‘Polite’ or Pathetic? You Be the Judge

by Matt Villano

‘Polite’ or Pathetic? You Be the Judge

Parents of 14-week-old twins thought they were doing good by doling out goodie bags to a plane full of passengers. Instead, mom and dad helped to poison everybody. Against other family travelers.

Upon first read, the story disarmed me. Parents of 14-week-old twins, who were flying for the first time. Goodie bags distributed to fellow passengers “warning” them of potential crying fits. How different, I thought, how unique.

The more I thought about it, however, the more the entire episode disgusted me.

Maybe it was the spendy Tcho chocolate squares. Maybe it was the carefully-worded note (you know, the one that referred to the breastfeeding mother as a “portable milk machine”). Perhaps it also was the way ensuing news coverage dubbed the parents “polite,” and equated the offer for earplugs upon request to a random act of kindness.

Sure, what these parents did on their recent flight was different. It also was profligate (who the heck has money to buy goodie bags for an entire plane full of passengers?) and, IMHO, pathetic.

For me, as I’ve raved before, the big problem here is the notion of apologizing for infants being infants. They’re babies! They cry! As parents, we should NEVER have to bribe other people for tolerating our children. When we do so on planes, it only perpetuates closed-mindedness in others about families traveling with kids.

Often after I fly with little ones in tow, I feel like I’m the one who deserves some sort of goodie bag—an award for putting up with the death glares and eye rolls from passengers who see my beautiful girls and just assume they’ll behave like demons. (I also feel this way after flying without kids; there’s almost always someone on an airplane who behaves obnoxiously enough to warrant goodie bags for everyone else on board.)

So to the parents who engineered this “heartfelt gesture,” I say this: Next time you fly with your babies, take the money you’d spend on goodie bags and drop it off at the local homeless shelter. Those are people who truly can benefit from your “generosity.” What’s more, giving to them doesn’t inadvertently screw the rest of us.