Anyone who has flown with a baby knows how nerve-wracking it can be. Aside from the extra luggage, myriad of baby equipment and intense planning required for the trip, parents are often terrified to face the ire of fellow passengers if their unpredictable infant cries during the flight.
Unlike most public places, planes are totally inescapable once the wailing begins, so parents wind up trapped with hundreds of strangers in a confined space, often for hours on end. Plus, airports are crowded and stressful, and flying can feel strange and uncomfortable to a little one, making a meltdown more likely.
For years, some anxious moms and dads have been adding an extra step to their travel preparations when they plan to fly with their babies: premature apologies in the form of goodie bags, aimed at winning over their fellow passengers and softening the harsh judgment that a crying baby might elicit.
A recent example shared on Facebook has sparked a debate among commenters. Facing a ten-hour flight from South Korea to San Francisco with her four-month-old, a mother made over 200 goodie bags containing candies, earplugs, and a note written from her baby’s perspective.
“I’m a little bit nervous and scary because it’s my first flight in my life, which means that I may cry or make too much noise,” it read. “I will try to go quietly, though I can’t make any promises. Please excuse me,” it continued. “Please use [the goodie bag] when it’s too noisy because of me. Please enjoy your trip.”
That’s right, we’re talking about appeasing grown adults with candy. And yet, some commenters spoke up in support of the mother’s gesture, calling it “amazing”, “sweet” and “beautiful.” One even seemed to backhandedly criticize the very idea of parents flying with their babies, saying “Some people have class — some have a sense of entitlement. Very nice gesture.” Entitled for travelling with your child? Hmmm.
Others took issue with the goodie bag trend, saying that it sends the wrong message—and we can’t help but agree. Parents should not have to apologize for entering public spaces with their babies, and their energy should be put towards their kids, rather than worrying about others’ undue judgment. The burden should fall on members of the public to come prepared with a pair of earplugs—and try to remember that they were once babies, too (and, in some cases, parents of babies!)
“We all know kids are uncontrollable,” one commenter said.
“Being a parent is my #1 job,” another mom wrote. “It’s the WORST FEELING as a Mom to not be able to comfort or calm down my crying child. I would hope people would understand that.”
As for the original poster, he was understanding of the mother’s “touching gesture”, saying he got her anxiety because “when you have kids, expect the unexpected.” Ultimately, there was “not a peep out of the kid.”
And if doing something like this makes a mom or dad feel better, then power to them. We just hope no one comes to expect exhausted, stressed-out parents to add airplane goodie bags to their to-do lists. Ever.