Being Mean by Being Nice

Last week I talked about how people with babies on airplanes shouldn’t be looked at as a burden, at least not as much as the people who decide to aggressively recline right as drink service has just passed through. What I failed to mention is that there is a breed of parent that in attempting to act in a preventative manner, are, much like a preemptive war, making it harder on those who come after them. Preventative actions often lead to unforeseen consequences, and trying to be overly apologetic for your crying baby is one of them.

I'd add a link to the original creator of the bags, but it feels like I'd be calling them out.
I’d add a link to the original creator of the bags, but it feels like I’d be calling them out.

You’ve no doubt seen a Facebook post or two about the parent who, before the plane takes off, hands out a bag of goodies to every passenger with a note written from the baby’s perspective apologizing for potential expressions of confusion and discomfort in the form of baby cries (the 4th least cute crying, behind the “leave Britney alone” guy, my mom just died cry, and “that fart was wet” cry. Incidentally, the cutest cry is the tears of an insecure dude who was just told he has a beautiful penis, “Wha–Really!?! Thaaaank yoooouuu!”). This kind of pointless prevention sets a bad precedent, not just for that initial parent, but for all future parental travelers who are looked at by anyone who was granted that generosity or saw it anywhere online.

Same reasoning for not attributing this photo.
Same reasoning for not attributing this photo. Also, apparently the wording is cribbed from the same source? Don’t be plagiarist hacks, parents. 

If you’re preemptively apologizing for your child, when does it end? First day of school you’re pre-writing all potential essays and handing them to the teacher? “This is a math class, why are you handing in essays?” At the kid’s first job are you going to give the boss a fruit basket to apologize for all the time theft spent cruising porn at work? If it were my mom, she would have had to quit her job and go full-time on pre-and-post-apologizing for me. “Hey Ann, want to go see a movie and go to Happy Hour?” “I can’t, I’m baking cookies for when my lil’ gherkin tells the mail lady she’s lazy in comparison to Santa Claus, some brownies for what we will come to know as the ‘biting phase,’ wrapping ribbons around apology candy for the shy kid that’ll cry due to not understanding sarcasm, and creating a recurring Google Calendar alerts for me to get a foot massage preceding every time an offhanded remark my bundle-of-joy makes causes me to question my mortality and life choices.”

There is a breaking point where someone is trying so hard to be courteous that it goes beyond nice and becomes a selfish act of narcissism that inconveniences a group that person doesn’t see. It’s like when you’re in a long line of cars and someone toward the front of the line decides it would be nice to stop at a green light to wave a couple of pedestrians across. Sure, it’s nice for the pedestrians, but now you’ve screwed 40 people to be nice to two. Sometimes being truly nice means apologizing to the people in front of you while being nice by not screwing the greater number of people you can’t see.

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20 Comments

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  1. Before the 90s, babies didn’t cry much on airlines. Were the planes pressurized better? No. Were there more movies for little Johnny to watch? No, seat back TVs weren’t installed until 1995. Were the seats more comfortable? Well, yes, but a baby doesn’t give a shit about that. Were there free tranquilizer shots? You wish.

    Wait…did the parents do their fucking job back then?

    Bingo.

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    • Are you suggesting that parents in the 80s were better at parenting and that no babies on planes cried because parents in the 80s had some cure for babies being disconcerted by air pressure? Why are they and you withholding this magic from us!?!

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      • When my nasty little mouth let out a squeal in a public place, I was immediately told to shut up by my parents and if I didn’t, punishment was swift and memorable. I was a massively ADD child before that stuff became vogue but I learned early on how to behave like a respectable human being. However, this parenting style required awareness of one’s child, awareness of other people, and an inner moral compass that leaned heavily towards courtesy and conscientiousness, two things that seem to have fallen out of favor since then.

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        • That was YOUR experience. Your personal experience. And now, through confirmation bias, selectively only recalling the moments of bad parenting you witness and not the myriad of other instances of what you consider good parenting that just slip into the background, you’ve decided people as a collective are somehow worse at parenting, which, on its face is a judgement that is subjective at best. I’d argue that there’s just more people so of course you’re going to witness more bad–what I would call “permissive” parenting because it’s less subjective–which stands out more than the good. And what is “good” parenting? Swift, physical retribution? Teachable moments of empathy and selflessness? The “I turned out fine” explanation is completely out as a measure because whenever I hear someone say that, that person inevitably needs a mountain of therapy they are actively avoiding. Regardless, I thank you, because I was completely out of post ideas and now I have a goodie.

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          • I never said anything about “physical retribution.” You jumped to that conclusion all by yourself. Confirmation bias much?

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          • I didn’t say that you did. There was no “conclusion” that I jumped to, I was opining on subjectivity. Based on the subjective notions being bandied about, I was opining about what constitutes “good” parenting. Accusatory rhetoric to avoid a larger point much? Context much? Defensive much (that one’s aimed at me)?

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          • You’re like a wasp in a jar: Fun to shake but boring after sixty seconds.

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          • I was wondering when the ad hominem attacks would come. Lack of substance or a cohesive argument or capability of nuanced thought and when challenged on the blatant absurdity of your nonsensical positions, you turn to acting like every petulant, entitled internet commenter, unwilling to admit when you’re wrong, thus proving yourself to be the result of the parental mistake you originally railed against.
            You call me the boring one, but all you wanted to do was spout some half-baked opinion you’ve been clinging to without really questioning it, and that’s crushingly dull and unimaginative. Don’t seek out someone else’s work, leave a contrary opinion that you’re unwilling or unable to defend then call that very thing you sought out boring. That’s rude. Another example of your parents’ failings. Don’t come to my site and tell me I’m boring after telling me what great parents you had.

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          • Shake, shake, shake…shake, shake, shake…shake your booty!

            Music to shake the wasp jar to:

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          • What a bizarre, simplistic and sadistic metaphor to cling to. Another symptom of a poor upbringing.

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          • I’m a big dopey dumb head. Fart fart fart. I eat poop.

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  2. abeerfortheshower June 6, 2016 — 1:55 pm

    I still maintain that bringing preemptive gift bags full of chocolate smiley faces was the right thing to do when I showed up belligerently drunk and pantsless to my great aunt’s funeral.

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  3. I didn’t apologize for my crying baby (merely lied a little that one time), but I wish I could get on a plane and receive a package of goodies from parents. I wouldn’t care that the baby cried. I simply enjoy being given something to eat on a plane or pretty much anywhere else. If it weren’t illegal to light up on the damn plane, I’d much rather receive something else in my “baby apology baggie.” What a mellow flight it would be, but then we’d all knock down the flight attendants in the quest for snacks. A hot box plane seems a brilliant idea to me.

    Love,
    Janie

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  4. I completely agree. Plus, it’s great if you’re the type of mom who has time to make goodie bags for strangers, but don’t put that on all moms now!

    You don’t need to make any grand apology gestures for having a baby, or breastfeeding, or your baby doing baby things (crying, pooing, spitting up). I guess if your baby is wailing on a plane and you want to say sorry to the people around you to make things less uncomfortable for you, that’s fine. No presents though.

    But when your kid gets older, things change. If your toddler runs up and kicks me in the shins though, apologize for that little asshole. There’s a line between “annoying behavior that’s natural and can’t be helped” (ex. crying) and straight up bad behavior.

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  5. If there were drugs instead of candy, I’d be so freaking happy. Screaming child? What screaming child? I don’t hear a thing. But the stewardess should know there’s a dragon in the bathroom.

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  6. As the high and might Pooh-Bah says in The Mikado: “I accept refreshment at any hands, however lowly.” Bring on yer bribes and swag, everyone! I’ll overlook anything for the right goodies!

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  7. The first time I heard about it I though it was kind of cool. But the more I thought about it the more it bothered me too. People have babies. People have to travel. People should not be terrified that their babies might make noise when they travel. This would not be a problem if other people were not so judgmental. Put in your earbuds and chill out. That’s me not being judgmental about judgmental people.

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  8. I enjoy tour take on this…never thought of the pitfalls of a preemptive apology before 🙂 I like your blogging style. Especially the subtle humor! Maybe they should give out them little bottles of rum instead??

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