It’s totally normal to feel nervous about traveling with a baby. You and your little scream factory can come sit by me. I don’t mind at all.
It’s holiday travel season, and you know what that means. No sooner will you take your seat on an airplane, aka the big, smelly bus of the skies, than you will hear the telltale whimper of a big, annoying baby as he winds up for a big, long, brain-grating tantrum.
Also, there might be an infant crying somewhere.
The aforementioned tantrum, on the other hand, will almost certainly be from a full-grown adult as they suck their teeth, roll their eyes and settle in for what will ultimately be an hours-long campaign to be the absolute worst. Their main gripe? That crying baby. That jerk baby with its jerky inability to pop its little jerk ears. Maybe even your baby.
I remember being a new mom on a plane with an infant by myself. Besides my deep, burning desire to not be hefting an infant through a crowded airport with no hope of gobbling some check-out meds or slurping down some much needed wooze juice, I was terrified mainly of one thing. I was afraid that my child, and by extension, I, would annoy someone. And annoy someone I did. My 3-month-old was having none of this bull****, obviously. As soon as we hit the point of no return she started winding up, and nothing, not my amazing, lustrous boobs, not her favorite lovey, not even Mr. Waddles, her rattling duck, would soothe her.
She sobbed until she hiccuped, and the whole time, a grumpy man in the seat behind me threw a big, ugly tantrum along with her. First came the huge sighs. Then the loud throat clearing. The calling of the flight attendant to loudly procure some (goddamn) ear plugs. The eventual forward lurch and stiff shoulder tap, followed by an angry request for me to something, anything, to shut my dumb baby up.
I am a nervous sweater, and just as I was starting to work up a healthy moisture, the elderly woman next to me, whom I had assumed was sleeping, popped up, whipped her perfectly coiffed head around and asked the man to kindly “shut the hell up, before [she] gave [him] something to really cry about.” Afterwards she turned to me, patted my arm kindly and told me to ignore the large child sitting behind me, as my own was beautiful, and if it weren’t for the excellent narcotics she’d been prescribed, she’d cry too. No one likes to be on a plane. We can’t blame babies for being honest about it.
That. Changed. My. Life.
My daughter grew out of freaking out on planes and graduated to barfing upon touchdown before making the leap to Indifferenceville, where she lives now when it comes to air travel.
As for me, I hope to be seated next to screaming infants. Or non-screaming ones. What I want is to sit next to their petrified mothers and fathers and give them reassuring looks and tell them how great their kids are and dare other passengers to be total jerks. If it didn’t come across as über-creepy, I would offer to hold your kid while you went to the bathroom all by yourself. I want you to know that of all the people who hate you just for daring to travel with your whole family, I’m not one of them. I get it. Someone did this for me, and it made a world of difference.
Holiday travel is stressful enough. Yes, the ear-piercing scream of a baby who’s really just saying what we’re all thinking can be irritating. But more irritating is watching an adult with complete emotional regulation capability melt down. This season, let’s mock them together.