The Adult Airplane Technique
I’m always terrified I’m going to make babies cry. Babies are cute. At least, I’m supposed to think so. If I can hang with them while they snooze we’re Gucci…then they’re my favorite: their precious little toes, fingers and noses are just beyond words. Their skin is so soft and their little eyes are so curious. They really are tiny miracles.
However, there’s one time when everyone – parents included – can agree that babies are not cute: when you have to feed them vegetables they don’t want to eat. Due to the lack of baby/parent communication capabilities, it’s inevitably a bad experience for all parties. So here’s what usually happens:
1. The parent tries to shovel mashed what-have-you into the baby’s face; baby spits it out.
2. The parent attempts to scoop it off baby’s face, as if regurgitated baby food would be more appealing; baby spits it out.
3. The parent wipes infant’s face and tries again, using a high pitched tone to explain how “yummy” said concoction is; baby starts to wriggle and give parent the “wtf bro” look and turns head to the side. If parent happens to push in some food; baby spits it out.
4. Now the baby is real pissed – like we’re talking Taylor Swift singing a song about her ex pissed. Cue screeching. This is my favorite, sometimes the parent will use open mouth wailing as an opportunity to cram more food in the babies mouth. Really? We thought that would help? Now the nugget has not only spit it all out, but with vengeance, and they’ve ruined their semi-clean shirt hair that you just washed (let’s be honest, for new parents both of those occurrences are minor miracles).
I don’t have kids of my own, but I feel like I’ve been experiencing something similar recently: overgrown babies with millions of excuses to not own their shit in their adult years. By no means, do I have my shit together completely together, but I’m not throwing a fit and refusing my metaphorical veggies. I like to compare myself to the picky 6-year old, I don’t love all of my personal development vitamins, but I know the sooner I give in and eat them the sooner I get to go play. I have dreams of the day when I’m an actual adult and have an emotional stability juicer. In the meantime, I’m frustrated with peers and even those older than me that have simply decided “I am the way I am, and that’s not going to change.”
You probably know them, too:
· the one who’s the victim in every story
· the one who’s never wrong
· the girl who doesn’t understand why all of the men that she meets and goes home with the first night she meets them don’t treat her nicely
· the guy who is controlled by his emotions that rival a PMS-ing 12 year old girl’s
· mid 40s parent who won’t do anything about their anxiety/depression because they’re too prideful to get help
· the passive aggressive coworker who likes to put down other people’s success because she’s insecure
· the gossiping roommate who’s too busy judging everyone for not being an edgy hipster to even work on her own dreams
You see them, you know them, and if you’re like me you want them to grow up. They would have such a healthy, positive outlook and life if they could just…
…and that’s where we need to stop. At the end of the day, no matter how much you or I wish these people would change the fact remains that we can’t force them to.
When you try to forcefully get an adult to change their habits you end up with metaphorical mashed peas and slobber launched onto your face, and Lord knows that if that happens on a day when I metaphorically washed my metaphorical mermaid hair shit is about to go down…in a very real, non-metaphorical, no mashed veggies but hold ma weave, hold ma urrings type of way. I’m going to get mad at them, they’re going to get mad at me and no one is getting anywhere.
So what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to condone bad behavior, especially seeing as it affects our relationships with them? No. We implement the adult airplane mode: we make it look fun.
I don’t know this because I have vast experience showing people how great it is to grow up, but rather because it’s been done to me multiple times, most often without the demonstrators knowing it. Most recently on the very topic that this post started with: babies.
A lot of people find it odd that I’m not 100% sure if I want to have my own kids, especially considering how much I love children. I’m totally down for adopting a couple funky disabled toddlers from Africa, but my own? Sheesh, that’s terrifying. The only thing that terrifies me more than having to give up my monthly (okay fine, bi-weekly) wine nights and tearing apart every abdominal muscle I’ve worked hard to build is what I’ve seen with most of the people that I saw have families: they became different people.
I know, I know, having a baby changes you, you know the meaning of life, you have purpose it’s so beautiful. That’s great, but most of the people I know who have become parents change in an unhealthy way: they can’t talk about anything other than their baby, the most important topics in their world is no longer the state of the world and natural disasters but what type of baby formula is healthiest and when they should start applying for preschools. Come on, the kid is fresh out of the shoot, let her breathe for like 6 months. Literally. I was genuinely concerned that if I had my own kids, I’d turn into one of those parents that can do nothing but focus on their mini me…until I met David and Britt.
From the short interaction I could tell two things: they were great parents and they weren’t typical parents. David joked about how the “dad hold” of grabbing their son however and letting him hold on for dear life was the best way to get their baby to calm down, while Britt told me stories of all of the beer and champagne people brought to the hospital for her to drink as soon as she gave birth. She talked about how excited she was to work again, even though she would miss her son. I was amazed at how content their child was to just chill on the couch while they behaved like normal adults – something new parents usually struggle with.
They explained they bring him everywhere and still do all of the things they love. They went to church, and they also joked about putting whiskey in their baby's bottle to get him to sleep. They talked about fantasy football and how they watch Netflix series with the kiddo instead of baby Einstein. At a festival they even managed to walk more than three feet away from the stroller that was incidentally also hiding the beer that we snuck into the art fair via diaper bag – and then it hit me.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have my own kids, it’s that I was scared. As soon as I saw how fun it could be, I was converted. I looked back and saw it in other areas of my life, too.
My Uncle Kyle and Aunt Holly show me how fun you can make marriage (and how even in your mid 40’s you can still be super hot for your spouse, kind of gross, but also kind of cool).
Ron and Terri taught me how doing ministry shouldn’t be boring, but hilarious and always evolving.
My beloved Yaya taught me that being old isn’t going to be bad, that you can literally do whatever the hell you want because you have the life experience to not do anything too dumb and the white hair to prevent people from lecturing you.
All of these people taught me something I feared could actually be a huge blessing. They've taught me poor behavior choices as adults usually stem from fear in some way because being a stable adult actually has a lot of perks: promotions at work, internal confidence, acceptance of others, deep friendships, personal resiliency and tenacity to chase dreams and achieve goals, purpose, ability to think beyond yourself, wisdom and most importantly in my opinion: loving interpersonal relationships. The only reason anyone would willingly say “Nah, brah” to a list of benefits that good is because of the fear their life would become boring.
I’ve resolved to “be Britt” in these situations, to understand they’re on their own journey, and you’re on yours – so own it, and show off how fun it can be, and they'll probably end up wanting to be just like you.