The kindness of strangers
Recently, my hubby and I decided to do something super fun (and a bit crazy). We love to travel, with and without kids, and so we decided to take the month of November, rent a house in Southern California, and hang out with our two boys, almost 2 and almost 4.
The plan? No plan, really. Just go and focus inward, on the four of us. We have a super busy life at home and the opportunity arose, so we took it.
Let me tell you though, there's one thing we know better than anything, travelling brings high, high stress when kids are involved. And me? Well I handle that stress (as a pretty high energy mama bear) a little better than the hubs depending on the situation. So we agreed that he would fly to LA before me and the kids, get the house set up for our arrival, and I'd fly down solo with the boys (with no luggage thank god he took everything with him) to meet him.
Crazy? Yup. Do I regret it? Maybe a little. But overall? Considering we made it down alive and relatively unscathed, I'm glad I gave it a shot. The 5.5. hour flight from Toronto to LA went almost perfectly except for the HOUR of screaming from my 2-year-old, who was woken up mid flight by the drink cart. We planned it perfectly, flying in the evening when it would naturally be the kids' rest and eventual bedtime. But it happened - for most people, a horrible nightmare - my kid had a full blown meltdown on the plane while my other son sat and cried because he "was so frustrated" that his little brother was demanding all of my attention.
The moral of this story is that before we left, I was asked many times if voluntarily flying with my boys was "a good idea." Maybe it wasn't. But I said to myself: I'm going to believe that with the assistance of flight attendants, the patience of other travellers, and the goodness of people in general, that I could do it.
And you know what? That's exactly what happened. When baby boy started melting down, the first thing that happened is my designated flight attendant came to my rescue because I had to pee, even though my toddler was wailing. She sat with my little guy who was frustrated while I tried to subdue his brother. There was another attendant who graciously asked people to wait while I strapped the carseat into the seat, got my kids snacks while they squirmed around and wanted to be in the aisles, and all the other things that people generally hate about people travelling with little kids.
Sure, I got a few glares, and yep, there was a good solid period of time when I wanted to crawl right out of my skin while my little guy blew his lid. But there were more people that helped me than made me uneasy.
And get ready for the kicker. Across the aisle from me was a young couple. The guy was in the aisle seat, and got lots of really close contact with me and the kids as I wrestled them around.
I was SURE he was like "Oh my God, I'm sitting next to THESE people." I thought that for a solid 3.5 hours. He never scowled at me just sent me lots of sympathetic looks and always smiled. But then, after the tantrum was over, and I had helped my frustrated 4-year old feel better about the whole thing, he tapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey, my wife and I have a whole bottle of wine under our seat, you're welcome to it - I see you've got your own little bottle but when that runs out..." And he didn't say it with anything but pure selflessness, as he saw how exasperated I was but how much I clearly love my kids. He was gracious after I apologized and said "Hey, there is really no problem. I haven't had the great opportunity to have kids yet, but I can see how amazing they are, I hope I'm blessed one day too."
Faith in humanity: remains. I was right to trust in the kindness of strangers, because human beings all have good in them.