We were about halfway through our third flight on our way to Hawaii, when the crying began. I was kiddie corner from the mom and I watched as she tried to soothe her young son. Nothing was working and she was getting frustrated. Her husband came up from a few rows back, grabbed the boy by the arm and said something to him, I don't know what, but it made him cry even harder when he left.
I have been that mom many times, not just on land, but also in the air. I remember holding Juli on the airplane while she screamed, because the flight attendant made me wake her up and buckle her in her seat due to turbulence. The consequence of that action? A screaming 2 year old for the remaining 2 hours of the flight. I wracked my brain for a way to help this mom, who was desperate to stop her son from screaming on the plane.
This was the first time Ryan and I had vacationed childless, so none of my "go-to's" were in my backpack. I had left my tablet at home for the kids to play on if needed. I didn't have any children's books, coloring books/crayons, play-doh, suckers, etc in my backpack. I just had boring old grown up stuff, and then something prodded my brain, "you have your iPod and there are movies on it" (the in flight movie was not a kids movie, and honestly it sucked). I pulled out my iPod, and scrolled through the movies, hoping there was one on it that wasn't scary for a little boy, and I found one. "Thanks, God" I whispered, as I tapped the mom on her shoulder.
"I know you don't know me, but I have been in your place before; trapped on an airplane with a child who is melting down. I was wondering if your son would like to watch a movie on my iPod". The woman looked at me and burst into tears, "That is the nicest thing anyone has done for me today!" I crouched down in the aisle, so I could be face to face with her son, "Hey buddy, do you like movies with aliens? I have a movie on my iPod that we could plug your ninja turtle headphones into and you could watch. What do you think?" The boy got quiet and looked at me. I handed my iPod to his mom and pointed to where I was sitting, I squeezed her shoulder and went back to my seat. I watched the little boy climb into his mom's lap and put his head on her chest. 30 minutes later, she handed me back the iPod with a thank you and said he had fallen asleep.
I know I've written this before, but I will continue to write it: don't judge the parent and immediately label the child as a brat when they are having a meltdown until you have walked in their shoes. Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or gesture and you can make a difference in a situation that isn't going so great.