Written by NADIA ELKHARADLY
I’ll be the first to admit it; I’ve always been an asshole when it came to kids. I’ve never wanted kids, and I’ve never really understood why other people would ever want kids.
In my mind, especially considering my uterus bearing status, babies ruin your body, then your life, taking away sleep, fun, and freedom. As such, I felt entitled to my kid hating tendencies, and unapologetic to my anti-kid asshole ways.
That is, until my friends started having kids. As it turns out, when a person you actually like makes a tiny new person, that tiny person becomes far more tolerable, and I dare say even likeable, compared to the random spawn of a random human.
I never realized how much my outlook on the subject changed until one day, on a flight home from a press trip I was seated in middle seat (cringe) on a sold out flight (more cringe) next to a 10 month old baby (ALL THE CRINGE). But to my surprise, there was no cringe.
The flight was great and the baby was quiet and adorable the whole time. I realized the positive experience I had was due not to the baby, nor to her very amiable mother, but to my own newly adopted and more supportive outlook on children and the parents that raise them.
In my experience, when people (read: me) spy a baby on a plane, there’s a sense of pre-emptive exasperation that occurs, usually before the baby even has a chance to do any of those annoying baby things that make plane travel all the more uncomfortable. That exasperation is palatable to travelling parents, making them uncomfortable before they even make it to their cramped seat.
That inherent discomfort was evident when this young mother took her place next to me. Before a hello had even left my lips, she was apologizing in advance for herself and her baby, a baby that to this point had only blinked her bright blue eyes in my direction. That was when I realized I was at a moral crossroads; I could fall back into my impatient frequent traveller ways, rolling my eyes at this child, whose only crime at this point was being new to this mortal plane OR I could call upon my newfound parental sympathy, offer my assistance and make all of our trips home more relaxed and comfortable. I chose the latter path, and to my surprise, it worked!
For the majority of the flight, I made polite conversation with the new mama, and engaged the little one in the various child entertaining techniques I’d learned spending time with my friends’ children. Shiny objects and Snapchat filters are my secret child bonding weapons, and they worked like a charm.
Little travelling baby spent the 4+ hours on her mom’s lap, chortling away as she showed me how she could fit my entire bracelet in her mouth. She developed a fascination with my silver watch, so I let her grab at it as it sat on my wrist, even if it meant I had to stop typing on my laptop to accommodate her. I also tried to help her mom out wherever I could, pulling napkins out of my purse when the baby spit up, or reaching for an errant lip balm that rolled out of her reach on the airplane floor.
While I knew this young mom was not only quite capable, but probably extremely used to, fending for herself, it wasn’t the little acts of assistance that made the difference, but my approach and attitude to the whole situation. Rather than see this little baby as an aggravation waiting to happen, I viewed her mother in the same way that I view my dear new (rebel) mama friends: as an overtired and overstretched woman, who could use a kind word and a helping hand.
So to my fellow childless chicks and rebel aunties out there, the next time you’re seated next to a baby on a plane, remember that being a mom is the hardest job out there, and that babies don’t come with mute buttons or instruction manuals. Being an asshole won’t do anything to make your flight, or that little family’s flight, any easier, so in the immortal words of Otis Redding, try a little tenderness and see what a difference it can make.
Happy travels Rebels!
Nadia Elkharadly is our fundamental rock n’ roll, badass Rebel Auntie. She is the co-founder and managing editor of Addicted Magazine as well as the Lady Boss behind Handsome International Men. (If you need a Magic Mike night out, holler).