As Thanksgiving draws near, I’m sure some of you are traveling to be with family. JD and I will be at my brother and sister-in-law’s on Thursday, so there will be no air travel for us. But, if there was, I’d have no problem participating in a pat-down or full body scan. Bring it.
JD and I have traveled together on four flights so far. Round-trip from Newark to LAX and round-trip from Newark to Orlando, Fla. We’ll be on a plane this March, too. Traveling as a single parent is completely doable, but yes, it gets a little tricky at security. Since I check JD’s stroller right before we board, that means I have to get myself, the stroller carrying JD and the carry-on luggage all through security seamlessly. So, while we wait in a huge line to get through security, I entertain JD with snacks, books, a round of “I spy with my little eye”—basically anything to keep him strapped in the stroller. Does he want to get out? Yes. Does he cry and stiffen up his body and try to wiggle from the harness belt? Oh yes. Too bad. Taking him out means that he’s going to run away from me, because every, single time I forego the cart in the grocery store, I end up chasing him down the produce aisle. Once a mound of lemons toppled in his path. It was like a commercial. Yikes!
When we finally make it to security, I need to get the bags on the conveyer belt. I need to remove my jacket and shoes and watch and belt and I need to remove JD’s jacket and shoes and fold up our Bugaboo Bee stroller and get it on the conveyer belt—and make sure JD is still next to me and not running away. Is it a pain? Well, I mean, it’s not an ice cream cone on a lazy Sunday, but we live in a world where extremists fly planes filled with innocent people into buildings. HELLO! I say, search my bags and stroller (look in the compartment underneath the stroller too and all the crevices). Make my three-year-old take off his size 10, adorable Converse sneakers—you might find a stray Cheerio in one—who knows! And yes, PAT ME DOWN and STICK ME IN A FULL BODY SCAN! I don’t care if you see an outline of my 32A breasts or Victoria Secret bra. I will probably have a thong on, but take a good look, I could care less. It’s not invasive to me. It’s safe to me. It’s safe for my son. 4 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel.
And yes, I am OK with my son submitting to these security measures in my complete presence. The TSA maintains a modified pat down would be used for children 12-years-old and under who require extra screening. This is in light of the allegations that a 6-year-old was groped during a pat-down and because of this, parents are now speaking out. Jennifer Pin, mom of twins girls isn’t up for pat-downs: “They keep away from strangers, so someone strange coming up to them and you know doing something that might be inappropriate, they don't know what that is."
My response is, I get it! I'm all for stranger danger and private parts talks, but it’s not like this is happening at the park or out of your sight. I think we, as parents need to be as open as possible with our kids when it comes to hard issues that will inevitably affect them. I have to answer delicate questions from JD all the time about his father and my Pediatrician and various child psychologists I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing due to my work, all agree, to discuss his questions in simple terms. So, I’m sure we as parents could successfully explain a pat-down to our kids. I’d tell JD something like, “This nice lady just needs to check you out real quick, then we’ll go eat Teddy Grahams while we wait to get on the big plane, OK?”
Some of you may feel the same way, but others many disagree with me. Whisperings of boycotts loom as the TSA chief insists this is all necessary. I think it is! Last Christmas Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab stuffed explosives in his underwear and attempted to detonate such while flying on a Northwest airlines flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan and this would have been detected via a full body scan. There are people that are willing to blow up their junk to kill Americans. The threat is real.
I’m curious how you feel about pat-downs and body scans at the airport. Are you OK with your kid participating in these extreme security measures? Are you traveling this week?