You’re stuck on a long flight with a crying baby or toddler, and a stressed out mom (or dad). It’s so loud. It’s so obnoxious. What can the childless person do to have a better flight?
I’m a mom, so I’m here to plead the case FOR traveling families, while also asking for compassion from the childless stranger. I can also assure you that the mom, dad, and screaming child are having a far worse day than you are. Yes, really.
Imagine, if you will
Imagine yourself in that position. “What?” You’re asking. “Are you crazy?” Imagine loving a little being with every ounce of your heart. You know which things that definitely set them off, but you can’t know all of them. Then, imagine that you have to travel far to visit family. You hop on a plane with your child, who is truly a piece of your heart. They start screaming. You offer up a new toy. No dice. You offer up a tasty (and possibly even healthy) snack. Nope. Another snack. Not even a nibble. Maybe the child is tired, but they won’t sleep. “Is my baby ill?” Mom starts wondering frantically. Then, imagine the looks and meant-to-be-just-loud-enough-hear-nasty-remarks, “Can’t they shut up that baby?”
Are your heartstrings wobbling? No? Okay, then imagine the entire scenario above, except YOU are the child and the stressed out mom is your mother.
Kids are so adaptable. They are also little humans with thoughts and feelings, aches and pains. Maybe flying hurts their ears. Maybe it is the scariest thing they’ve ever experienced. Maybe they are feeding off their mom’s stress, too.
Why do people with kids have to travel?
I hear you ask. Why do people with children travel? It is a monumental and daunting task to take young children on a trip. So why bother?
Traveling to a new destination is an amazing way to open up to new experiences, sights, smells, tastes, and culture. Even tiny babies will have memories imprinted in their brains that affect them later in life. Children grow into adults. I fully believe that well traveled children will become exceptional adults. They will be more understanding, open to new experiences, better at reading people, more confident, and maybe less picky eaters.
I also know what it’s like to feel trapped at home with your very young children. As babies, neither of my children enjoyed car rides. I spent the entire month of January in my home, when my kids were ages 18 months and 6 months. We left the house once. I was barely sleeping, due to having a 6 month old. It was too stressful and exhausting to face a winter outing like that. So when I see a mom out with her very young children, I applaud. I call her a superhero. Before I had kids, I simply didn’t know. I didn’t know the exhaustion, the long nights, the loneliness, or that people would act bothered by the very existence of you and your children.
So Put in your EARPLUGS
Thank that mom for being brave and fierce. Smile at her. Welcome the traveling children, even the screaming babies, for they will become the people who will gently change the world for the better. They will have a deeper understanding of the big world around them. These children will be the peacemakers.
Children and parents deserve and have a right to be out and about, enjoying life. Right now.
Children and their families deserve to be out and about in society, learning, and exploring their world. Please embrace them. At the minimum, have the decency to keep your nasty comments to yourself.
For more information on this perspective, please read Beyond Normalizing Breastfeeding: Normalizing Childhood. It’s a lovely blog post.