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.
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.
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.