Living in a different country from all of your immediate family can definitely be hard but it does mean that the time we share together is more precious. After my little girl was born, we decided that I would take her to England to introduce her to all the family members that hadn’t been able to come out to Canada. My honey-bun was around 6 months old and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to taking the six hour flight alone, there and back. Besides being a terrible flyer, I had no idea how she was going to react or behave to being cooped up in a flying tin can with me desperately trying to entertain her.
The thought of annoyed strangers glaring at me while she screamed her lungs out seemed to be the main fear which bothered me the days leading up to our journey. Everyone hates to be sat near the crying baby or irritating child that constantly kicks the back of your seat and why, when there is very little we can do about it? Everyone is in the same position, they have a journey to make and some of those people include children. Now, before we start jumping to child etiquette on planes and the rules around disciplining them, I’m more talking about babies and young infants for the moment. I’m sure in a few years I will have many tales regarding tantrums during the mid-flight movie but for now, this is about the judgmental looks you get when a baby is crying because IT’S A BABY!
The flight to England was a breeze, thankfully. I had booked a midnight flight hoping that she would sleep through the whole ordeal, which is exactly what she did. While my honey-bun was snuggled up in her car seat dreaming of milk, I sat next to her gripping the armrest in my usual state of flight terror repeating the same line in my mind, “humans aren’t meant to fly, we shouldn’t be here.” When we finally landed, passenger after passenger walked by and said, “Didn’t she do well.” Everyone beamed happy smiles that their journey wasn’t disturbed by my precious cargo and I felt like Mom of the year. I single handedly carried the car seat, diaper bag, rucksack and suitcase of the plane and loaded up the stroller feeling like a rock star.
However, the flight back was somewhat different. Instead of an evening flight, we travelled back in the middle of the day and my little girl was already frustrated from the car ride to the airport and then the waiting around for the flight. When we were onboard the air hostess was very strict that she had to be secured in her car seat for the entire journey which meant she squirmed and wriggled around in frustration for the best part of 6 hours. If she did manage to nod of for a nap, she was normally awoken ten or fifteen minutes later by an announcement, the drinks cart or turbulence, so there was no restbite for me or the surrounding passengers. At one point I had her on my lap and she gleefully started to remove her socks while a child in the row next to us was having a full on tantrum about headphones. His mom looked at my baby and then said to me, “Your babies feet are going to be cold, you know!”
I was slightly dumbstruck that in the midst of her own child having a meltdown she had time to turn and criticize me as though my honey-bun was going to freeze to death without socks. Thankfully the same boy started to throw-up moments later and I felt slightly vindicated for his mom’s unnecessary rebuke but I didn’t leave the flight with the same sense of victory. None of the passengers congratulated me for my quiet baby this time and if anything I received a few critical looks as people passed by. I also found it baffling that while carrying a car seat, a diaper bag, a rucksack and a suitcase, not one person asked if I needed help but continued to look at me as a disruption. I felt like screaming, “We are all getting there at the same time people!”
Anyway, the next time your on a flight have a little sympathy for the people travelling with children. Yes, it was their choice to procreate but toddlers, tantrums and sock removal are all part of life. And to any parents, particularly moms, try not to judge every other parent around you and just focus on your own – we have enough ‘mom guilt’ to deal with. And if it really bothers you, but a ticket in first class!