Monday, June 11, 2012

Crying Children and Southwest: A Revelation

A crying kid is not the first person one would think would offer a life lesson. However, on a flight home from California, I learned a lot from a little kid with big lungs.

Our Southwest flight was full. We had few seating choices as we boarded later in the check in. The only row with two seats together was in front of a family, with a crying child.

For two hours or so, adult beverages and an excellent mystery helped tune out the crying and wailing.

After awhile, the crying became hard to tune out. The noise was making me cranky.

However, when I walked back from the bathroom, I took a second to look at the family. The view from the behind was different than the sound from the front. The older sister was playing with her younger sister, trying to distract her with dolls. Unlike many families, where the kids are at each other’s throats much of the time, this girl was pitching in and trying to lead.

Then, later on in the flight, the little girl was calming down and peering over the seat. We started talking to the family. They were not bad parents. They were nice people. They were on their way home from a big family gathering in California, just as we were on the way home from our daughter’s graduation.

Sitting next to a crying child was annoying but the family worked together to calm the girl down. This was a refreshing change from the many times that families let young children just act out in public, standing there all the while with that look on the face that says, “Whose child is that?”

At some point in the conversation, the father said to us, “I don’t know why this is happening.” “We have,” he concluded with a puzzled glance, “flown before and never had this problem.”

I realized the phrase “I don’t know why this is happening” is universal to being a parent. Most parents try to do right by their children. Yet, regardless of how much hope and effort they bring, there are always surprises - - good and bad - - as parents, children and families move through life.

So here's to parents everywhere and, while we are at it, Happy Father’s Day!

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