To The Four Year Old On The Verge Of A Temper Tantrum Who Is Waiting To Board My Flight To Los Angeles

                                             Mom and Dad are both in need of a cabernet IV right about now.

Hey, Little Girl.

Look, I get it. I was there once. Airports are boring, and planes are boring, and the things that your Mom brought to keep you occupied in the airport are also boring. You smashed through that Dora the Explorer picture book in like five minutes. I know this because you read it out loud – quite loud – to your Mom, even as she anxiously asked you to lower your voice.

But that’s cool. You’ve clearly got above average reading comprehension skills for your age group, so be proud of that. But not too proud, because that book was only like six pages long. If a George R. R. Martin novel would shut you up for the rest of the day, I’d go get you one at the newsstand, and then everybody else in this cramped departure lounge who’s been pointedly ignoring your shenanigans would give me the Nobel Prize.  

But you’re four. You’d rather be playing a brisk game of ‘Scamper Back And Forth Between The Chairs And Kick Random Luggage And Make Mom Freak Out,’ like you were five minutes ago until your Mom snapped at you to sit still and be quiet. Speaking for everybody waiting to board, we know that’s an unreasonable request, but we think it’s downright adorable that she asked you to.

And I don’t mean to criticize your Mom, either. She’s just as tired of you as I am – hell, probably more, since you sure didn’t crawl out of my nether regions – but she’s got no choice but to try and keep you under control because society expects mothers to manage their toddlers, which is kind of like expecting meteorologists to control hurricanes.

So now you’re flopping around on the seat next to Mom, trying to see how loud and high you can wine before she shushes you. I can see your eyes screwing up, Little Girl. I know you’re whipping up a fresh batch of tears. I know you’re getting ready to kick and scream harder and louder than any child has ever kicked or screamed before.

You’re going to say “Mommmmmmyyyyyyy” one last time and it’s going to start. Or you’ll fall off the chair and it’s going to start. Or Mom is going to tell you to sit still again you’re going to yell, “NO!” and it’s going to start. I know that. You know that. All of us know that.

But listen to me, Little Girl: You need to lock that shit up right fucking now.

I’m 20 years older than you, Little Girl. And I’m going to let you in on a secret: What you’re feeling right now? That sense that the world has done you a disservice by being boring, slightly uncomfortable, and generally unpleasant? That shit never goes away.

I used to have a job where I had to go to a place called the United States Post Office on a regular basis. And every time I went, no matter what time I went, I had to stand in a really long line for an hour or more, because there was only one window open and everyone in front of me wanted to ask the teller a bunch of in-depth questions about how stamps work.
And after about five minutes of standing there, I wanted to do about what you’re doing now. I wanted to scream so loud that everybody’s face caught fire – even my own! I don’t even know why I wanted my own face to catch fire. It didn’t really make sense. That’s how upset I would get.

The good news, Little Girl, is that life is wonderful. But it sucks a lot of the time, too, and you’ve just kind of got to deal with it, and the sooner you realize it, the better off you’ll be. And I’d really appreciate it if you’d realize it like right now, preferably before you go nuclear six inches away from me.

You want to know something else, Little Girl? That wasn’t the only time I wanted to throw a tantrum. I kind of want to throw a tantrum right now, because I’m getting mighty sick of your shit.

All I wanted to do was sit here with my laptop and hash out a soft pitch blog about the stuff I did in 2012, but then you and your frazzled Mom and your moody brothers came over and plonked down right next to me. Out of every seating area at every gate at every airport in America, you guys wound up next to me, and I won’t mince words – I’ve been having a lot of disturbingly vivid fantasies about stuffing the lot of you into a cannon and firing you into the Sun.

But do you know what I did instead, Little Girl? I took all that bitter anger at the unfairness of it all – that I, who truly don’t like children, should wind up next to arguably the most annoying child in God’s creation – and I used it to write something for a blog I maintain that like six people read.

That, Little Girl, is what being a grown up is. You don’t stop wanting to freak out when shit is unfair; you just find productive alternatives to freaking out, and reconcile yourself to the fact that those alternatives will never be half as satisfying as picking up an overstimulated four year old, looking her dead in the eyes, and telling her she can fuck right the hell off.

Truman Capps thinks children are treasures so long as they’re a healthy distance away from him.