A Crying Child

May 13, 2010

On the airplane, a child across the aisle was crying. His mother was doing her best to sooth the little boy on her lap, but was jammed in the window seat next to two indifferent people.

I kept glancing over, watching the mom wipe the tiny boy’s tears. She tried all sorts of distractions. She took off his shoes and tousled his hair. She played peek-a-boo and tried to get him to drink sips of water from a cup. She let him hold her keys and pointed to the clouds outside the window, all the while calmly talking to him. She was doing her best.

I could sense the people around me getting annoyed, and I know the mother could sense it too. She seemed to get smaller in her seat. Someone near me said that children shouldn’t be on planes. I tried to figure out how a parent of a small child was expected to travel great distances otherwise. The guy next to me grumbled: “Everyone knows you just give the kid something to drink.” I turned to the man and told him how badly I felt for the mom, that her tension was translating to the little boy, and that the little boy was too young to understand why his ears hurt so much.

Despite being the mother of four children, I didn’t know how to quiet the child either. I just kept looking at that mom, and all I wanted to do was hug her. I’d been that mom on the plane before.

A nice thing… having been there. Wherever “there” might have been in our lives, we can empathize.

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6 Responses to “A Crying Child”

  1. Cynthia Cimino said

    the attendents can do so much in situations like this, but they’re either indifferent or overworked.

    whichever it is, it’s sad. if he were old enough, a piece of sucking candy or gum or even just someone to distract him for a minute and give her a break would have been kind.

    kindness is less commonplace today, which is not to say it’s gone, but it’s less prevalent I think. we’re so beleaguered, so pressed for time and energy, so many of us we are becoming a great indifferent mob.

  2. Every once in awhile, I hit a dollar store and buy a bunch of little toys and dump them in my purse. I used to own a promotional company, and always had weird little samples.

    I’m with you, Beep. I’ve been there, and a little compassion goes a long way. I fish out a mini flashlight or baby etch-a-sketch and quietly hand it over. It might only buy a few minutes, but the connection to the parent lasts a lifetime, and is almost always paid forward.

  3. kenhoney said

    Having been there. Yes. It’s one of the great things about getting older.

    That and the half-off 4:30 specials at MCL Cafeteria.

  4. Michelle said

    What a gift this child is, forcing people to look at their unconscious feelings of discomfort, annoyance, and lack of compassion. A bright force who only knows his needs and isn’t afraid to ask for them.

    I wonder how many people saying those minimizing things had a mother like that one or like you?

    There’s always room to work on this planet. A child can teach us so much.

  5. mattpaw said

    The grumbling guy mighta had a point, ya know. Unless he was thinking he needed the drink.

  6. Dale said

    Amen. There but for the grace of God (or the passage of time . . . ).

    “Someone near me said that children shouldn’t be on planes.” Too bad they don’t have baby carriers like there are for dogs and cats, and we can just pack the kids away in the cargo bay.

    What I like most about this post, besides the simple, caring telling and besides the compassion is that you told the guy about it. Because maybe that woke him up. And maybe that will change how he’ll act on the next plane–and what he might say then.

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