I write this from 30,000 feet, heading home to my family. And about 5 rows behind me, there’s a very unhappy 20-month old. Actually two. A sweet husband and wife have two adorable, cherub-faced, curly-haired twin boys – and both of them have very good lungs. They have spent the 40 minutes of boarding, taxing for takeoff, taking off, climbing to altitude, and the first part of the flight, making it known that they did not want to be held in mom and dad’s protective arms, and they wanted down RIGHT NOW!!!
One son in particular has been in a full-blown, shrieking temper tantrum the entire time – which really is a remarkable feat of stamina if you think about it. Arched back, convulsions in his dad’s strong arms, shrieking to be held by “Mommy….! Moooommmy…!”
Of course, Mommy has the other twin in her arms. She can’t safely hold two wiggly active boys, so that left poor Dad having to hold on to a strong-willed, wriggling, shrieking tiger who didn’t want HIM.
It reminds me of that old baby-dinosaur cartoon from back in the day, where the male parent dinosaur was called “Not the Momma.”
Poor dads. But I digress.
Now picture with me, ten minutes of full-blown shrieking echoing through the quiet plane. Not crying, not sobbing, not wailing… SHRIEKING! With no breaks. Now twenty minutes. Now forty. And no end in sight. And nothing the parents are doing – soothing noises, stern approaches, trying to get the toddlers to watch videos – are working.
I see a very interesting pattern in the people around us. Each is handling it in one of three different ways. And it strikes me that these three different ways are really, really good stand-ins for how we handle any awkward public situation. One response is fairly neutral, one is damaging, and one is life-changing – for the person in need and for you.
Which one is your reaction?