Recently, I read an article in a parenting magazine about how to bring your kid to a restaurant. It had all sorts of helpful hints like “leave if your child gets too cranky” or “bring toys or crayons.” And I had to wonder, who doesn’t do these things?! Who brings their kid out to eat without anything to keep the kid occupied and then doesn’t know what to do when the kid gets bored and fussy? My mom and husband make fun of me because my diaper bag was the size of small boat, but I always had something fun for my kid (and me!) to do.
I took my kid on a trans-Atlantic flight too. Four of them actually (flights, not kids). When he was a year old, he slept the whole way, except when my husband passed him over to me so he could take a bathroom break. In those few seconds, he cried a bit until I was able to calm him down. Then he went back to sleep. But also in those few seconds, the man behind me asked his neighbor “have they heard of Benadryl?” Because I should drug another person because he bothered you for less than a minute? I should note that this person was one of the most obnoxious people I have ever flown with. He spoke very loudly through most of the flight and kept on pushing the back of my chair, forcing me to jerk back and forth pretty frequently. The video monitor in front of his seat (on the back of mine seat) wasn’t working. While I sympathized with him, I didn’t think pressing the same buttons over and over again would be helpful. This man was aware of his actions and made a choice. He made several choices. As I said, all through the flight he whined to his neighbors about his monitor or anything else that displeased him and essentially punched me in the head. My kid, however, was not aware of his actions and cried (seriously for under a minute) because it was his only way to tell me he was unhappy. Who’s the more obnoxious one? But who’s the one that people complain about on planes?
My kid is well behaved because I never let him stand in the way of doing something I wanted to do (except I obviously don’t take him to R rated movies or clubbing). Good manners are a skill, and a child won’t get the opportunity to learn them if we always leave them at home. Even from a young age, my husband and I brought him out–to restaurants, to museums, to bookstores, to adult religious services–and he learned how to behave in public and how to keep himself busy if whatever mommy and daddy were doing bored him. So it bothers me when I see people complaining about kids in restaurants or museums. Especially a museum. Shouldn’t we be encouraging children’s exposure to art and learning? Sure, I understand that no one wants to hear a crying baby (though the parents probably are more upset about it than you are) but it’s obnoxious to be so self-centered to pretend that your enjoyment is somehow lessened by the mere presence of somebody else. I agree that crying babies are a distraction, but I’m more annoyed by the metaphorical baby who made the choice to be rude about his objections than the literal baby that is communicating the only way he knows how.