Childism: a prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs.
Prejudice: a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics
And then there’s this picture:
Selected comments from the Daily Mail’s story about the bags, in whole or in part:
“This is what educated, considerate parents do. People should applaud their consideration level, too often lacking in an overpopulated environment.”
“I’m not a fan of babies and it does annoy me when they cry. I know that they are babies and it’s what they do but still it’s like nails on a blackboard to me. If a parent even just said “look we have a baby it might cry I apologize in advance” I would think it was lovely but to give out some sweets, earplugs and a little note is so thoughtful.”
“I was on a virgin Atlantic flight once and there was a kid in front of me crying non stop people were getting annoyed huffing puffing etc. the air hostess asked the parent if she wanted to take her kid up to first class as there was a spare seat and she refused!!! The passengers around us started asking if they could take the seat instead lol.”
“Almost nothing worse than screeching children to set your nerves on edge.”
“When I travelled in first class with one of my twin grandsons, (my daughter was back in coach with the other twin) I worked at keeping the boy quiet. I quietly read to him, and soon he fell asleep. When we landed I got a round of applause from my fellow passengers.”
“What a sensible couple and great parenting – well done to them for pre-empting a perennial problem.”
“As a frequent long haul traveller, I welcome parents like this. Lovely babies, considerate parents, fab combination. Hope I get similar considerate parents later this week!”
“These are the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well mannered and thoughtful.”
And some comments from/about the parents, same story:
(Caption) “Christina Diaz and Michael Rubinstein were terrified of flying with their newborn twins, Jasper and Arrow, so they stayed up all night making goodie bags for their fellow travellers”
“I was really, really nervous about getting on the flight with them,’ Ms Diaz told the MailOnline”…
“There’s always that stigma of getting on the plane with babies because people get annoyed if they’re crying.”
“We didn’t want to encroach on people’s personal space when they didn’t have an option to go any where else.”
“There was a guy who I was eyeing that kept looking back seeing the babies and he didn’t look too happy. After she gave him the candies, he would look back and smile,’ Mr Rubinstein said. ‘That was definitely one person who was moved by it.’
As I see it, there are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to start. I suppose I will start with a comment I read on Facebook; that maybe all of us who disagreed with this gesture should consider the parents. We all know how much anxiety a crying child can cause, so they found a way to keep themselves calm, allowing them to be more attentive to their babies. Yes, I absolutely do understand that. But if that’s the case, then the parents should have worded their note differently; they shouldn’t have written as if the babies were the ones worried about the flight. Had the babies actually written the note, I think it’d have read more this way: “We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old! We don’t know CRAP about ‘best behavior’ you see, because we’ve only been here, on this planet, 3 and a half months. We hope you have a great flight!” Why write as if the babies are apologizing for being alive?
Why? Because babies should apologize for being alive; at least in our childist society. Babies and children should show that they are sorry to be here, so small and needy; and sorry that they cannot yet behave the way adults do (although I’m usually pretty happy that children don’t behave the way adults do, like when I mistakenly watch the news). How can they show it? Be being obedient. By being quiet, silent even. By offering affection on demand. By not questioning. By saving their youthful energy for times when they are not in the presence of those who no longer have it or appreciate it – adults. Alas, babies cannot do this. They cannot observe and respond to commands for submission; they cannot offer up a perceivable example of their regret and remorse (although some will argue they can)…so the next best thing? To have their parents do it for them.
“…We’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool.”
A baby’s cry is likened to an adult losing his cool? A baby’s cry is her way to communicate – one of the very few ways she can communicate. Even when a baby is screaming despite being soothed, she is trying to tell us something. I find it dangerous to imply that that is comparable to an adult, with the capacity to speak and make clear choices for himself, completely losing his temper. Think about it! When a baby cries, it is much like when an adult loses control over himself and gets very angry. No it’s not! And to imply that it is, is prejudiced. It’s an irrational attitude of hostility directed against babies as a group, and their supposed characteristics. It’s training our minds to view babies and their language as intrusive and inconvenient, and the majority of us are buying into it.
Just read the comments: Educated, considerate parents know enough and think enough of others, to spend their time and money preparing bags of candy and earplugs for their fellow passengers – those who don’t do this are ignorant and self-indulgent. Babies crying is like nails on a blackboard to me; please just approach me and warn me you have a baby with you, and that it may cry. I was on a flight once and my grandbaby fell asleep; the other adults were so proud that I’d kept him controlled, they applauded me! Babies crying is a constant problem – has been since the beginning of time, and will be til the end. And, my favorite (I stopped on page 2/3, because I caught the general gist…though there were many people who spoke up for the babies): “These are the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well mannered and thoughtful.”
Why are these the sort of parents who will bring up their children to be well-mannered and thoughtful? Because in our world, well-mannered and thoughtful are code for trained and subdued. That comment, to me, meant that these are the sort of parents who will know enough to teach their children their place in society, at the bottom of the totem pole. These parents won’t raise children who will feel they should be true to themselves, as they are; they will raise children who know we expect them to be true to who adults allow them to be.
That’s what this is really about – who adults will allow babies and children to be. Of course we liken a baby’s cry to an adult’s loss of temper – they both make adults feel the same way. Uncomfortable, anxious, annoyed. When one adult makes another adult uncomfortable, what can they do? Depending on their relationship with that person, they can ask the person to stop; or they remove ourselves; or they can offer assistance. But what do they truly want to do, when someone is really making a scene? They often want to put an end to it, immediately, on their terms. We can’t though, because other adults have power, just like we do. If only they couldn’t speak, right? If only they were so small and helpless that we could demand they shut up, intimidate them into doing it. If only they had less power and we could dictate which behavior and language is acceptable from them. If only they were babies or children.
Finally, there’s this comment (excerpt), from my blog’s Facebook page, after I’d posted this picture: “Just because we know our babies should have the right to cry, doesn’t mean we have the right to be indulgent about it…”
Yes, yes it does. I don’t feel like I’m being indulgent, but I will always allow my babies to indulge themselves – because they know no different. I don’t feel our babies should have the right to cry – I know my babies absolutely do have the right to cry. It should not be viewed as permissive to allow a baby to cry in public, no matter how small the space; I just cannot relate to that. This shouldn’t even be a conversation. But it is, because people don’t realize that all the cheering and warm feelings so many have for that picture, is nothing less than what happens at sports games: Us vs. Them. Adults vs. Babies and Children. That’s right, you guys, this is how you do it. Don’t board a plane with babies and expect us to accept you. There is a division between us and we don’t want that to be forgotten. Their presence alone inconveniences us, and we want that recognized. You’re in the club, parents – we know you get that it’s all about us and what we desire. It feeds into the mentality that children are lesser, and that we as adults should be praised for contending with their intrusiveness.
I am so sorry these parents worried so much over flying with their children. I am more sorry that they chose to address their nerves this way; however well-intentioned they were. Children are of a lesser class in our society, and that is heartbreaking. Gestures like this are dangerous fuel for the inferno of hatred against youth. It may rage quietly, unnoticed; but I feel it everyday. Instead of cheering these parents on we should all look deeply at why they did this, and why so many are touched that they did. That so many feel this is how people should treat one another – adults should readily realize our inherent aversion to small, young people, and we should attempt to minimize the damage caused by having them around. No thank you.
I don’t start staring at people with babies in the airport, calculating how much of a nuisance they’ll be once we’ve boarded. Not only do I remember that I was once that size; but I never forget that they are human. They are not “encroaching on our personal space” – this is our planet, everyone’s including babies and children. They are entitled to the same rights and privileges I am. I can speak when I want to, in whatever language suits me. I can express myself however I feel I need to, within the confines of the law. Babies and children are subject to unwritten laws as well, dangerous notions that speak to a general dislike of children and make some parents feel embarrassed to have them in public – and led to the creation of these “care” packages.
I wonder, too, if the babies had cried the entire flight. After all the parents’ effort, the babies performed well and didn’t make a fuss. But what if they had? What if they’d screamed, vomited, messed their diapers through their onesies? Hm. I’ll bet these bags wouldn’t have meant anything to all those delighted passengers, or to the man who snapped the picture. I’ll bet his caption would have read more like, “Parents of screaming babies thought candy would help us sleep better. Nice try.” Probably, no one would have cared at all, or the parents would have been mocked; because the ultimate objective wouldn’t have been accomplished – that of getting on with life the way we would if there were no children or babies around, or if evidence of their presence was kept at a minimum. Because according to our society’s thinking, children are property, and can and should be controlled, to serve adult needs. Childism is alive and well.