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For the past week or so I have seen a story circulating about a family with twin 14 week old boys who were on their first flight. I believe that the story originated off of Reddit, but it has since been picked up by many different news sources. From what I understand the twins were flying to meet grandparents for the first time. Anyone who reads this site has probably either had the experience of flying for the first time with a young child, or has had the privilege of being on a flight when a family with a young child sits down near them on the aircraft. Don’t lie, I have no doubt that 98% of us say a silent prayer when we see a baby boarding that they will keep walking on down the aisle, many rows down the aircraft, passed our seats. Heck, even I had a not-so-pleasant experience flying back from London with crying twin babies sitting directly behind me. Babies sometimes cry, and it isn’t fun for anyone when that happens while flying miles above the earth.
Since we all know that flights with babies can be unpredictable, it is normal for parents of first-time flyers to be a bit nervous. The reality is that most passengers on planes aren’t thrilled by babies being on-board (and some aren’t shy about sharing that sentiment), so it just makes the anxiety that new parents can feel worse. These parents of the 3-month-old twins decided to try and take matters into their own hands by setting the stage for a happy flight from the beginning. It other word’s they tried to “bribe” fellow passengers into being nice. I say the word “bribe” lovingly, but that is essentially what happened.
The parents passed out bags of candy to passengers on the flight with the enclosed note:
“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 diaper changer) have earplugs available if you need them. We are all sitting in 20E and 20F if you would like to come by to get a pair. We hope you have a great flight!”
I’ve been asked many times since this story came out what I think of this idea, and I have mixed thoughts. On the one hand, it is a very nice and thoughtful gesture on the part of the parents. They knew that their twins may cause some disruption for the fellow passengers, so they are doing what they can to try and explain that possibility ahead of time, and offer not only some sugary treats, but also a practical solution of ear plugs. I have no clue, but I assume that this potentially made the parents feel a little less apprehensive about the flight, and possibly made some passengers a little less annoyed about sitting near the twins. I think that anytime someone is thinking of others’ needs while traveling, it is a good thing.
However, should parents of 14-week-old twins really need to take the time out of their day (and the space out of their carry-ons) to bring candy for fellow passengers, and write a note that explains that the babies may cry from time to time on the flight? Do grown adults really need a treat to make them not get huffy and rude about a baby on board? Do grown adults really need an explanation that a baby’s ears may hurt on the plane and this may cause them to cry? I never had twins, but just my one 14-week-old infant was a full time job. Getting ready to fly for the first time with a young baby while preparing goody bags for the rest of the plane sounds like a nightmare.
So while it was a very nice gesture on the part of the parents, and I commend them for being so thoughtful, I by no means think that every flying parent needs to start passing out notes and treats as a peace offering for other passengers. Since we all have limited time and energy, I think that said energy is best served by preparing to keep you child safe, clean (i.e., not stinky), fed, and entertained on the flight. Really that is all most fellow passengers want. They want the parents to step-up and be the parents the whole time on the plane.
That said, I do very much believe in offering something to other passengers if you ask for someone to switch seats with you so your family can sit together, or if your child does something like throws a toy unexpectedly and hits them (yes, all children do things unexpectedly from time to time). I like to offer to buy them a snack or drink on-board as I am either asking very nicely for them to switch seats, or apologizing profusely if C has done something unexpected (which is thankfully rare). I also really love the idea of having some earplugs available to hand out in the event that your kiddo is “losing their “s$#@”. In fact, that suggestion was listed in this post around this time last year.
So while I think that parents should be prepared to meet all of their child’s needs on board, and be mindful of others around them (including being willing to buy drinks or hand out earplugs when things go really poorly), I hope our society hasn’t gotten to the point where we need rewards for tolerating being in the same aircraft as a baby, or two. Being a parent is hard work. Being a good parent is extremely hard work. I can pack enough for my child to keep her entertained on the plane, but please don’t ask me to pack on-board treats for all of the other passengers as well. My “mom purse” is only so big.
The real question is, what do you think? Is this something you would consider doing? Have you ever received something similar on a flight?