Did you know that Japanese babies "never cry" on planes because Japanese parents "never yell"? That "before the baby boomers," any self-respecting parent wouldn't DREAM of taking their kids with them on a plane? That first and business class should only be for people who are held to a "higher standard" of behavior? That a little Benadryl never hurt anyone? That if you have kids you should live right next door to your parents forever and therefore never need to fly? That there's "nothing fun for kids to do in Paris" anyway?
Sigh. My husband and I are deliberating the Big Question parents everywhere wince to consider — whether or not to take our toddler, almost 2 years old, on a plane — and we made the usual mistake of reading the Internet. And not just any Internet, but the New York Times, where people have been acting reasonable since 1851.
Well, what do you think, Internet? SHOULD WE?!?!
Wait, wait, don't tell me. I think I know the answer, primarily because everyone who has ever been on a plane with a baby has tweeted about it. So if I'm thinking of taking my kid on a plane, here's what I should do:
- Shut up. I have no right to take my child on a plane. Childless people, on the other hand, have a right to a quiet, child-free public space.
- Die. Self-explanatory.
- Don't fly until my child is 5 to 8 years old. Kids "don't need to know about the world until they are 5 or 6" anyway.
- Drive. Sure, it might take three or four days instead of three or four hours, but it's not like I wasn't warned about slower transportation options at my first OB-GYN visit when I found out I was pregnant, right there next to the pamphlet called, "Paris: Fun to Read About, But No Place for a Kid."
- Leave my kid at home. This is in the pamphlet I was also given when I became a parent, called "My Right to Something I Paid For Trumps Your Right to the Same Thing You Paid For, Because I Said So - Harumph!" sponsored by the Childless Cartel. Unlike subways or trains or other public places where transportation occurs with frequent noise and jostling, it reads, a plane ride has been decided by all humans to be something fun, relaxing and quiet for people without kids.
- There are places for our kind, like Chuck E. Cheese. Remember? Hey, maybe Chuck E. Cheese should start an airline. And the plane could be filled with all those plastic bouncy balls and serve pizza and soda and have pinball games and foam darts and stuff. Wait, that actually sounds like fun. Could childless people be allowed to fly on that plane sometimes, just for kicks? Because that's the only way I will agree to the Chuck E. Cheese airline.
- Control my kid at all times. When people of the Internet were children, they always sat quietly on planes and never twitched, wore little child-sized suits and evening gowns to ride on planes and handed out complementary newspapers with a song and tap dance. This was before the Baby Boomers, remember?
- Act sorrier. I need to act really sorry that I'm even on the plane, then also sorry I chose to have a kid, sorrier even that I don't live closer to where I've chosen to go, and sorry that I need to take these little monsters with me. If I would just show more frequently how badly I feel about the fact that I exist at all, and that anyone has to look at me, then I would see that those Internet airline people are not so bad, after all. They do, on days when they are feeling generous, allow for people to have babies, as long as those babies are actually cardboard.
- Bring the right stuff. Get this, one time this lady brought some stuff on the plane for her kid, but it was the WRONG STUFF. It was, like, old stuff that didn't work anymore and she didn't even notice. Jesus, how hard could it be to figure out exactly the right three to five things to shut a baby up? The pamphlet I'm holding right here from the hospital says "Three to Five Things That Will Always Shut Up a Baby on a Plane" and it's all really super obvious stuff anyone could get that works like clockwork every single time.
- Buy you off. Seriously, couldn't I like, give you a Starbucks cards or earplugs or bring a sack of iPads as a gift to everyone three rows out in both directions? That's the only way to "lessen the death glare" or "cut back on the withering comments."
- Pay more. I should pay like, $300 more per ticket to bring a kid. Don't you think? It would only be fair to tax me for interrupting the flight's pleasant harmonious run. Sure, you could extend this surcharge to other annoying things too, like, to anyone taller than average, bigger than average, louder than average, fartier than average, anyone with the tendency to listen to Dave Matthews Band at a high volume, or anyone with a loud cough, nervous tick, pointy elbow or exceptionally large, round head, or a tendency to throw up for nine hours straight. But since people can't help that stuff, it would be discrimination.
But please, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter before you slip on these noise-canceling headphones I bought you, just in case.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She will not be sitting on a flight near you without a Valium. For the baby.
Image via Naira/Shutterstock.