How Miracles Happen When a Toddler is Screaming on a 6-Hour Flight

Blog November 22, 2011

We’re en route to San Francisco right now, a six-hour flight, and my niece who recently turned two is having a hard time settling down.  It’s a scene with which we’re all familiar.  My brother and my sister-in-law brought a huge bag of tricks.  The endless supply of snacks, activities, Dora episodes, you name it.  The little one isn’t having any of it.  She’s not interested.  And the crying ensues.

Who can blame her?  She was woken up early, shuttled into the car for an hour long drive, then pushed through the airport where security “took” her stroller, then shuffled onto the plane where she’s trapped in a seat and has no space to stretch out, run around, or  play.  She’s likely quite overtired at this point but is too frenzied to allow herself to fall asleep, plus who knows what kind of discomfort she’s got going on in her ears or elsewhere.  It’s most certainly not her favorite day.

Amidst the cries for help, and my brother and sister-in-law lovingly trying to calm her, distract her, entertain her, feed her, walk her, and hold her, the peanut gallery on the plane has no shortage of commentary.  “Oh my god, what is WRONG with that child?” from across the aisle.  “Those people should NOT have brought that child on the plane.”  “Oh no.  I cannot BELIEVE this.”  “Oh GOD, I hope those parents have drugs.”

I’m struck by how quickly so many parents forget what it’s like to be the one with the upset and crying child.

After about an hour of crying, the peanut gallery seems to have changed its tune.  The chorus has become, “I wonder if a lollypop could help.  I have some in my bag.”  “Maybe she’d like to play games on my iPhone.”  “I have a children’s decongestant; I wonder if that could help.  Should I offer it?”  “Oh, that poor little thing, she must really be in pain.  I wonder if she’s teething.”

Hallelujah!  They remember.  The shift has occurred.

The judgmental snickering energy has been replaced with an empathic, loving energy.  The same woman who initially had said in a snide tone, “Oh my god, what is WRONG with that child” is now saying, “Oh, that poor little thing.  You can tell she’s really in pain; I feel for her.”  What happened to cause this shift?

Did guilt set in?  I don’t know.  I can’t say what caused the energy to change, but it did.  And the little one, after a solid 3 hours of screaming and whimpering, is asleep.  We all exhale.

Could it be a coincidence?  Perhaps.  But unlikely.  The law of attraction tells us that like attracts like.  Calm attracts calm.  Could it be that the  energy shift among the passengers helped to provide a wave of calm for my niece to ride into a restful state?  Maybe it was just the ibuprofen.    Either way, she’s found relief from her suffering.  And so have the other 149 passengers on this flight.  And that’s a good thing.

Bearing witness to this shift reminds me to continue to work hard to keep my energy tuned to a positive, loving frequency from the outset of a situation.  It’s easy to snicker and blame and judge, but when you come from a place of love, a place of “how can I be of service” – then that positive frequency transmits to others, and we find ways to work together.  In this case, the parents of the screaming child feel less stress, which in turn lessens the stress and anxiety the child feels, and the frenzied energy mellows.  Those good vibes just keep on reverberating, creating a more open and loving space.  Progress is made.  Sleep is had.  And that’s all good.  Now, speaking of sleep, with 2 hours left of flight time, it’s naptime for me…

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  • Sherry Schneider says:

    Great post! I wish on was on the flight so that I could help out…after all…that screaming child was my granddaughter.

  • Harvey says:

    Awesome post! You have a wonderful perspective.

  • Mary Beth Ciaccio says:

    Oh … been there, done that! It was supposed to be a “quick flight” from Orlando back home to New Orleans. (We had to circle several times) Dominic was two years old and as soon as the change of air pressure rang in his ears, he was screaming. I tried everything …. short of chewing gum … he had not never chewed it before, and, of course, I was afraid of him swallowing it. The lady sitting next to me begged me to give it to him. Reluctantly, I did and he was happy with this new experience (along with the great sugar taste) and he was smiling for the rest of the trip.

    • Stacy says:

      So funny, MB, that’s the one thing they didn’t try yesterday, probably because of the same concern! I’ve definitely gotta keep it in mind for next time I’m flying with my little man. Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you so much for leaving a comment!

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