I have been flying a lot lately. Lots of travel for speaking engagements for Federations, shuls of all persuasions, and as a spokeslady for Texas Instruments n-Spire CX (I do love my graphing calculator!). I see and hear a lot of funny stuff in airports, but I recently saw and heard a fantastic interaction I wanted to share.
The scene: Airport security line. Everyone in line is taking off shoes, taking out laptops, stripping off hoodies, preparing to place all belonging onto the conveyer belt.
The cast: First-time mom and dad, weathered, 40ish, perky. 18-month-old girl. Inquisitive, bright-eyed, well-dressed. PVC, BPA-free snack trap in hand.
The vibe: Hectic but organized.
FIRST TIME MOM (FTM) HOLDS BABY AS FIRST TIME DAD (FTD) UNBUCKLES THE–COULD IT BE?–THREE SEPARATE DIAPER BAGS AND PLACES THEM ON THE CONVEYER BELT. FTD TAKES SNACK TRAP FROM BABY AND PLACES IT IN ONE OF THE BAGS.
BABY WHIMPERS SLIGHTLY, STRUGGLES TO GET DOWN, IS RESTRAINED GENTLY BY FTM, REACHES FOR THE SNACK TRAP.
She needs a snack. She needs a snack.
(To baby, in a vocal register almost audible only to dogs)
Daddy’s got your snack.
(To baby, also in a vocal register almost audible only to dogs)
Here’s your snack but we need to put it back here, sweetie.
BABY TAKES ONE LAST MUNCH, RELEASES SNACK TRAP. AS THEY NEAR THE METAL DETECTOR:
Do you want to take the baby?
(Sincerely, deliberately, making full eye contact with FTM)
I always want to take the baby.
FTM SMILES WARMLY, HANDS FTD THE BABY AND PROCEEDS THROUGH THE METAL DETECTOR, FOLLOWED BY FTD AND BABY.
Are you gagging yet? I sort of was. “I always want to take the baby”!? Give me a break!
Sure it’s sweet, but here’s what I’m thinking:
1. My husband (bless his independent, non-schmaltzy soul) NEVER said anything like that to me. Nor does he wish he had. It’s not something that would ever come out of his mouth, not even under threat of me going on a baking strike.
2. This sugary sweetness won’t last, first time parents! You will be tearing each other’s throats out over who gets the last Bon-Bon within the year! I guarantee it!
After the lovely family made their way through the metal detector, the baby started to fuss a bit and FTM reacted as if the bombs were flying all around us, hurrying over to the FTD and urgently whispering, “She needs a snack give her a snack for the love of God give our precious baby girl a snack before her universe crumbles and she loses any notion of secure attachment we have tried to instill in her please for the love of all that is good in this world give our baby girl a snack.”
Okay. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but what struck me was the admittedly sweet intensity of the first-time parenting experience overall. Every sippy cup, every precious chenille blanket embroidered with the name that took several books and numerous internet polls to decide on (Is it too unusual? Not unusual enough!?), every little detail is so mulled over, so important, so urgent.
For those of us grumpy Scroogey people, or for those of us harangued exhausted mothers with more than one child who consider it a good day if each child is wearing his and not his brother’s underwear and who don’t give their kids a bath every single night with lavender oil and calming music and who sometimes consider a stale rice cake and apple slices a full meal, first time parents amuse me. And maybe I am jealous that I never had a husband like that, or an urgency like that, or a passion for doing things perfectly like those parents always seem to me.
I just have me. And my two imperfect delightful gentle loving boys. And we make it through okay. Even if I usually was the one to carry the baby, and even if my kids are scared to be away from me for too long, and even if we are not done nursing, and even if I myself don’t even get a bath every day.
Perky, well-dressed first-time parents: thank you for being exactly what you need to be. You make me smile through my snickering. I promise you do.