Becoming a new parent has given me a different perspective on parents I see out in the wild. It has confirmed some of my frustrations and melted others away. Like many people, when a person got on a plane holding a baby, I suddenly found faith and prayed that the baby was seated far far away, like, maybe the cargo hold. What was I afraid of, the confused and pained wail of a newborn? I know that I’m a little desensitized, but even the childless, what are you worried about? You have earphones on probably, watching a movie or flipping through the insipid magazine, what is the baby really interrupting, your enjoyment of Reese Witherspoon’s latest movie edited in a confusing way?
It’s not like the parent isn’t trying. Look into the parent’s eyes, you can taste the exhaustion. The parent just made it through airport security with a fussy baby, tried to time the feeding properly, having to take off his/her shoes while holding a baby and hoisting bags on a carousel then putting belts back on after security or having a gloved high school drop out fondle their nether regions. The parent isn’t a bad parent because the baby is crying. Babies cry. That’s all they know. And right now, on that airplane, they don’t know how to pop their ears so it feels like their tiny baby brain is about to be squeezed out the top of their soft spot like a container of mustard under a truck tire. That baby is concerned about their baby brain.
What if the baby understood that screaming on an airplane is rude? Imagine a baby, capable of speech gets on the plane before they make the insipid and-for-some-reason-played-for-laughs safety instructions, “Ladies and gentleman, just reading the vibe on this plane, let me say, I understand your concern. And let me address it head on, yes, at some point I will be crying. Will it be when I crap myself? Perhaps. Will it be when air pressure causes me to wonder if my underdeveloped cerebellum will be crushed like that time Mom and I fell asleep together and she rolled over on top of me? Most definitely. Or maybe, if it helps you monsters empathize with me, maybe I’m screaming because of the world you’re leaving to my generation.
“Gravity is a new concept for me, so the mere defiance of that natural law is confusing and terrifying to me. You’re looking at me sideways, but the fact none of you, with your equal lack of understanding of basic physics, not screaming in terror, is weird. Also, I have not learned how to modulate my volume, which is why my expressions of discomfort will be loud and why I am speaking to you now without the aid of the amplification system. I now cede the floor to the flight attendants whose sense of humor is so sad and atrophied that it aspires to dad-joke levels.”
The momentarily screaming baby ought not concern you. It’s the parent of the toddler sitting behind you who doesn’t know or care that the toddler has made a game out of opening and closing the tray while kicking your chair or the kid next to you whose parents allow him/her to order coffee during the most turbulent part of the flight. Or the incalculable hordes of narcissistic adults who will assault your comfort in innumerable ways.
Crying babies don’t actually bother me too much. Young children doing that high pitched scream at the top of their lungs while indoors? I find it hard to function around that.
I do best around cats.
Crying babies on airplanes don’t bother me. I’d much rather have a parent with a baby sitting beside me than someone who reeks of booze, perfume or smoke or who takes up their own seat plus half of mine. All of whom I have encountered over the years, of course.
Yes, focus the disdain where it really belongs – douchey, overly talkative businessmen that think you care about their achievements. Sure, I put my headphones on and looked away, but I’m still super interested in hearing about your quarterly performance. Please continue spouting random numbers. I’m every bit as enthralled as I am impressed.
Babies are horrible, just like the rest of us.
Well done. I’ve proud of you. Babies can’t talk. Duh. They have to communicate with us by fussing or crying or even screaming. They aren’t doing it on purpose to upset people, and I use the term people loosely if they get upset over the sound of a baby. My daughter flew from the West Coast to the East Coast and back several times before she was two years old. On one of those trips, she had diarrhea. We were seated in the front of business class, so we were right behind the curtain that closes off those poor people in first class who have to put up with the rest of us. After we got on the plane, as soon as I caught the eye of the flight attendant who attended to the Elysian Fields in first class, I said, “My baby is sick. I talked to the doctor on the phone. He said we could fly home with her, but we’ll go to our clinic as soon as we land.” We took off. She cried a bit. Then she cried a bit more. Then it got louder. Then she fell asleep for a bit. I heard the attendant in first class tell the people, as he gave them their champagne, salads, and Do you want ground pepper?, “You know that baby that’s been crying? (Yes, of course, we met her last Tuesday in the Virgin Records Megastore in Times Square. She selected nothing but classical music. She’s adorable. We’ll never forget her. [That’s a joke to go with saying You know that baby? as if everyone actually knew her.]) She’s sick and they are going straight to the hospital when we land.” Murmurs of sympathy. Everyone seated around us in business class also knew that the baby was sick but wasn’t going to infect them with anything, oh, yes, it was safe to have her on the plane and get her home to her own doctor. We landed. Everyone wished us well. Sympathy for the baby rather than the devil oozed from their pores. We got off the plane, went home, and I fed her stuff that helps stop diarrhea (mashed bananas work well if the child is old enough to have more than liquid from the boob). She was fine within twenty-four hours. It wasn’t a big enough lie to make me an evil, creepy person who lies about her baby to get special favors. It was just enough of a lie so that people didn’t moan and sigh and bitch and complain because my baby cried. The baby is twenty-nine now. I don’t know if she cries on planes. If she does, it’s not my problem because I’m not there. But stick up for the crying baby. Babies are supposed to cry. And non-stop screaming means something is wrong. Don’t bitch about the crying baby, bitches. I continue to wait for a photo of the baby along with a name. There’s this place in Junebugland called firstname.lastname@example.org where a photo of a baby along with her name could appear, and it will never be revealed to anyone except my alter ego, Janie not Junebug.
Janie who is Junebug
I meant a photo and a name for YOUR baby. I will trade a photo and name of my baby for a photo and name of YOUR baby. You better believe I won’t do anything to lead you to revealing who my baby is because she’s damn strong and would happily beat the shit out of me.
I love babies and ankle bitters under 2 years of age. After that, you can have them.
I’ve been gone too long! What amazing news! Congratulations!! So happy for you. In fact, so happy that I would gladly sit next to you and your crying baby on a plane 🙂
What a post and is somewhat reminiscent of a post I did sometime ago. Actually, screaming babies on planes are something I can endure. It seems it the drunk, obnoxious adults I’ve witnessed on planes. Yep, the dude the naked, kinky conga down the aisle and the lead drunk proceeds to puke over my shirt.
You’re a proud parent with that new perspective. All the best, my friend.