An Open Letter to People on Planes

We cannot check babies as luggage. We cannot check our children at the airport counter and grab a receipt and then go on through security. Neither can we roll their stroller to the gate, put a tag on their ankle and let the burly men carry them under the aircraft.

Therefore, if mothers need to take a trip with their infant or toddler, they have to come with us on the plane. That’s right, every kicking, screaming, pooping one of them.

I took a trip to California (from Virginia) a week ago so my seven-month-old daughter could meet her ninety-seven year old great-grandfather. The meeting between them was beyond important to me because my grandfather has played a big role in my life.

The week leading to the trip, my anxiety was through the roof. What do I pack for the plane? What about liquids? Is powdered formula prohibited? Can I bring a stroller? Does she need a ticket? The list of questions were endless, none of which pertaining to the trip itself but only the plane ride to and from.

I’ve sat next to it all: the sick toddler with wads of buggers up their nose, the crying newborn that has no idea where they are, and even the slightly older child who plays their portable, electronic game way too loud.

The only thing more annoying than these things are the people who make the parent feel like they’re a bother.

I have a very loud baby that loves to scream. Not out of sadness or pain but out of joy. If she’s excited, she screams. If she likes a food she’s eating, she screams. And so on.

There were many exciting things going on during the flight, she screamed out of delight constantly. Even this, the pure sound of joy, drew sour looks from passengers.

Therefore, when she began to fuss from being over tired, the looks, sighs and snarls we received were endless. My baby was the only baby on the plane and now she’s crying. All outraged eyes on us.

Therefore, add this question to my list: what should we do if we need to take a flight with a child? Just not go? Hope my grandfather is still around when she’s old enough to be quiet on an airplane? Stow them above our seats?

Or should we, as mothers, ignore the stares and scoffing?

I choose the latter, because frankly, we have too much to worry about already.

Consequently, the only person I remember from my flight is a young gentleman who picked up her pacifier after she flailed it out of her mouth in a tired frenzy. Among all the mean looks, the way he smiled as he handed me that binky will be the face I remember.

So, be the binky guy.

PLANE