Well, I am now the lady on the receiving end of those pained expressions. My husband, not-quite-11-month-old daughter and I all went to Boston last week to see my sister-in-law run her second Boston Marathon. I prepared for the worst, figuring I was due some serious karma. I just knew we'd be the ones with the baby who was inconsolable due to ear pressure, or the ones whose baby dumped a huge load in her diaper just as the "fasten seat belts and stay in your seat on pain of death" lights came on.
I'm not going to say our experience was all cupcakes and unicorns, but Lydia did pretty well. And her fellow passengers did even better. People smiled and talked and played peek-a-boo. When we made a pit stop to pick up more passengers in Baltimore en route to Boston without deplaning, a lady who had just boarded and was waiting to find a seat actually thanked us for having a cute baby who made the wait fun. A mom who was on her way to pick up her kids from a week at grandma's got her baby fix by letting Lydia rip the subscription cards out of her magazine. People constantly traded silly faces with her when she was looking over my shoulder.
It helps that I have an incredibly social baby. She could be screaming bloody murder for me, but if a stranger walks by and waves at her, she suddenly turns on the charm, smiling and waving and clapping. But even when she wasn't pulling out all of the stops, people were so gracious and lovely. Her high-pitched squeals in such an enclosed space made me wince a few times, but her seat mates would always smile at her and make understanding comments like, "I feel that way when I'm hungry too." When I dropped a container of baby food while we were waiting in line for security, the man in front of me jumped so fast to help us clean it up you would have thought he was hoping to scoop up some strawberry-and-bananas for himself. Thank you, sir.
Sure, her occasional squeals earned us a few sour faces. But nine times out of 10, I couldn't believe how wonderful and understanding people were. I'm ashamed of my pre-mom self and I'd like to issue a blanket apology to all of the parents who may have been the recipient of my naive eye rolls before. Simply put, I just didn't know. I do now and I'm proud to be part of the traveling-with-babies club... that is, if you guys will still have me.
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