Man goes out of his way to be kind to baby seated next to him on an airplane
Every parent dreads long airplane flights with their baby or toddler. It’s not even always the kid that makes it miserable (though sure, the crying and compulsive need to walk up and down aisle one hundred times can feel endless) but rather your fellow passengers who make it very clear, whether with words, glares, or both, that your screaming child has ruined not just their day, but their entire life. FOREVER!
We’ve all been there, and it’s an awful, helpless, stomach-churning feeling. So it’s no wonder that one mom’s post about a stranger who did just the opposite when seated next to her and her kids has gone viral.
The anonymous mom submitted her story to Love What Matters, a site that shares real tales of “love, hope and kindness.” She starts by describing how she prepped for her solo flight to visit family with her kid, while her husband was deployed for military service. Her list of provisions will probably sound familiar.
“I prepared well, she wrote, “relying on prior experience. Crayons. Books. Games. Toys. Snacks. Her favorite blankie. I spent hours trying to find flights with perfectly-timed itineraries, hoping she may be able to nap on the plane. Of course none of that mattered, and deep down, I knew it. We were going to be spending hours and hours on a loud, tightly-confined air plane. And of course fits of rage ensued.”
Every parent reading this right now can relate so deeply to this mom’s experience that they’re essentially head-banging along in agreement. We.Have.Been.There.
She continued: “I had such anxiety about her airborne tantrums. Once before, I had had a very rude man tell me to ‘shut that child up before I do’ when my very tired infant would not stop crying. I choked back tears as I ignored his comment and continued to try to soothe my baby. It had traumatized me a bit and I vowed to never fly again after that.”
This kind of cruelty is so shocking, and yet so common. Where is the compassion and understanding for 1. young children who are clearly uncomfortable and do not have the means to communicate their unhappiness because THEY ARE BABIES and 2. for families that need to travel, just like the rest of us? Nowhere on any airline’s website does it say that flights are for adults only, and yet fellow travelers act like their rights are being infringed upon simply at the site of a young kid on their plane.
Luckily for this mom, this flight turned out to be very, very different. “Much to my relief, the man sitting directly next to us seemed patient when she began to whimper and whine,” she said of her seat-mate. “I worked diligently trying to divert an outburst. But it escalated. Hysterical crying. My heart raced as I tried to ignore any irritated stares and eye rolls and focused on soothing her. But then the man sitting next to us did something I didn’t expect. He told me with a smile, ‘You’re doing great, mom.’ He then suggested I switch seats with my daughter so that he could sit next to her. I agreed. Then he pulled out his iPad to show her pictures of his grandchildren. He opened a game and showed her how to play it. He talked with me about his life and asked me about mine. He helped occupy my daughter and soothed her when she fussed. He was so patient and loving.”
This is why this woman’s story has gone viral, and why it may just be bringing tears to your eyes right now as you read this — the occurrence of one simple thing: kindness.
“Before I knew it, the 6 hour flight was coming to an end,” she said. “We had survived. And the man helped me with my bags as I carried her off the plane.”
She too, is awestruck by the kindness bestowed upon her by her seat-mate. “He didn’t judge me. He didn’t grow irritated when the screams and crying started. He didn’t say something rude to me in a moment of irritability. He gracefully sacrificed his time and energy to help a distressed mother and child. He was understanding. He made our flight, not just bearable, but pleasant. I often think of him all these years later. It was the kindness of a stranger that got us through that day and I will always be thankful for him.”
While it is certainly frustrating that our society’s default emotion on airplanes seems to be rage, it’s clear that it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it’s hard to come at each other from a place of compassion, but boy does it make the world a better place when we do.