To those who get irritated by children on your travels.
I get irritated by you more.
Well not all, just the ones who are vocalize their annoyance at children in a rude and condescending way. (N.B: I’m talking about children who are probably under 6, because after that age they should no how to behave and fair enough you can get irritated by them if they are menaces.)
I often see and hear comments like:
Children on planes should be banned. They shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants. They are all ruining our peace and quiet. Stay at home with them or give them to your parents to mind when you travel.
I get it. I really really do.
My children have completely destroyed my peace and quiet since the day they were born.
I know how tough it is.
But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to tear your eyes out when I hear your comments. I sympathize, but at the same time I think how could you?
How could you be so mean? They are children.
You know there was a time in my life when I wasn’t a mother – feels like another life ago, even though it was only five years.
In my former life as a non-parent I’d experienced at least a hundred flights and ten solid years of international travel, and I don’t ever remember being that disturbed by children.
That is not to say they weren’t crying and screaming and being gigantic pains in the arse, like they can be, it’s just I chose never to hold it against them.
And now that I am a mother, I am so protective of ALL children.
One of your biggest worries as a parent is how your children will go nuts in public and disturb the peace of others.
They can’t help it. They can’t control themselves. They are babies.
The panic sets in your heart and makes anxiety an unwelcome friend. Do I keep them at home and stop living just so they don’t cry and disturb those around me?
I’ve been lucky with my children; they choose to go rank more in private spaces than public ones, so I know when people complain it is usually not about my child, but I sure as hell take it personally.
Because when you become a mother, that all-encompassing love extends to all babies. Suddenly you become a mother to everyone.
A child walks past and you cup their chin in your hands, and stare into their eyes with honour as you speak.
Look at you precious. I will protect you little angel.
Because that is what they are. They are pure and innocent and precious. And yes they cry because they don’t know any other way to communicate.
If I was exploring the world for the first time, I’d cry at many of the adults that I came into contact with too.
So when people speak about little children like vermin who inconvenience their lives I feel anger like never before rise from within me.
How dare you? Do you not understand you are in the presence of angels?
When my Kalyra was born I was suddenly transported into this world where I knew nothing and she knew everything. She was my teacher and spirit guide. I have honoured children as such ever since.
Raising children is so bloody hard; they wear me down and break my spirit, but that honour and love I have for them defies all tiredness.
For those who choose to complain about your few hours of disturbed peace, I ask you not to look upon the children with scorn. They are babies. You are only viewing them from the point of view as to how they affect your life.
They’re so much more than that.
Craig and I were terrified Savannah was going to scream the whole way home on our flight from Bangkok to Sydney like she had the previous two nights. We almost cancelled our flight we were so worried.
Most of the angst parents go through is worrying how our baby’s hurts affects others.
That screaming baby you hear is often not screaming because her parents couldn’t be bothered to control her; it is most likely because her parent doesn’t know what else to do.
They have become numb.
I call it the shutting down to protect.
You’ve tried everything, yet still they cry. They cry for hours. You don’t know what else to do. They can’t speak; they can’t tell you where it hurts or how to help. You guess for hours and you feel such a failure.
Look how upset my child is and I don’t know what to do.
You cry silently. You cry from fatigue, from angst, from confusion and utter pain that you, the mother, can’t help your baby.
And then you go numb. It’s a coping mechanism.
As for parents who just sit there and watch their kids run wild and behave unacceptably whilst disturbing the peace, that’s a different story. At least make an effort to control your children and show courtesy to others. (This post is not really written with these cases in mind, you can get as angry as you like with the adults here- fair play!)
If another child aggressively pushes in front of my girls in the line up at the playground, and the parent just watches and says nothing, my blood pressure rises! But I don’t abuse the child and look at them like dirt beneath my feet.
I believe most parents are doing their best and are considerate of others.
I think back to a flight 4 years ago when we were living in the states. We had an early morning flight with Delta departing Raleigh, North Carolina. Kalyra was about 12 months old then, the plane was packed, it was still dark outside, and it was silent.
Then it happened – Kalyra just started screaming and crying as the plane started to taxi away from the gate. She didn’t want to wear the child seat belt and sit on mummy’s lap, she wanted her own seat. Craig and I did our best to calm her, but sometimes you are helpless. If we could have got up and removed her from the situation (which we do in restaurants), we would have.
I remember not wanting to lock eyes with the other passengers, and could feel their glare burning through us. Those moments are tough. Luckily she calmed down once the plane accelerated for take off and was good for most of the flight, except when landing as it hurts their ears.
You know how upset you get after five minutes of listening to a baby cry. Imagine a mother who has listened to it for 48 hours. Imagine if the mother could not go numb to protect.
I know, it’s not your problem and it’s still bad for you and the vitriol spills out of your mouth as to why they should not be inflicting that upon others. I so get it. You can’t predict and often you can’t control, but it does not mean mother and child should stop living.
When you have done all you can and you can’t help, you detach yourself from the screaming.
You can hear it, but it does not infiltrate your core, if it did it would send you crazy.
And no baby needs a mother who goes crazy.
Aren’t you glad you had a mother who did not go crazy with your endless cries? That is right, you did it once and you pissed off a lot of people. Maybe it’s just karma. I often think that with my two challenging children who hate sleep. I was exactly the same to my mother.
I cried for months on end. My mother calls me her difficult one, yet the love she has for her baby never leaves her eyes.
That is a powerful love. It says,
“Cry and scream for days on end, make me feel like I am going insane and will literally pull my hair out as it feels more enjoyable, but I will still love you; I’d still walk over hot coals for you.”
So when there is nothing else you can do you go numb and you hold your baby, because you know that is all they need. Whatever their unsolvable struggle may be, they know if you hold them, they will feel safe and loved. They will get over the screams and the pain with little damage if they are held.
I remember a childless friend speaking of dinner dates with their friends.
“With the first child, they were worried about every noise. They were up dealing with it but now, with the second, the two brothers could be wrestling in the corner and they don’t notice.”
It’s the numbing.
I was numbing as we sat in Starbucks waiting for our flight home from Bangkok.
We had two nights of Savannah screaming, we didn’t know what was wrong, but I’m sure it was her teeth. There was nothing else I could do.
All I wanted was coffee to help me.
I sat down and went numb.
I held her.
I couldn’t really hear her, but I was holding her with love.
The two English ladies behind me started scowling and moved place. They looked at me and their eyes spoke viper.
They made it plainly clear how much my crying child had inconvenienced them.
I get it, I really do, but you are being hateful towards a child.
And you are women.
And I am a mother who has just turned numb for five minutes.
I got up and moved outside.
They mumbled something to each other and pointed to me, the scowl permanently imprinting their face. (Hope the wind doesn’t change as your face will stay that way. Sorry your soul already spoke, it is that way.)
I exploded with the words “Bitches” to Craig upon return. Very harsh I know. I was not proud. I rarely speak about other people like this, but I hadn’t slept for two days and, as I said at the beginning of this, they failed to honour children at their sake of their own five minutes of peace.
So what. Get over it.
You’ll move on in five minutes to peace. So what. You had five minutes you had to listen to a baby cry, and it ruined your Starbucks moment. Hate to have a real problem to moan about. Put it into perspective.
You moan about the baby crying on the plane, in the restaurant, on the street and how it affects YOU. What about the baby? What about the mother who can never move to a quieter place?
Not your problem I know, which is in itself a major problem of Western society.
What I love so much about travelling in Asia is how much they honour children and how they embrace the concept of the village raises the child. We never received any angst from an Asian person about our children, nor did I notice it with any other. Even when my girls had a meltdown in the most important temple in Thailand, their spirits were still honoured and the concern was for them.
On the flight home Savannah thankfully slept. Miraculously there were no screams or tears.
But every other child on the flight was crying.
“Thank god it is not mine.” I thought
I didn’t sleep much because of the cries, but I did not care. I felt for the parents and the distress of the baby. If Savannah wasn’t sleeping peacefully across my lap, I would have got up and asked the parents
How can I help? Please let me give you a break.
Just like the Asians do. The village raises a child.
I sent those babies a whole lot of love and hugs and then shut down so the screams couldn’t infiltrate me and send me crazy.
That is all you need to do.
And in the process of shutting down, remember that you were once a baby too.