I stumbled upon an interesting blog post last night while reading a newspaper online. The post was titled, "Where should parents change diapers on planes?" The title alone really caught my attention. As I alluded to on an earlier blog post, "flying with an infant," you never know when you may encounter a "pooplosion" on an airplane. When that happens, where do you change the diaper?
Back in November, I flew solo with my 18-month old as a lap-child when he decided to poop right as we were taking off. Since the seat belt sign was illuminated, I could not leave to change his diaper in the bathroom. I was very aware of the passengers seated next to me and even though I was tempted to change him at my seat, I waited until the seat belt sign was turned off so I could change his diaper in the bathroom. In the meantime, he was smelly and uncomfortable from his dirty diaper. All of the squirming made his diaper leak and his pants began to get soiled. When it was safe to leave my seat, I immediately made a beeline to the bathroom.
As any parent who has tried to change a diaper in an airplane bathroom will tell you, it is not a pleasant experience. It is tiny, smelly and dirty. If there is a changing table in the bathroom (which is usually right above the toilet in the line of fire of any airborne particles), it is probably full of bacteria and any curious toddler will try to touch and grab things around him (however disgusting that may be). To help with some of that, I put several layers of toilet seat covers over the table and my changing pad on top of that. Despite all of this "prep" work, my toddler refused for me to use the table.
It turns out that my toddler was too freaked out for me to put him anywhere. He suddenly became very clingy when I tried to put him down to change the diaper. Since the diaper had to come off, I literally had to hold him against my body with one arm and pull off his clothes and diaper with the other. I dangled him under his armpits all the while trying clean him and avoid getting any poop on myself. I also had to balance all of this so as not to touch the toilet or drop anything on that nasty floor. If this was caught on video, it would have easily made it onto America's Funniest Home Videos. This was quite the ordeal for both of us but we managed to do it after occupying the restroom for several minutes.
After reading the post last night, I couldn't help but think that it would have been easier if I could have just changed him at my seat. My fellow passengers could smell him anyway and the friendlier confines of the seat would have made him more comfortable. By the end of our bathroom ordeal, we were both covered in poop (which it is why I will always pack extra clothes for the both of us going forward) and we were probably smellier after the fact than if we could do it quicker and probably cleaner at our seat. I know it would be considered extremely rude by other passengers but this was a situation that seriously made me think about throwing etiquette out the window. Frequent travelers are already upset at parents traveling with children and the airlines are making it increasingly difficult to travel with children. Why not give travelers another experience they won't soon forget? What do you think? Would you be offended if a desperate mother who is traveling alone with a toddler changed his diaper at her seat?