Have you read the nasty letter slipped under a hotel door to a family with a crying baby? Earlier this year, a couple brought their baby to a ski resort in Colorado. The baby cried at night and one morning, the parents were greeted by an anonymous note.
“Thank you for bringing a screaming baby to a ski resort and [waking] up everyone near your room several times during the night. These walls are not sound proof and the screams seemed to be right next to us. Babies don’t ski, no reason to bring them to a ski resort, they should stay at home with family or [a] nanny. I never brought my babies to a place like this, I was considerate of others, not selfish.”
The writer ends his or her rant:
“Hope you think of others around your next trip. Thanks!”
At first, I so empathized with the parents that I felt the mixture of shame and rage that they must have felt when receiving this letter in the morning. Whether it’s a hotel room, a restaurant, or on an airplane, what parent hasn’t been in a situation where they’re desperately trying to shush their baby? Those parents were probably on the other side of that hotel wall trying every trick they had –feeding, rocking, pacifier, pacing, swaddling — to settle their baby down. Unless they are true jerks and decided that a hotel was the perfect place to sleep-train their child, I feel pretty confident that they were stressing out about disrupting other guests.
I am stunned that this letter came from a fellow parent. Is he or she (I really only imagine a ‘she,’ based mostly on the tone of the letter) so many decades removed from baby-land that she can’t remember what it’s like to care for one? Or so wealthy that she never had to address her children’s cries in the night? (“Night nurse? Can you please attend to that noise?”) Or maybe she had a baby who never cried? That must be it!
But then I read some more details about the situation, courtesy of a scathing blog post written by the letter recipient’s brother. It turns out that it was a medical conference at a fancy ski resort and the baby’s father, a brain surgeon, brought his wife and young daughter along. The baby usually sleeps through the night but was teething.
These details complicate my opinion. I believe that babies should be allowed in hotels, even fancy ones, but I also believe that parents should know when a situation isn’t working out and they should leave. We take our kids to restaurants, for example, but if they’re being brats, my husband or I will walk them around the block while the other asks for to-go boxes. After one bad night of crying, the parents could have asked the hotel management for a more isolated room or moved to a private cabin. The letter-writer could have handled it more maturely by either having a conversation with the parents or asking for a new room assignment.
Babies are people. They can be in society. Parents should not have to be terrified of public condemnation every time their baby makes a noise. But if a baby is screaming her head off and it’s possible to leave the situation (therefore, this does not include airplanes!), the family should go.
Who do you agree with: the parents with the crying baby or the anonymous letter writer?