Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Flight Fight

Turkey, 2011

So I was reading this piece on Salon, about a family with two toddlers being kicked off a plane when one of their children had a tantrum.

I felt for both the family and the other passengers (nobody wants to sit next to a screamer), but I was also a bit astonished by just how undone so many of the commenters were by the thought of young children on an airplane.

In fact, a solid majority of them seemed to say something to the tune of: 'Infants and toddlers shouldn't be allowed in restaurants, movie theatres, at weddings, on airplanes, or in any confined public space where they might inconvenience other adults.' As one commenter put it, 'When you have kids, you have to be prepared to give up a few things, especially for the first few years. Things like sleep, disposable income, a social life, and travel.'

This seems like a bit of an extreme position. Parenthood sounds difficult enough without adding total social isolation to the mix.

When I see a baby in a bistro or bar, as I did this weekend at the Brooklyn Winery, I feel encouraged. We have plans to take trips with our baby this fall that will require 5-7 hour flights. We will probably take our baby to...gasp...brunch.

Children are a part of our culture, and I think they should be treated as such. You hope that the parents do their best to contain meltdowns, but you, as a bystander, can also choose not to let it get under your skin if they can't, no?

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that having my own child has made me more tolerant of other children's public meltdowns, but....I can't help thinking that what you are talking about is some odd Victorian "children should be seen and not heard" mentality that isn't right. We have politicians advocating more control over reproduction and an astonishing number of people agreeing....and people can't find sympathy for the parent trying to go about his/her life with a baby or toddler? Parents have to sequester themselves in their homes and the local Chuck E Cheese until the kid is 10? Now, I do try to go to restaurants at 5 or 5:30- more in order to get MiniMe to bed on time, but it is a more family-friendly time. And we're not dining at fancy places, either. But I think that isolating children from society makes them less able to behave properly in public. Everyone needs practice. I have felt that embarrassment in the grocery store when she throws a fit- like she's the only child ever to have done that...and I feel the looks and wonder- am I that bad of a parent? And then there are the judgmental looks if a parent props up a smart phone with a youtube video on it to get some peace at dinner....which way do you want it, people???

    So- yes, go to brunch, get on a plane, let the biddies say what they will.


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