As we know, John and Elly love to come up with stupid excuses about why it is that they cannot take their children on vacations in the sun while ignoring the very real issue of the children having to attend school while Mommy and Daddy have a fun time where it’s warm. Most of the stupid excuses rotate around the fact that traveling with children leads inevitably to John and Elly being publicly humiliated. We’re soon coming up to yet another example of this tendency. Since it is so typical, it can be thought of as an example of what I call the Patterson Family Trip Cycle. This pattern of theirs is an otherwise-preventable catastrophe that cannot be avoided due to defects in John and Elly’s personality. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll demonstrate what I mean by telling you which flaws come into play at each stage:
- Failure to anticipate the needs of children: We first start with the John being talked into buying the children gaudily coloured plastic space guns at the duty-free shop. The reason he gave Elly was that he needed them to keep them quiet. The reason that he needed to keep the kids quiet was that he was too stupid to allow them to take a toy with them to distract them from the boredom of having to sit for hours on end in an airport terminal. This seems to be not only due to a failure of the imagination on John and Elly’s part but, as I have said in the past, to a fear that by allowing the children to have a toy with them, they’ve become their children’s slaves.
- Failure to allow for complications: You would have thought that if he had to buy a toy, John would have gotten the kids planes so they could play Top Gun or something. He didn’t because of his foolish assumption that everything will go exactly right. This, just as with the cabin and the train, comes back to haunt him.
- Failure to anticipate how they look to others: This is because during the baggage loading process, they’re held up by a security guard who makes a lot of public noise about how Mike and Lizzie are clearly trying to hijack the plane with their toy guns. When the guy’s boss tells him that he’s being an idiot, the guard talks about how shifty and untrustworthy John and Elly look. This tells me that if John and Elly didn’t look like they were trying to get away with something all the time, the man would have been all smiles as he told the kids to put the guns away; instead, he thought that he was dealing with a pair of idiots trying to smuggle something or other because they looked guilty.
- Inflated sense of humiliation: Since the Pattersons’ tendency to be hateful wiseasses is a defense mechanism meant to protect them from a world of people who want to laugh at them, they come away with the stupid delusion that everyone in the terminal is going to laugh and laugh at the non-event of two dumb people who got jammed up by a jobsworth at Gate 5. The idea that by dinnertime, the people who bore witness to their standing there looking mortified probably forgot all about them is not something that would appeal to them.
- Blaming the children: The moral lesson John and Elly come away with from all of this is that their eeeeeeeevil children planned this to make Mommy and Daddy look foolish and lose money and be humiliated. This is owing to John and Elly being unable to admit to that anyone who isn’t them can make a good-faith mistake. When they screw up, they had the best of intentions; when other people drop the ball, it’s to further a master plan to destroy their authority and unleash a world of chaos.
Simply put, the children get cheated out of something nice and lied to because their parents are too stupid to allow for the fact that children are not grinning little dummies who only move and think when a parent wills it, too arrogant to allow for the fact that things will go wrong, too dumb and vain to laugh off their problems and too paranoid to admit that the kids weren’t screwing up on purpose. Eventually, this ends up nearly killing April; however, since adults can make good-faith mistakes, Elly cannot be asked to accept responsibility for being an improvident cretin.