Preschooler Thwarts TSA, Film at 11

I really did see this one coming.

I just didn’t expect the TSA to be involved.

That whole “we will not negotiate with terrorist” thing isn’t true.

The TSA totally negotiated with my 3-year old and make no mistake, she’s a terrorist.

Sleepy Girl in a Ford Taurus X

With sleepy eyes and stuffed puppy in her hand, I buckled my darling daughter into her car seat at 5am, hoping the time of day didn’t spell doom for our trip back to Los Angeles from Detroit. We had kissed our family good bye (yes, Nana cried…she always does) and woke before dawn for a 7am plane ride.

I was entirely prepared. I did everything the night before- I even packed the snacks and goodies and toys. There was a spot in the bag for the night’s pj’s and clothes were laid out. I missed nothing and I went to bed feeling organized and accomplished and entirely sure of myself.

Silly Mommy.

My first clue that our trip home was going to go all wrong came when my daughter winced at walking through the airport. She wanted to be carried. But as Mom is trying to get all the luggage to the counter and carry ons and hold hands…the “carry me” thing just wasn’t going to work. Both kids were already whining once we got up to the counter and they had to wait again in the security line.

As we entered the line a very nice TSA agent looked over our boarding passes and asked my son his age.

“I’m 5!”

“And what about you little girl?”

…and the little girl buried her face in my leg, refusing to even look at the man talking to her who smiled and handed me back our tickets.

We made our way several feet to the xray line, and I got the kids de-shoed and un-backpacked and got my laptop ready and felt, again, rather organized and accomplished.

Silly Mommy.

Despite the fact that we have done this dozens of times, my youngest decided things needed to change. The procedure was incomplete and something was amiss.

I noticed that look on her face as I set down a bag on the conveyor belt. You know the kind of look where you can see their lip turn under, but you’re not exactly sure if they will be crying, laughing. or asking to go potty.

“What’s wrong baby?”

“I don’t want to go.”

“Honey we have to go, it’s our turn, come on…”

“No! I don’t want to go. I want to DO IT AGAIN!”

“Do what again honey? We need to move, come on…people are waiting.”

and with that the floodgates opened and every parent’s worst attitude nightmare began.

People moved around us, some with looks of sympathy, others with looks of confusion, and still others with that “please dear god tell me that family is NOT on my plane” look.

There was crying. There was screaming. There was the classic on the floor kicking and arm throwing thing. At one point she even folded her arms and “hmmmph’d” me mid bellow.

I tried the stern Mom thing first.

Then I got threatening.

Then came sweet and nice reasoning.

Then came bribing.

The screaming and crying and flailing continued.

Of course I tried to just manhandle her and carry her through. But she was doing that wiggle thing kids do with the back arch- and pulling out her patented go-to move…yelling for Daddy.

So imagine, if you will, what you might think if you saw a woman trying to carry an unwilling preschooler through airport security while she SCREAMED at the very top of her lungs “I WANT MY DADDY WHERE IS MY DADDY GET ME MY DADDY!”

Yeah, exactly.

That’s about when TSA pulled us aside. Me trying to wrangle the screaming and kicking girl while her brother held both hands over his ears yelling “MOM MAKE HER STOP!”

Of course it’s hard for a TSA agent to question me over custody while a 3-year old screams. A GIRL 3-year old. Because, trust me, it’s a tone and pitch you just don’t get with the boys. I was quickly allowed to attempt, again, to get through the xray.

This time I just carried her. On the other side another very nice TSA agent tried to help me gather our belogings. I’m sure he’s still regretting that move, because just as he got a bag on my shoulder Little Miss Yells-A-Lot swung around and kicked him in the thigh.

Yes, my daughter kicked a TSA agent.

I apologized profusely and then gave my girl a look that finally seemed to scare her to death and she became slightly reasonable. She still huffed and puffed and demanded she put her shoes on herself and then walked slow as a snail, head down and pouting to our gate…where the doors were closed and the plane to Los Angeles was pulling away.

You would think it ends here. But no.

Upon learning we missed our plane my 5-year old broke down in tears. So I had two kids pouting and crying or crying and pouting while I tried to decide if flying standby all day was worth it, or if I should just head back to my aunt’s house.

I went with option b. And after a shuttle bus ride to get a car and car seats and traffic for 2 hours (and a dead bird, which we hit on our way) I collapsed on a couch and decided I was never flying with my children anywhere ever again for the rest of their lives.

Silly Mommy


  1. Bless you for your patience and organization. Yet I believe you “silly mommy” quote is felt by one and all of us parents.

    It seems no matter how prepared, how well behaved our children “normally” are, we have all experienced similar situations.

    PS: Have you enrolled her in any martial arts classes yet?

    Take care,

  2. She looks so innocent in the picture 😉 I bet she tricks you into taking her somewhere again within the next 6 months. You don’t seem like the sort of person who is going to stay in one place. I hope it goes better next time.

  3. You sound like someone that needs a hug. And perhaps a small vacation from your daughter. In lew of that, let me tell you that I have a delightful niece named Kate.

    Kate the Screamer.

    Blessedly enough Kate grew up and those lungs now sing the sweetest notes her parents could ever hear. (she has a beautiful voice & has scholarship in choir) She is still a daddy’s girl & now & then gives her mom lip, but all in all (b/c I’m the aunt) she’s a doll. A beautiful, well balanced good kid.

    See. There’s hope.

    Kate’s mom couldn’t go to the grocery store w/o one of those fits like your daughter threw in the airport. Bless your heart. I hope you get a vacation soon. *hugs*

  4. Just remember hw much you are going to miss her when you fly to Denver ALL BY YOURSELF!

  5. Oh wow! You poor thing! You need a Vacation!

  6. Maybe trying mailing her back, just punch big holes in the box…

    I kid! Sounds like hell. Hopefully the next time will be better.

  7. Queen of Spain says:

    Box. Excellent idea! We actually made it home yesterday and she was an ANGEL the whole damn way. She even told the TSA agent “I’m going to be a good girl and NO CRYING” as we went trough security. Go figure.

  8. In my town this summer a guy stole a car that a woman left running while she ran in the store. Apparently the 3-year-old’s screaming in the back street made the dude pull over a block away and run. They found the car very quickly and thankfully she was physically fine. It’s a powerful weapon, the Scream of the Three.

  9. Missing a plane has always been my worst fear, but after reading this experience, I think my new fear is flying with children. I haven’t taken Dawson on plane yet….not sure how he would handle it!

    I hope you have a better trip home when time comes to go again. In the meantime, have a glass of wine and relax. IF that’s possible I mean.

  10. Oh! Now I see you’re home already! Glad this time was much better. 🙂

  11. Okay, I really thought I was the queen of painful traveling with kids stories (We do the 20 hours in the air to Australia every year) but Sister, YOU WIN THE PRIZE!

    Did you really miss your plane and hit a bird all in the same day?

    My sympathies are with you. That trip sucked. Sorry you had to go through it, but at the very least, it made for an awesome blog post.

    Too bad you didn’t have pictures… 🙂


  12. It’s the littlest one that can throw the biggest wrenches in the proverbial cog sometimes. Meltdowns are NEVER fun to deal with. I feel for you that you had to go through that but am glad that you are back home, safe and sound.


  13. Wow! I didn’t realize that it was so difficult to get on a plane with little ones.

    It was a great story to read though.

    Oh and the Brooklyn in me comes out……..Some of those agents need a kick.

  14. Oh, I feel for you. It’ll make a great story someday, when she reaches the age where she carries her own backpack onto the plane and sits there with her books and puzzles through the entire flight. Just keep gritting your teeth — you’ll get there.

  15. Lordy, that episode was right out of the 3-year old playbook. After an episode like that, a glass of wine just isn’t enough. You might as well hit yourself in the head with the whole bottle.

  16. Ah, the joys of parenting…

  17. (hugs)

  18. Ugh, that gave me chills reading about the whole airport fiasco. I’m never traveling with your children again, either.

  19. un – be – lieve – able !
    Couldn’t get much worse than that.
    Welcome home!

  20. Ooh poor you! I think I would have joined in and cried too having found I’d missed the flight.

  21. I never know how those mothers do it! Manage a couple of kids in tow – kudos to you!

    But KUDOS to your daughter for kicking the TSA agent (ok maybe this guy didn’t deserve it but he took it for those who do!) I could never do it myself when they’ve been downright rude to me so thank you little girl! 🙂

  22. Just be grateful she’s not old enough yet to choose any of these carefully selected, guaranteed to get you pulled aside by security statements:

    “You hate me”
    “You’ve never loved me”
    “You’re trying to KILL ME!”
    “You’re TORTURING ME! You make my life HORRRIBLE! Where is daddy??? I want daddy!!!”
    “I wish you were dead (or I wish my sister were dead, or I wish the uniformed security person were dead)”

    followed 30 seconds after calming down by “Mom, you’re the best mom in the woild.” Yeah.

  23. Oh man. Just reading that makes me feel defeated.

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