Flying with a baby sucks. It sucks for the parent, it sucks for the baby, it sucks for every person on the plane. T and I have made three round trip flights and I am a ball of nerves every time. He’s a pretty easygoing kid, so most of the flights have proved my worrying was in vain. But this last time T had some trouble on the trip home. He was a champ while we waited for the plane, and we got to the gate more than an hour and a half before boarding. So when it was time for takeoff the wait, along with it being nap time, meant he was at the end of his rope. He charmed my seatmates before he started squirming and emitting a loud continuous moan. After being in the air for just under 30 minutes I almost had him asleep by shooshing in his ear and rocking him. At that point the flight attendant was passing with drink service. T was still doing the moan, which I’m sure was grating on everyone’s nerves, mine sure were frayed. The flight attendant didn’t make me feel bad at all for my loud kid; in fact he was clearly trying to be nice by offering T an empty plastic cup. T jumped at the offer and all chances of him sleeping were gone.
The nice flight attendant wasn’t the first to offer some help. Many of the people sitting near us were trying to engage T. And I started to understand some things about traveling parents with whiney kids. There might be a method to the letting-the-kids whine madness. I know in our case once he fell asleep there would have been quiet for the rest of the flight. All of the good folks around me were being kind and they didn’t know he was so close to sleep. They were trying to help me out by cheering my boy up. And when he was up for good with that cup in his hands which made very satisfying noises when he squeezed it they did help me out during the rest of the flight. I should have been more grateful about that.
When we landed I immediately called Z to let him know we were early. While I was trying to talk to him a number of the people sitting near me started peppering me with questions about T. I ended up snapping at Z, which was very unfair. I started fielding the questions with as much grace as I could muster. The poor gentleman next to me was nearly seven feet tall and he was unlucky enough to be in the center seat. His knees were almost up to his chin for the whole flight. But I couldn’t have asked for a better seatmate. He immediately told me he loved kids, and nothing T did would bother him. He was relaxed and friendly for the whole trip. He noticed I was flustered and he asked if people always paid T so much attention. I nodded and he replied that he could tell that was the case.
I thought about it a lot later. It was a strangely baby packed flight. There were 5 strollers at the gate when I picked up ours. The other kids were absolutely adorable; I had chatted with some of the parents before boarding and got to see the cuteness up close. But when I looked around as we were disembarking I noticed the other parents didn’t have eager question asking crowds around them. And I remembered the time he was newborn and a nurse I’d never met at the pediatrician’s office saw him and exclaimed he was the most beautiful baby she’d ever seen, then she left the exam room and grabbed another nurse and brought her in to look at him. Or the doctor I saw on a sick visit who we hadn’t met before, she told me he was so adorable that he made her want to get pregnant again. Or the old lady at the supermarket who started crying when he smiled back at her earlier this fall. Or the several babyless by choice folks we know who have told us they although they can’t stand babies, they can’t help but find T adorable. He’s magnetic. People just love him. And I’m realizing he is objectively beautiful, I don’t just think that because he’s my kid. I’m being very braggy and annoying, aren’t I? This is all very strange for me, particularly because I have such self image issues. And I can’t quite believe that my body produced such a beautiful thing. I’m an average looking gal, and frankly what your kid looks like is dumb luck, it isn’t like I had a lick of control over his physicality.
I think his attraction isn’t just that he’s a fine looking kid. He is also sweet as hell. He gives hugs at the drop of a hat, he’s quick with charming smiles, the bottom line is he is a delight. I’m not trying to say he’s some super special human, or that he is in any way better than other kids. It’s more that I’m trying to accurately wrap my mind around how other people seem to perceive him. It’s an amazing realization, and one I’m glad I made. The important thing is that now that I realize it I can monitor him. I need to make sure he doesn’t take it for granted or learn to rely on it. I don't want him trying to slide through life on good looks and charm. And who the hell knows? Being a beautiful baby doesn’t mean he will be a beautiful kid. I mean, he will forever be beautiful to me, but he might morph into a regularly cute kid. And that would be just fine as well.
See? Can you handle the beauty of newborn T?
He really was pretty damn yummy.
T in the snow yesterday. He kept pointing to his swing until I finally plunked him in it.