I hereby take back every single word I ever said about cranky ‘n’ restless baby/kids in public places like restaurants, flights, buses, trains, movie theaters etc and their ‘headless chicken’ like parents.
What brought this change of heart? Read along.
A few weeks back I took a Singapore-bound flight with my 4-month boy. Even though the flight would be considered a short-haul flight comprising of about 5 hours, those were the longest 5 hours of my adult life.
It began well. Being an early morning flight, me and spouse managed to get a semi-asleep baby to airport, and get him through the immigrations, security check too. In fact, seeing that we had an infant we were allowed to take shorter Business Class queues at every check point. We even got a bassinet for the baby (on request) and front seat that have far better leg room than any other Economy class seats. So far so good.
By this time, around 8 am, my lil champ was wide awake. Afterall, according to his daily routine it was time for a bath and get ready to play. To my relief, there were atleast 3 other parents with babies on the same flight and were looking as anxious as I was. As the plane took off, I tried to bottle feed the baby so that his ears wouldn’t pop — the sucking movement prevents ears from popping, as per my doctor. For about the first 30-40 minutes I thought my baby is doing this really well. He seemed fascinated by all that light in cabin and scenes from window. And then the bubble burst.
He started his low whiny sounds — he makes that when he needs to be entertained — and this eventually grows in to a louder wail or shriek if toys or adults don’t start playing with him. Now, I tried to make some baby noises he likes to hear, show him the iPad apps that he adores and his daddy tried to coo him too, but that didn’t make things any better. And there’s only so much baby talk and noise you can make in public place or on a morning flight. So, out came the next feed bottle because my super active baby is quiet only when he is asleep.
Meanwhile, parents of a baby in next row were having a better time in tucking the baby in to the bassinet. I looked longingly at their situation, hoped and silently prayed that my champ would also nap for about an hour or more. My prayers were answered and I managed to put my baby to sleep too. Mission accomplished. Me and spouse looked at each other over our breakfasts that were now served and smiled in unison.
The next 1.5 hour we spent fretting over if we could be lucky ones and have our baby sleep a little longer. But when champ woke up this time, he wanted to PLAY. The shrieks that followed and the ‘headless chicken’ like expressions me and spouse had on our faces was akin to other parents in the flight who were no better than us. Our little one was in no mood to sit still, so we had our hands full the entire flight. To top this, imagine 3 bawling babies on a morning flight! Thus, we got our share of stares, growls and snarls from other adults.
All I can say, Thank God the flight time was 5 hours. Any longer would have been nerve wrecking for me.
Funnily, I wasn’t so afraid that I won’t be able to handle my baby but due to having seen the “eye daggers of hate” which other travelers tend to throw at parents and their offsprings, what bothered me the most was that I would be on the receiving end this time. Even though we did not interact with other parents on-board, I know that they sympathized with me. For the other fellow travelers, whom I won’t ever see again, damn their hostility!