By now you've heard about American tourist Jean Barnard suing Qantas airlines for making her go "stone cold deaf."
It wasn't Qantas, per se, that made her go deaf, though they have had their own issues with cabin pressure in the recent past. Rather, she alleges that the damage was inflicted via the lungs of a screaming 3-year-old boy.
Blood leapt from her ears, and her entire dream vacation to Australia and New Zealand was ruined.
Trust me, I feel for her. I've taken that flight from the US to Australia and it isn't a pie in the sky. I was supposed to make the sojourn again this past March, but I had to opt out. Sitting next to a screaming toddler en route: beyond nightmare, especially if that toddler happens to be yours.
Perhaps the hearing loss of Ms. Barnard isn't the best example to use for the point I'm about to make, but the incident did get me thinking. In effect, she is suing Qantas because the airline violated her consumer rights by sticking her next to an out of control toddler. Is that the fault of Qantas or the mother?
Or was the entire incident an unfortunate result of a clash between the inalienable rights of toddlerhood and the grown-up world we all live in?
I say "inalienable" because the high-pitched musings and complaints of toddlers are natural, yet constantly shooshed, glared at, eye-rolled over, and apologized for in grocery stores, airplanes, restaurants, zoos, car parks, car dealerships, train stations, botanical gardens, natural history museums, toy stores, parks and other areas of recreation, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets, puppet shows, and pretty much everywhere else we take them that just so happens to be in public.
Granted, it's our job as parents to socialize them to the prevailing customs of society. Yet society can be pretty hard on our youngest members.
Maybe it's the mom in me, but I feel for the kid, too.
I hereby propose that we ratify the following toddler bill of rights, if even just between us in the comments:
- Under adult supervision, may they run free of judgment through airport corridors and grocery store aisles so that when the time comes to "hurry up and wait," they will not scream like trapped banshees.
- May they smother their faces in goo without reprisal from fellow diners or a childless waitstaff that does not understand or remember such joys.
- May they voice their opinions, whiney as they might sound to the outside world, without creating disharmony within the greater world.
- Let them sit at peace in a dining establishment without prompting fellow diners to request another table.
- While we're at it, how about a children's menu that doesn't insult their palate?
- They shall nurse if they want to, where they want to, and when they want to.
- If they should experience a public meltdown, grant them a judgement-free zone to cool down until they're ready to rejoin society.
- Don't ever force them to be who they are not.
- Love them for who they are and what they do.
- And remember always ... they have feelings and rights, too.
What are you thoughts on this lawsuit?
Image via Milkbomb