There’s no getting around it: flying with young kids is stressful, whether it’s the first time you’ve done it or the millionth. But for one mom who boarded a recent WestJet flight to Toronto, Canada, she was pleasantly surprised to see it all go down smoothly. And even more delighted by the kindness of one of her fellow passengers.
The mother, whose story was shared this week on the Facebook page Love What Matters, said that she was on a red-eye from Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her toddler at the time. She’d been worried since her son had only previously flown once before, the week prior. And when a young, “macho-looking” man took his seat beside them, she began to worry even more that he’d think sitting next to a toddler was … well, a major pain in the butt.
But as it turned out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The moment I saw you (a big, macho looking guy in probably your late twenties), I was worried that you wouldn’t take kindly to and would be off-put by sitting beside a small child,” she wrote in her post. “I was completely wrong, and for that I am so grateful … The seatbelt sign remained on for quite a good portion of our flight for turbulence, which meant instead of sitting and being comforted on mine or Grandpa’s lap, he had to be belted in beside you instead.”
The anxious mom writes that although the man’s kind gestures were subtle, they were not lost on her.
“I didn’t get your name, but thank you so much for grabbing his blanket the numerous times he dropped it, half asleep,” she continued. “Thank you for making sure to point your cabin light away from him when he finally did fall asleep. Thank you for being kind and engaging him even though you weren’t obligated to do so. Thank you for offering him (and us) candy and gum for his ears. Thank you for letting him rest his little tired legs and feet on you. And thank you for offering to get down all of our overhead luggage so he wouldn’t be disturbed.”
Although she says her son is generally “well behaved and quiet,” she was nervous since kids can be a little unpredictable, and “people can be unkind and impatient, especially with small, overtired children.”
“Thank you for making our flight experience a lesson in compassion and empathy for others,” she continued in her post. “That little boy will grow into a man one day (hopefully like you) and he will get a lot more out of your simple actions than you realize. You will make a wonderful father some day if you so choose.”
Since it was first shared on the Love What Matters page, the simple yet heartwarming story has touched thousands. The post itself has received over 39K likes and 1.7K shares, along with hundreds of comments from all over Facebook.
“I wish I could like love this 1,000 times,” wrote one user. “My prayer for my 14-year-old son is that he have this same kindness and courtesy with and for people. He’s got two baby sisters that think the world of him … so we’re off to a pretty good start.”
“I’m always struck by how kind men seem to be when I’m flying with my toddler,” wrote another. “It’s the men who offer to hold my carry-on while I get situated, who get my overhead bag, who let [my] kiddo play with them, who offer to help open my stroller. Women are kind, but men are helpful.”
Here’s to the kindness of strangers everywhere, and to paying it forward in our own way, however we can.