I originally posted this two years ago, but since the time of the season has come back around and many of you didn't read the Huffpo back then, I thought I would repost:
You know the feeling. You are about to get on a plane just before, or just at the end of, a long Holiday weekend. Like the Thanksgiving holiday weekend coming up.
You see five or six baby strollers in the line. "Uh-Oh," you say to yourself. Looks like four hours stuck in a flying day care center.
As someone whose family is a long flight from my home, I've often grumbled about crying babies, loud kids, and the like. The roar of a jet engine, or even the patter from an inane, inflight movie are more tolerable audio sensations than "WAAAWAH" or DAAADEEE" at about 654db.
But then it is my better angels that shift into gear. To that end, I remind myself that:
No, or at least vanishingly few, parents want their little ones to act up on the flight. In so many cases, the Mom is harried, tired, and is trying so hard with everything she knows how to do to calm her offspring down and stop the stares.
Little ones have tender ears, and when planes ascend and descend, it isn't fun for so many of them.
Little ones -- and I must add some bigger ones too -- are not formatted to sit still for four hours.
When I know my flight is going to be turbulent, I order a second Merlot. Then, when the shaking starts, I do the math -- in that one second of shake, the aircraft has moved forward 700 feet, but up and down only a foot. Plus wazzit -- seven million commercial jet flights a year with no tragedies? That type of libation and "do the math" reasoning is simply not available to your 14-month-old. Or six-year-old, for that matter. Plane shakes, they freak. They freak, they cry.
In so many cases, especially with infants, the purpose of the trip is for Mommy and Daddy to introduce their newborn to their own parents. This is a joyous time, one that I -- who was so close to my own grandparents -- would not deny new parents just because their baby's crying makes some people uncomfortable. If seeing their new grandson for the first time warms a grandparent's heart, I am evolved enough on the scale of tolerance to take the crying in my ear.
It's natural to think, OK, so why don't the grandparents come and visit them? Demographic patterns being what they are in the U.S., older folks tend to retire to warmer weather climates. If you live in Wilmette, Illinois and your parents or other family members live in, say, Scottsdale, Arizona, would you be so cruel as to ask Mom or even your own grandma -- with her arthritic hip, to hop on a plane from Pheonix to O'Hare? In -2 F windchill?
Of course you wouldn't. Which is why you have brought your brood along.
Although I have no children of my own, I know that little kids cannot be told to shut up at the flick of a switch. They are human, but like the rest of us, are in a tube at 35,000 square feet for several hours. They are out of their habitat, and their parents are so-o-o hoping they will sleep through the flight or be quiet.
There are always "spoiled brat" exceptions, but I am not a social worker. I am a flier, but most important, another human being who understands. So let's be tolerant, people.