I’m baffled by people who are unaware that babies make noise. Somehow these people have never observed that young humans cannot speak to express their basic needs, and are hence equipped with a loud signaling ability. Unfortunately, there are people who expect babies never to cry, are convinced that all parents have access to an instant shut-off switch, and/or believe it’s appropriate to try and squish crying babies with their reclining airplane seats. Shudder.
So it was refreshing to read about a compassionate psychology professor at Hebrew University in Israel.
Sydney Engelberg was teaching a class on organizational behaviour last month when a baby in the lecture hall started crying. No, it wasn’t the world’s youngest frustrated genius. In fact, Sydney encourages his mature students to tote along their tots when they come to class.
If Sydney were someone else – say, an emotionally unstable airline passenger – he might have panicked at the first bleats out of this babe’s mouth. He might have assumed that the crying baby was a grave security threat, and that the sounds coming out of the infant’s mouth were actually strains from hell’s unholy choir.
Fortunately, Sydney is a dad himself and has considerable experience with human babies. Instead of sending him out of the room or banning his mother from all future flights, I mean classes, he offered to take the baby himself and try to calm him down.
Maybe the little tyke just wanted to be moved around, or maybe he needed a change of perspective. Maybe he’s actually fascinated by the application of decision making strategies in the workplace (assuming that’s what the lesson plan covered that day). In any case, the baby settled right down, Sydney continued to lecture with an infant in his arms, and someone captured this adorable Kodak moment.
I don’t know what Sydney himself has to say about his baby picture going viral. I’m sure his list of professional qualifications has a whole lot more impressive stuff on it than “baby whisperer.” But of all the possible reasons for becoming suddenly well known, comforting a crying infant is not a bad one at all.
And it’s eminently better than trying to squish him.