Apparently blog ideas come in pairs, or in threes, or perhaps in waves, but the flight to Orlando that inspired last week’s post also included a baby. Babies are great. I love babies and I love seeing people with babies and I really love seeing babies having fun. The woman across the aisle from me on that flight was holding a little girl, and she was playing with the stuff in the seat pocket. You know, the safety card we are supposed to follow as the flight attendant points out the exit doors, the Sky Mall magazine and the puke bag. Anyway, this little girl was taking them out and dropping them in the aisle. I was picking them up and the mother was apologizing. I did my best to put the mother at ease, which probably had the effect of encouraging the child.
It’s OK. Babies don’t know any better, and this wasn’t a “teachable moment” (I need to tell Faith Antion to add that to her list of banned phrases).
This was a baby exploring a new part of her world, and the distracting aspect of her exploration was really our fault – the adults in her world. If we weren’t so obsessed with cheap airfare, the airlines wouldn’t have crammed so many seats in the plane and the little girl wouldn’t have been able to reach the puke bag. We need to remember to think about the consequences of our actions. (Yes, that a link to the Blues Brothers scene with Aretha Franklin), but this isn’t a post about that.
Each piece dropped onto the floor was accompanied by a giggle, a laugh or a little scream. The noise was bothering the guy next to me, but he was the guy who wouldn’t switch seats, so he deserved to be unhappy. Other than him, the laughter was infectious. I was laughing, the mother started laughing, and the flight attendant was laughing. Before the plane took off, the little girl was tossing the stuff farther and farther away and people in the rows ahead of and behind us were picking it up and laughing. All in all, the situation was handled very well.
The best handling of a baby situation ever happened when our daughter was still an infant. We were taking her to church with us, but we always had to work to get to the pew. The entrance to the church was flanked with well-intentioned albeit over-zealous women who wanted very much to remove our daughter to the day care center. Our daughter wasn’t in daycare during the week, and we weren’t interested in Sunday daycare. We wanted our daughter to stay with us; we were funny that way.
On the other hand, we didn’t want to be disruptive. The church had an unused choir loft, and the minister’s wife had placed a rocking chair up there. When our daughter started to cry, my wife would climb the stairs to the loft and deal with Faith (our daughter’s name is Faith, not some ‘deal with faith’ thing).
One Sunday, we had a visiting minister giving the sermon. This was a Methodist Church, and he joked that it was the first time he was preaching in a church where the clock was off to one side. He said most churches had that clock straight in front of the pulpit. My wife may have thought that he was joking, but I knew from my experience growing up that this was going to be a long sermon.
As the minister got rolling, Faith started to fuss and then to cry. My wife got up quickly and headed for the loft.
“Young lady, you sit right back down!”
Keep in mind, my wife had grown up in a Roman Catholic Church. She wasn’t used to the “interactive nature” of Methodist services and she certainly wasn’t used to being singled out. Still, the guy’s voice was thunderous and she sat back down. Of course, Faith was now fully involved in crying.
The minister looked around. He could see the unhappy faces of the women who wanted our daughter in that daycare center. He could see the self-conscious look on our faces, and he couldn’t see the clock.
“Everyone here should be grateful for the sound of a crying child. That sound is the sound of the future of this church. The day that I can’t raise my voice above the level of a crying baby, I will retire from the ministry.”
A couple of years later, the congregation leaders voted to replace the minister in that church. During the transition, the daycare ladies removed the rocking chair and closed off the loft, denying young mothers the benefit that my wife had enjoyed. We changed churches.
Meanwhile, back on the way to Orlando, the baby across the aisle nodded off once we were in the air. The idiot next to me mumbled something about being glad “that” was over, and I attempted my “what is wrong with you?” look. As I recently replied to a blogger friend and excellent writer, I think it’s easier for women to give those looks, but I tried.
Maybe crying babies should remind us to think about what they need. Not their immediate needs, but their future needs. What are we doing for that baby? How are we working to make that child’s life easier, safer or better? For that matter, are we even the least bit concerned about whether that child will have the world and the world full of opportunities that we had?