Last Friday, Zoe took her very first flight. We flew cross country from Los Angeles to Orlando, to attend the “combined 165th birthday” of Sam and Shirley Newton. We were understandibly worried. We weren’t worried about terrorists or plane crashes or SARS. We weren’t even worried that she’d cry and be a bad traveller. Zoe is such a sweet girl that we felt pretty confident that she’d travel quite well. We, or rather I, was worried that this would be the first time in Zoe’s short life that people would be openly hostile towards her.
What’s this? Hostile toward our little angel? Surely not! To look at her is to love her, after all. Still, I’ve heard it so often – “I can’t believe they allow babies on this flight, they ought to ban them!” “Breeders ought to stay at home until their spawn can control themselves…” “If that grub starts wailing… ” “Great, there’s my trip ruined…” The friendliest people you’ve ever met become baby-antagonistic the minute they board an airplane.
Now, as it happened, our flight had a number of babies and small children on it – a side effect of travelling to Orlando, I would imagine. Zoe – well, Zoe was wonderful. As a matter of fact, the youngest children all seemed to be remarkably quiet and well behaved. There were a couple of rowdy toddlers, sure, and there was one little four year old who seemed remarkably unhappy about travelling. Even the worst of them were far less annoying than the in-flight movie.
At the end of the flight, it was evident that some people still felt abused at having to hear a whiny child. For us, it manifest itself not as a hostile comment, but rather a backhanded thank you. The people sitting across from us made a point of telling us how well behaved Zoe was. That isn’t backhanded in itself, but for two facts – their compliment was a pointed reference at those less well behaved children, and they waited until the plane was on the ground.
For those of you out there who find yourselves dreading your flight the minute you see a baby – take a minute to look at this face. This is a new baby who can very probably tell that you don’t like her, even though she has no idea why. Now consider directing that hostility where it belongs – towards the person responsible for scheduling the Julia Roberts/Sandra Bullock film festival you are about to watch.