I’ve seen two stories floating around the internet about the general public’s reaction to traveling babies and children. They both break my heart 💔
A 3 year old with some form of behavioural or emotional disorder is filmed whilst screaming during an 8 hour flight. He’s obviously distressed and has sensory overload issues and it’s upsetting for everyone on that plane – including the mum who is probably at her wits end. There are complaints of her “doing nothing” but I’ve totally been there when Elias is inconsolable and beyond reasoning with. And I’m lucky because he doesn’t have Autism or ADHD, so I have it easy when it comes to his public tantrums. I would guarantee that this mum knew that there was *nothing* she could do to make him stop screaming.
The other story is of a woman bitching and moaning about being seated next to a mum and her 8 month old infant (who wasn’t crying or making any noise). She started swearing and ranting at the mum before being kicked off the flight by the flight attendant.
It makes me think about the dirty looks and condemning stares I’ve received from judgey bystanders, shooting me that disapproving “control your crying child” gaze. I put it down to ignorance ie. they don’t have children of their own or they’re empty nesters who have truly forgotten what it’s like to raise children and take them out in public.
But then I think about a 50-something year old couple who watched Elias have a complete fit (very loud and embarrassing) in a restaurant and later consoled me while I bawled my eyes out in distress. Their understanding and compassion meant the world to me in a time where I didn’t need judgement but just kindness. They just smiled and said their kids used to do that but they grew out of it (actually their “baby” who was now beyond 18 was sitting there with them).
Another time when Elias was only a month old and colicky beyond belief, a clothing store manager helped me calm him when she heard him screech in the changing rooms. She could’ve become annoyed and asked me to leave the store, but instead she chose to be compassionate and helpful. She said that Elias was probably having gastric pains and suggested I turn him onto his stomach. He stopped crying immediately. And my heart rate and blood pressure when down a million notches.
There will always be stories of people being awful to other people, especially when it comes to parenting. But remember, there are wonderful human beings too. I’ve come across many of them and I hope that I too can extend the same level of kindness to other mums and dads when they have an inconsolable baby or child in tow.
We all have to deal with broken sleep, defiant and oppositional behaviour, pressure to parent perfectly and 1000 differing opinions on “how to get my child to XYZ” (or not XYZ). Let’s be easy on ourselves, lift the expectation to do everything with 100% precision and be a warm, loving and supportive village to the broader community of parents who could all do with a hug, copious amounts of coffee and an uninterrupted conversation with another adult.
Comment with a ❤️ if you agree!