Don’t be a [baby] hater

So I’ve been doing my damnedest to catch up on my blog reading, while also preparing for my new job, while also spending time with Hubby and Monkey, while also trying not to get too overwhelmed by something as innocuous as blogging. And what do I find but this lovely post from Allison at Motherhood, WTF, wondering how shocked she should about the following Facebook status update from one of her *friends*:

Note to all you parents out there: if you can’t get your baby to stop crying for more than 30 seconds at a time throughout a 2 1/2 hour flight, maybe you should hold off on flying because people like me hate people like you. On an unrelated note, I think it’s about time for a vasectomy.

I cannot begin to explain how much this post frustrated me. Hubby and I have flown with Monkey four times. Three of those four flights, he was a perfect angel. In fact, he slept peacefully in his car seat nearly the entire flight to Tenure-Track Town (TTT) a few weeks ago, waking only shortly before landing and quietly enjoying a quick snack of Cheerios and Goldfish crackers. Accordingly, we received glowing compliments from flight attendants and neighboring passengers.

A few days later when we flew back home, it all fell apart. Due to an abbreviated afternoon nap, we arrived at the TTT airport with a sleep-deprived baby for an evening flight. Monkey’s exhaustion made it impossible for him to sleep (go figure), resulting in a hyperactive baby instead of the peaceful mini traveler we had grown accustomed to. After a couple of meltdowns (both lasting longer than 30 seconds) when I tried to strap him into his car seat, and a couple more (also longer than 30 seconds) when he refused to sit in mine or Hubby’s lap, we eventually gave in and allowed Monkey to bounce back and forth between his window and Hubby’s aisle seat.

I’d like to say the only victims of Monkey’s hyperactivity were me and Hubby. Unfortunately, Monkey repeatedly bumped the seat of the lady sitting in front of him with his feet, car seat, toys, and books. As much as I tried to convince myself that one annoyed passenger was better than many, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. To make it worse, I got an irritable eye roll in return for every “I’m sorry” I offered. I kept reminding myself that I would have gotten an equally piercing look had I forced Monkey into his car seat and let him cry himself to sleep. After all, “people like that” hate “people like me”.

By the time the wheels hit the ground in Postdoc City, I felt absolutely lousy. Then I read the above post from Allison, and my guilt turned to anger. Hubby and I did everything we could to prepare for a peaceful flight. We lugged a huge load of toys, breast milk, breast pump, formula (just in case), books, binkies, and blankies onto the airplane. We’d never had a bad travel experience with him. We had no choice but to fly with our little guy, and we did everything we could for three hours to keep the maximal number of passengers around us comfortable. Yet we still failed.

I wonder if the above-referenced Facebooker realizes how unpredictable babies are. I wonder if he understands a crying baby’s parents are probably much more anxious and frustrated than anybody else around them. Of course, I’m sure he has no idea, because until you have a baby, you don’t know what it’s like to worry about your baby AND everyone else around you. When the Dr. O family goes out in public, Monkey can be a perfect sleeping angel, playfully entertaining, or a screaming ball of fury. Hubby and I refuse to simply stop living our lives in order to make other people more comfortable, so we try our best to be prepared and keep several plan B’s in our back pocket.

Unfortunately, when it comes to air travel, all the plan B’s in the world may fail, leaving behind only a trace of patience to make it through intact. On that flight back home a few weeks ago, patience is all we had, and I think Hubby and I did a damned good job mustering our reserves together.

So Allison, I say you should be very shocked. Unless like me (I’m somewhat ashamed to say), you have Facebook friends who you haven’t talked to in ages. In which case I would just de-friend this asshole and move on.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t be a [baby] hater

  1. Or post a status: “Note to asshole baby-hater. If you can’t keep your contempt of babies and the people raising them to yourself, maybe you should refrain from posting on sites with lots of parents. I hope you know that people like me would hate people like you, if we had the time to give a shit about your self-centered little world.”

    Honestly. I’m done with caring what people like that think. We try to be considerate parents. We try to teach our kids how to behave respectfully in all situations. When we are able to remove our children if they are not behaving appropriately (for instance, at a restaurant), we do. When we are able to avoid a place where they might not behave well, we do. But airplanes don’t really meet either of those criteria, so sometimes, we all just have to lump it.

    And frankly, in all my years of traveling, the flight I look back on with the most annoyance is the one in which I was sandwiched between two fellow business travelers who knew each and proceeded to have a conversation over me for the full five hour cross-country flight, but refused to change seats with me, despite my repeated offers.

    I don’t even remember the crying babies, although I’m sure there were several. But headphones block them out quite effectively, when they aren’t your own. No headphones in the world can block a jerk leaning across you to make a point at his friend on the other side of you.

  2. Another good reason not to be on facebook.

    Re: kids on planes, as long as the parents are trying I don’t mind. Kid crawling all over me and parent does nothing: annoying.

  3. And it’s this kind of comment that makes parents absolutely freaked out about going in public or…GASP!…on a plane with their children (at least that’s what I felt).

    I took Evan on a plane by myself for the first time when he was about 6 months old and I was so scared of what people were going to be like because I had heard many comments like this. I don’t know if I was lucky, or if those people are a very small (but very vocal) minority, but everyone we sat close to was super understanding.

    I remember, on the second leg of our flight, Evan was crying during the whole boarding process. The guy beside me had been traveling for 45 hours, and yet he was still understanding, telling me stories of flying with his own kids, and was really helpful.

    Most people are like that as long as you’re doing your best and aren’t just letting your kids run around like crazy. I also think people are more understanding of a baby crying than a 5 year old screaming/having a tantrum. Most people know you can’t really control a baby’s mood!

    But, some people are just baby haters, and there’s nothing we can do to make them happy since they just want us to stay home until our children can behave in the way THEY find acceptable. I just keep reminding myself that those types of people are few and far between.

  4. I’d much rather listen to other people’s kids screaming than my own kids screaming. The first is just a mild annoyance that comes with flying, the second stresses me out beyond belief. Of late my kids don’t cry during flights, they just whine and fight with each other, which is even more stressful.

  5. I’ve just read an interesting article that reported some research by scientists at the University of Auckland that can basically be summarised as “the noises that are considered annoying depend on the psycho-emotional state of the listener”. They tested this by making people do math problems while listening to different noises including children whining, babies crying, hammering etc.

    Anyway, I’m choosing to interpret this as – if someone is bothered by your crying child on a plane, it is their problem, not yours. Of course, I’m still bothered by my child crying on a plane – but that’s because I want her to feel better or accept wearing a seatbelt or go the eff to sleep – not because I’m worried somebody across the aisle is giving me the stink eye.

    I think also, the vast majority of people are very tolerant of children on planes. On the 20 or so flights of over 3hrs I’ve done with my 21 month old, I honestly can’t recall anyone saying anything negative or giving us dirty looks. And believe me – she hasn’t been an angel on all of the flights. Instead, random people and flight attendants have smiled, played peekaboo or offered to hold her. One our last long flight, a few people even had the grace to laugh at her when she walked down the aisle saying “sshhh” (which in her toddler speak means she sees people sleeping) after SCREAMING through take-off, until the seat-belt sign was off.

  6. Pingback: Twelve Months of The Tightrope | The Tightrope

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