Whenever strangers tell me RB has been really good on a train / plane, and they barely noticed he was there, I feel like they should be saying well done to me and / or his dad instead. It takes a lot of effort to keep him quiet. We are on guard, ready to drop what we’re doing, sacrifice our comfort and feed or entertain him. To rearrange things, move him, even sit on the floor next to him in his pushchair (on a train) if that’s what it takes. Old journeys of headphones, a book and refreshments on demand are long forgotten. New journeys take much pre-planning and personal sacrifice.
Equally, when strangers say he’s been really good, I feel annoyed. They sound almost grateful. What if they’d heard many peeps from him? What if he wailed the whole time, despite our best efforts – the same efforts that kept him quiet? Would he have been really bad? Would they be blaming us? (I don’t really think that last one needs the question mark.)
I don’t know what is nature and what is nurture. I don’t know what we can take credit for and what we can’t. But I do know we try enormously hard to keep him comfy and happy and relatively quiet. And I think strangers should be commending that effort, having watched it all as they flicked through a magazine / book while sitting comfortably, without a stone and a half on their lap, sipping on a latte/G&T.
And I have to be honest. I was one of those strangers once. I didn’t know any better. But why is it socially acceptable to frown on parents and screaming babies? We’ve probably all been that child at some point, most of us have been the parent. Once you’re in the situation you appreciate the parent is having a pretty shit time. It wouldn’t be socially acceptable to frown on, glower or tut at a disabled person making noises. Why is one socially off limits and the other isn’t?