As I reflect on a recent family vacation I am reminded of the humanity that surrounds us on a daily basis and the fact that sometimes we don’t give society enough credit for the good people that walk amongst us.
The girls and I were fortunate enough to tag along on one of my wife’s business trips, this time to California; the catch was that her flight was already fully booked, therefore I would have to take a separate flight with the three girls without my wife’s help. No problem! I said, after all it’s California, how exciting would that be? Besides how hard could it be to navigate an airport and plane ride with three kids?
So off we went for Toronto for an early morning flight to San Francisco, all was well as my wife helped us find our terminal and sent us on our way….see you down there, she said nervously; I got the feeling that she was a bit concerned that this might be too much and daddy might snap somewhere over the mid-west. Bye mommy! the girls all said, and that was that we were on our journey, dad and his girls, navigating security, finding our gate and boarding the plane.
We all got settled into our seats, girls with their headphones on, movies cued up and snacks on their trays. The flight went quite well, and I have to say my youngest did amazing considering this was her first flight. As we exited the plane the girls were commended on their excellent behaviour by at least half a dozen people…..nothing better than well mannered kids to make a father proud.
So off we went to tour San Francisco and headed to our final destination of San Jose, the girls had a very eventful and fun-filled week, children’s museums, make your own milkshakes and swimming in the hotel pool….even if we were the only ones crazy enough to swim outside in November; y’all must be from Canada! were the comments we got!. But like all vacations, they come to an end and its time to head home. So came the time to prepare for the trip back.
This time we were faced with an early flight; 7:30am, and with our hotel being an hour away from the airport 3:00am came all too soon. But the girls handled it in stride, we arrived at the airport, dropped off the rental car, checked our luggage and headed for our gate. Much like the flight down I was doing this solo, as my wife was on a different flight. This time however the girls and I did not have the luxury of sitting together on the plane, even with advanced pre-selection of our seats, the best we were able to acquire were four middle seats disbursed over two rows…..not going to lie, at this point I was getting very nervous, it’s one thing to navigate an airport with three kids without the aid of your spouse, but not being able to sit alongside your young children is a very helpless feeling for a parent.
But I wasn’t going to let this ruin our vacation, that had been incredible up to this point, so I remained positive and said to the kids…..it will all work out and we are going to have a great flight! So we made our way through security, found our gate and boarded the plane. I helped my oldest and middle daughters into their seats and got them set up for the flight, one row back was my youngest daughter and I. So I got my youngest set up in her seat, headphones, snacks and such, when the person in the seat next to her introduced himself……he said Hi I’m Mike, I see that you are separated from your girls, don’t worry, I can help to get your little one settled in and once were in the air we’ll figure something out so you can sit near her!
Wow!, an instant relief, this kind gentlemen observed my situation and instead of ignoring us and looking out his window he decided to show compassion and lend a hand. Thanks Mike! I said, and proceeded to sit down in my seat. As the plane started to fill up there were only a few more people to board and the seats on either side of me were still vacant. Down the aisle came a young mother with a child (maybe around 3 years old) she approached and said to me, our seats are on either side of you, would you mind trading so that I could sit next to my daughter? No problem!, was my reply as I was now on the aisle seat and closer to my own daughter. Well the gentlemen on the opposing aisle next to my youngest overheard this exchange and turned to me and said, I have three kids of my own, I understand what it’s like to want to sit with them on a plane, you can have my seat if you like! Thank you sir! And just like that, I went from stressing out about not being able to be there for my daughter to sitting right beside her holding her hand, all because three complete strangers showed kindness and compassion towards us.
As for my other two daughters in the row ahead of us, it worked out that they were on either side of a elderly couple, who took quite a shining to them….perhaps reminding them of their grandchildren, not sure, but as she knitted away, she would stop from time-to-time and report back to me on how the girls were doing, letting me know that they were just fine.
So there we were, my girls were all content, I had a nice chat with Mike, our new family friend, and I was no longer looking for the beer cart at 8 o’clock in the morning. So just when you think people around you are too caught up in their own busy lives, you have wonderful experiences like mine; we all get bogged down, we all have our own stresses, but lending a helping hand to a complete stranger could just be what a family needs….I know our experience was a memorable one, thanks to other peoples kindness.