had invoked enough hell on their own having thruplicated. Who was I to add to their worries? Who was I to judge? I ordered scotch and when the stewardess glanced meaningfully toward the beleaguered parents and asked me how was I enjoying the flight, a glance surely captured by the guilt ridden suffragettes in the last row, a glance that held judgment in its bosom and threatened to poorly adjudicate their triple poops, I spoke up loud and clear: "Why it's delightful. Could not be happier. I'm having a marvelous time."