Last week I was traveling with my toddler on the last leg of our long journey. She was exhausted and had not seen her father in eight days. The last time she and I flew, she could sit on my lap. Now, two and half years old and screaming bloody murder, she had to sit in her own seat.
I was that mom. You know the one I am talking about. The one who is literally more desperate than every other person on the planet for quiet.
Yea, I saw the looks. I know they were desperate. But I was low on caffeine, missed my husband, and had just lugged a 35-pound squirming monkey and a train of carry-ons for what felt like 2 miles.
They could not know my level of desperation.
I am not contesting the FAA rule to have a two and a half year old in a seat belt. I was physically wrestling my sobbing and screaming toddler into her seat-belt and holding it so that she could not exit the seat. While I was explaining to her that wearing the seatbelt would help her to see her daddy, a female flight attendant, who overheard our conversation, leaned over and stated,
“I am going to tell the captain that you won’t wear your seat-belt and then you won’t get to see your daddy at all.”
Whether my child had been exhausted or not, the only part of that statement she understood was “you aren’t going to see your daddy.” My 30-month-old does not know who or what a captain is. My 30-month-old was not being willfully problematic or attempting to break an FAA rule. I was attempting to comply. I was frustrated and exhausted. I was afraid that my immediate reaction was one from those emotions.
I get she could have been tired. She could have had a migraine. No one wants to deal with a screaming child. I didn’t want to deal with a screaming child.
But a fellow woman and mother literally taunted a two and half year old child like she was a drunk or belligerent flyer.
The next flight attendant came and offered my toddler a cookie. It was a treat, something she doesn’t get normally.
It literary fixed the entire problem.
I was still mortified, exhausted, and frustrated. Now, while I was busy not wrestling a rabid, exhausted, and confused primate of a toddler, I had a moment to reflect. One simple act of kindness, with a smile and a soft word, diffused a situation.
One simple act of unthinking with a harsh tone and a frown incited more emotional response that I dreamed.
Girls, we can do better. Today, I ask us all to be aware of our simple acts of unthinking. How much difference our tone, some true empathy, and critical thinking can make.