When a baby won’t stop crying in public, you can bet they are being nervously soothed by an angst-ridden parent feeling unrelenting embarrassment. These are the parents who apologize to passersby or offer treats to in hopes of fellow airline passengers. These are the dads that scurry out of public places with the wailing kid in their arms. But the weird thing about crying babies is that they grow up to be adults who forget they were ever a minor inconvenience for a stranger. Those inconsolable kids were once us. And those parents don’t need our side-eye, they need our support, our help, and our defense.
Babies cry whenever they are feeling discomfort or unease. They will cry regardless of whether or not they are in the presence of grocery store checkers or royalty. There’s literally nothing to be done to stop it or solve it.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t support the parent who is stuck in a helpless situation. After all what else would we have them do? We can’t demand that parents stop flying, or buying groceries, or taking the bus, or going to church. And we definitely can’t demand that babies be quiet.
If there’s a crying baby we can go out of our way to let a parent know that it’s fine. That can come in the form of a smile, or a nod of the head and a simple assurance that it’s fine. There might actually even be a way to help, and asking if you can help is fine, as long as you’re ready and willing to accept the answer. And there may be no answer. But that’s okay too. It’s fine to move on.
A crying baby is a minor blip in the life of someone without a baby. It’s completely bizarre that so many people take it so personally, forgetting they cried or had kids that cried in public. But the grumps and grumblers who sneer at crying babies will probably always be around. They can and should be ignored. If the contentment in their day is so tenuous that a crying baby can derail them, it’s likely they have bigger problems and should be left to them.
But for the assholes that call out a parent with a crying baby, more drastic measures should be taken — they should be called out and publicly shamed. It’s only fitting. If a person is so embittered and ignorant of what it’s likely to raise a baby in public, then they should learn a thing or to about shame.
Raising babies is really one of the most important jobs in the country. Without babies, we simply won’t survive as a culture. And as a culture, we’ve made it so that raising babies in public is a necessity. We should celebrate kids that cry in public. Those wet cheeks and grating wails, like or not, is a sign that we still have a future. And the people doing the hard work of raising that future should be given all the support and deference we can offer.