Stephanie Hollifield, a mum and writer at Momstrosity, knows firsthand how difficult flying with little kids can be. And while she tried to do everything in her power on a cross-country flight to keep her toddler distracted and quiet, it's definitely never as easy a task as you hope it will be. She shared her personal experience with a cranky passenger on her flight on Facebook, and to say her story could resonate with any parent of young kids would be a gigantic understatement.
"I first noticed you when you sighed loudly as you laid eyes on me and my toddler boarding the plane," she wrote. "In a momentary lapse of judgment, we sat behind you. It was the nearest set of seats, and I couldn't wait to put my child and our heavy bags down. From the over dramatic huffs and puffs you let out as we buckled in, it was clear that you were annoyed by our very presence."
Without anywhere else to go, Stephanie settled into her seat and tried to ignore the glares coming from his direction.
"At this point, my little girl was laughing and playing, obviously too loud for your liking," Stephanie wrote. "I wondered if you had a bad day, or if this grouchy temperament was your normal behaviour. I wondered if your wife was embarrassed as she quietly nodded at your frustrations. I wondered if you had children of your own . . . Did you wonder about this mum and little girl who were flying alone?"
For the record, Stephanie was beyond nervous and worried to fly with her kiddo all by herself. After all, it's a more stressful experience for the child's parents than for anyone else on the plane. She did everything she could to prep for the flight, bringing toys and books along, and tried her best to keep her daughter quiet and calm. But no matter how much you plan, sometimes meltdowns happen. As soon as the plane started making its way down the runway, the tears came in full force.
"I apologized to everyone around me. I almost started crying myself. I was feeling shame and guilt for not being able to control my own child."
"As we took off, her tears started," Stephanie wrote. "The kicking and the screaming tantrums came on fast. She had been up since early morning. She hadn't had a nap. She hadn't eaten much. She was recovering from a sinus infection, and I wondered if the pressure from the altitude hurt her ears. She was exhausted and fussy. You did not let up with your mutters of annoyance and looks over your shoulder. I apologized to everyone around me. I almost started crying myself. I was feeling shame and guilt for not being able to control my own child."
Just when Stephanie thought she was going to break down herself, a kind flight attendant came to the rescue.
"I was at the end of my rope, but then, an angel to the rescue — the flight attendant came by and gave my daughter a cup and straw to play with," she wrote. "And just like that, the screams stopped and my baby was suddenly content. The kind attendant told us, 'It's OK! Flying is tough on everyone, and you are both doing great!' Somehow, her kindness calmed my baby. Somehow, her simple words made me feel better. She was right. We were doing great! We were doing our best, and that's as great as it gets."
Reflecting on her experience with the other passenger, Stephanie came to a conclusion: it was he who had the issue, not her or her child.
"The problem wasn't with us, it was with you," she said. "What you need to know, is that while children can be terribly inconvenient now, they will run the world when you are old and grey. Kids can be annoying and downright obnoxious, but they are also innovative and brilliant . . . They can be selfish and loud, but they can also be precious and loving."
As for all the adults in the world? Stephanie says if you don't have something nice to say, just don't say anything at all.
"If you can't muster up a smile and a hello, then simple silence will do just fine," she said. "I get it, kids can be a nuisance, but next time you are forced to be near one, I hope that you will be more like the flight attendant. I hope that instead of frustration and annoyance, you feel hope and goodness. This world certainly has enough negativity without us adding to it, and just maybe the kindness you give out today, will be returned to you in the future."