The kids and I settled in quite quickly to our new place - after all, we're familiar with the people and places, and we fell into a routine. Sydney is attending the preschool that Jacob used to go to before we moved to California, and Jacob picked right up with his second grade class at his new school. Both are doing phenomenally well - even despite the upheaval of moving after beginning the school year in California. Thank God kids are so resilient!
Our next flight was from Buffalo to Arizona to be with Matt's family for Thanksgiving - our annual tradition, no matter what part of the country we're living in. This time, I remembered to fully charge my laptop for movies, brought new coloring books and activities to hold the kids' attention, and everything was going swimmingly! They were being so good.
We were maybe about an hour from landing (after an almost 5 hour flight), and the next thing I know, the passenger sitting in front of Jacob stood up, turned around, whacked Jacob on the head and said something along the lines of, "Stop pushing the back of my seat, you little bastard!"
I could NOT believe what I just witnessed. Jacob and I looked at each other in shock, and he cowered under his tray table, crying. I looked at this old miserable fuck and asked, "Did you just hit my kid?!"
I mean, I had seen Jacob pushing on the seat in front of him earlier and I told him to stop it, but with the tray tables down and Sydney sitting between us, I couldn't see - and I didn't notice if his tray was moving or not from any pushing that was going on, but still!
I told the man he should have told me if there was a problem, not touch my kid. He said he told Jacob to stop earlier. I didn't witness that, and if it really did happen, he must have said something to Jacob when I took Sydney to the bathroom (coward), but Jacob never mentioned anything. Trying to reason with this asshole, I explained that he should have said something to me if he had a problem with something Jacob was doing, and if he wasn't comfortable saying something to me, that there was a little button above his head he could press to summon a flight attendant. I even offered to press it for him if he couldn't reach...
Because it all happened so fast, I couldn't tell if his hand made contact with Jacob's head, so I kept pressing him to find out. In the heat of the argument, he explained that if Jacob pushed on his seat one more time, that he would hit him again - harder.
At this point, I had ALL I could do to keep my hands off this guy. My voice got very loud and deep (my head may or may not have turned 360 degrees), and I don't remember all I said except that no matter how much Jacob may have been pushing on his seat, there were other things he could have done other than touch my child. I envisioned myself doing various different, violent, painful things to him, but somehow restrained myself because I didn't want to traumatize my children any further than they already were, and I didn't want to have the plane make an emergency landing somewhere other than Phoenix. I just wanted to get there. I was so angry that I was shaking.
After I said my piece to this piece of shit, I sat down, leaned over to Jacob, and told him very calmly not to worry at all because if that man touches him again, he's going straight to jail.
I can understand the frustration of having your seat pushed during a flight, but people - PLEASE take my advice and either politely tell a parent or guardian with the child what is happening (since they may not even be aware of it), or let a flight attendant know. DO NOT EVER lay a hand on a child. EVER. Which is exactly what I told that - um - man.
People were coming up to me and patting me on the shoulder, saying I did a good job and they would have done the same thing. I had such tunnel vision when I was dealing with him that I wasn't even aware of anyone else around me, so I was actually kind of surprised when people said these things to me.
After I had a chance to sit down and take a few deep breaths and make sure the kids were okay, the three of us went to the front of the plane to tell the attendants about the incident. They weren't there to witness since we were having some turbulence and they had to be seated and buckled up. I told them what happened and we arranged to have the police meet us at the gate upon our arrival.
I hadn't decided at that point if I was going to have him arrested or not, but I knew that a good "talking to" from an attendant or even an airline official wouldn't be enough to make any kind of impact on this guy, so at the very least, I wanted him to have to talk to the police.
Most of the people on the flight were continuing on to L.A., but some passengers whose final destination was Phoenix volunteered to stay back and be our witnesses. Bless them. I didn't even think to ask anyone to do that.
Of course, he denied everything - even lying to say he asked me to tell Jacob to stop. Even though I overheard him, I knew better than to try to shout and interrupt to exclaim that he was lying - mostly because of the kids (didn't want to make things even more scary for them), but I didn't want it to turn into a "Jerry Springer" moment. The police knew better, anyway - especially since we had witnesses and he didn't have squat. His wife didn't even utter a word in his defense. Poor woman.
It was mainly because of her that I decided not to have him put in jail that night for a felony charge. It was, after all, Thanksgiving, and the police reassured me that if he pulled anything like this again, they would see it on his record. That's all I really needed. I wanted to scare the shit out of him and also make it so that if he ever did anything like this again (if this man has children, my heart sincerely goes out to them), then it would be a pretty cut and dry case. Legally, it would have been hard to prove since no one actually saw his hand make contact with Jacob's head, and the jurisdiction would be questionable since we were thousands of feet in the air.
Another situation in which people said, "In all my years of (yada yada yada), I've never seen anything like this!" I'm kind of tired of being so far out of the norm. Beyond tired, actually.
But, alas, the adventures continue...