I can’t stand whining. Or screaming. Or yelling. It drives me crazy when my kids do it, and if we are close enough friends, I’ll sometimes get after your kids if they are doing it. I’m not proud of these statements, but I have to be honest. I have been known to roll my eyes if kids are out of control, or if I don’t’ think they are being parented correctly. Man that feels uncomfortable to write, like drinking vinegar. So before I get sick from drinking too much of a liquid that always reminds of dying Easter eggs, let me tell you about an experience we had where we were “those parents.”
We had a new baby. And we were on a plane. I prepared for it with having everything I needed, a little medicine, a pacifier, food, diapers, things to distract baby…we packed the whole house into the carry on that was ballooning out from under the seat in front of us. We were ready.
The flight out was great. There was no crying, no explosive diapers, no smells, just a happy peaceful baby. The flight back was when everything fell apart. We were on the third leg of our flight. The plane was smaller and it was later in the day. We took off. Baby started crying. Baby wouldn’t stop crying. Baby went to my husband, baby came back to me, back to him and then to me, over and over again. We couldn’t get her to stop. Everything we tried didn’t work. I felt so uncomfortable, ready to jump out of the emergency door. I was horrified, truly horrified. I couldn’t stand it when other kids did this, and here was mine, making every other kid look like a well-groomed poodle who sits until called for.
Baby wouldn’t stop. We were stuck in our seats until the captain finally turned off the seat-belt sign. I was sweating and crying from embarrassment. I just knew how mad the people around us were for making their trip less than stellar. I mean, that is how I felt when a kid screamed during my trips.
I stood up with my baby in what felt like a cramped mile-high prison, bouncing her against me, tears in my eyes and…after a few moments looked toward the back of the plane. A man behind me was looking at me and smiling a “I know what you are feeling” smile. I said, “I am so sorry” with tears running down my cheeks. He just continued to smile. No words were exchanged.
That trip was a turning point for me. I’ve been on the flights with a crying baby, with the obnoxious kid who won’t quit pushing on your seat or fighting with their sibling. Not judging others can be hard, but it is still a life-long process for me. That day I was able to see something I couldn’t see before. For me to not just have sympathy, but to have empathy through understanding, I had to experience.
I don’t know your story, and you don’t know mine. Less judging. More living. More forgiving.