As time went on I started seeing more and more of these notes popping up on the Internet. Last week, my friend and blogger Derek received one of these pre-apology packages on a flight that he took (check it out on his Instagram here). I finally realized why these bug me so much. I am not of the opinion that parents should have to apologize for bringing their kids places, including on planes. Newsflash: People are actually allowed to travel with their families, and even their (gasp!) babies. Sometimes parents and babies even need to use planes. The last time I checked leaving your baby home alone isn't good for the kid, and you might just end up in jail as well. The alternative is taking the baby on the flight with you. Although for some parents this might seem worse than jail.
I know, sometimes babies cry, poop, make loud noises, or throw food at you. So do other people who travel by plane, so get over it. Invest in some earplugs or a good pair of headphones. Maybe you have never traveled with your own kids before. It is similar to trying to corral a spider monkey who has just mainlined three cups of espresso. Sounds fun, right? I have three children of my own and not once have I thought, “Hey, maybe I should drop everything, write a pre-apology note, and put together a gift bag for people on my flight.” My wife and I are usually too busy stressing out about packing for five people, dividing up carry-on responsibilities, and getting through security without losing track of a kid.
However, if this practice of pre-apology packets must continue, then there are some other passengers that I want presents from long before I expect a parent to hand me a gift bag.
I want an apology package from the lady who fully reclines her seat directly into my kneecaps for the entire flight. How about a little something from the guy who goes comatose next to me the moment the plane leaves the ground? It takes a contortionist just to slip by him to use the bathroom. While we're at it, how about a present from the foul-smelling passenger? You know, the person who either takes a bath in perfume or carries on the meal that you can smell from the front of the plane. Whatever the source of their odor, they are oblivious to the other passengers passing out around them.
Maybe what I’m suggesting is a bit ridiculous, but so is having to pre-apologize for bringing my baby on a plane. So let’s just stop with the apology notes and gift bags from parents, and also the judging looks from other passengers. The next time a baby is crying remember that maybe your habits are just as annoying to the person next to you as that baby is to you. Perhaps you might even go the extra mile and offer some encouragement to the weary parent. They are probably just wondering how they will survive the flight. Give a friendly smile, or even some kind words.
The truth of the matter is my baby has just as much right to be on a plane as any adult. When we are flying, I do my best to keep the chaos to a minimum, but chances are I'm more bothered by my child’s crying than the guy across the row from me. If you want a noise free flight maybe you should pony up the money to rent your own private plane.
If my baby does lose it I will put all my energy, and whatever time is left in the flight, to calming him down and making sure it doesn't happen again. All most parents ask for is a little understanding and an extra measure of patience from others. I know many passengers are more than willing to offer this. This bit of kindness can do wonders to renew an exhausted parent who is in the middle of their stressful family "adventure."
So the next time I'm flying I plan to cut other parents some slack, and I want to see the same from you. However, if you are one of those other passengers I mentioned I expect my pre-apology packet as soon as I see you board.