By: Marion Dyksterhuis
Take a look around the next time you travel and you’ll spot them. Frazzled, stressed-out parents who are trying to get to Point B still intact. You know the ones: they look a little disheveled and worn. They may have an extra bag or two (under their eyes!)
I live in Ontario, but in my heart, I will always be an Albertan. I had no kids when I moved here, so when I travelled back and forth or abroad I always said a small prayer in the boarding area: “please Lord, do not sit me beside THAT family!”
Fast forward a few years and now I have two busy boys who make the trek with me to my hometown a few times a year. I have become THAT family. And while my boys are now very experienced travellers, they are still kids. Kids who, like any others, have melt-downs and tummy aches and can be downright crabby and defiant at times.
When we flew home for Christmas this past year, many passengers commented on how “good” my children were. It’s true. They were, in fact, angels. But for the grace of God it could have gone completely the other way. It occurred to me that “good” children equate to quiet children and, well, the noisy ones are just plain “bad”.
My friend told me about an international flight that she was on. A mother travelling alone with two very small children was treated horrifically by the flight attendants and some fellow passengers because her baby was ill and crying.
My friend and her husband helped the poor woman out by occupying the other child and taking turns rocking the distressed baby. I’m sure that mother was so relieved to have strangers show compassion and lend assistance rather than just sitting around and judging her.
When I travel with the boys, I do my best to be as organized as humanly possible. I plan for every scenario from flight delays to drink spills. I keep everything within arm’s reach and ensure that I have new and exciting activities and loads of battery power for their games. I book flights during nap times and choose seats close to the back where it isn’t always as full.
But if Murphy’s law applies anywhere, it applies to children. The best laid plans often go out the window, and when they do I now pray: “please Lord, sit us beside THAT stranger!” A stranger that does not cast judgement on me or my kids and can offer a smile or a hand if needed. One who remembers that they were once also a child, and that we are all in this together.
Compassion and empathy when travelling through airports (and life) goes a long way.