Babies do not cry on airplanes for the fun of it either. Nor do they cry, by and large, to let you know that their parents are neglectful or callous. They cry for infant versions of the same reasons that adults snap at one another about reclining seats, or elbow each other with quiet savagery over the armrest. They cry because their ears hurt and theyre being made to stay in a certain position when they dont want to or the air smells strange and the noises are loud, or their stomachs feel upset or the day has been too long and they still arent there yet or theyre just plain cranky. As are we all.
Airplanes, like it or not, are common spaces, at least for those of us who fly commercial. We need to go easy on one another. We do not know the stories of the people jammed up against us. That played out parent who doesnt seem up to coping with that energetic toddler may be on leg three out of five of a tragic transcontinental journey to attend a family members death bed. That parent who dared to sneak a quick nap may have been up three nights straight with a bout of teething, stomach flu or diaper rash. By and large, people do their best, and no, everything was not much more orderly and children were not much better behaved 20 years ago, or 50 years ago. I have been that baby, and I have been the parent of that baby, and I know.
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