A couple of days ago, this picture went viral on Twitter, by some accounts being viewed over a million times.
It is a note, accompanied by a goody bag, which parents of twin infant boys handed out to their fellow passengers on a flight. It reads:
“Hello! We're twin baby boys on our first flight and we're only 14 weeks old! We'll try to be on our best behavior, but we'd like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt. Our mom and dad (AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer) have ear plugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you want to come by to get a pair. We hope you have a great flight!”
At first, I thought it was sort of cute, albeit in a needy sort of way. But the gushing response from multiple quarters got me thinking about it and then I started to get a little irritated.
Here's a typical example of the response this photograph got on Twitter. (Don’t miss the fact that this was retweeted by 2357 people at last count)
Mainstream media was not far behind with their praise for the parents’ gesture. A sampler of the verbal applause:
In case you haven't guessed it yet, I am not a part of this ever-expanding laudatory camp. Why did these parents feel the need to be so apologetic about flying with their kids? I could still have understood it if they had done this in a fine dining restaurant or a movie hall or any other place where other adults are perfectly justified in expecting a kid-free environment. But when it comes to airplanes, babies have as much of a right to be there as the next person and anyone who thinks otherwise can cough up the money to fly business in one of those airlines where children are only allowed in economy.
Many words have been used to describe this gesture. Brilliant. Awesome. Thoughtful. Considerate. Polite. I have my own set of words. Needy. Defensive. Apologetic. And most of all, Unnecessary. I see absolutely unnecessary no need for us to have to apologise for our children doing what normal children will do, in a place where they have every right to be. And we definitely should not feel the need to have to bribe people to ‘placate’ them for having to ‘tolerate’ our kids.
This increasing intolerance of children in public spaces is starting to get pretty bothersome. The idea that we should keep our kids away from these places or feel apologetic or defensive about their presence there is bordering on the ridiculous.
From the responses to this note, it is pretty clear that many people do think that it is an intolerable imposition to have to travel with a young child on the same flight. And that the fact that these parents chose to compensate them for the impeding ordeal is not only admired, but enough people have suggested that more of us should take a leaf from their book.
In my opinion, stuff like this just sets a bad precedent. It plays into their belief that they are being imposed on by us lot. I personally refuse to feel defensive or apologetic about flying with my kids. If having babies on your flight bothers you, bring your own ear plugs and comfort foods.