It Takes a Terminal to Support a Family

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Life with babies and toddlers can be happy, beautiful, joyful, and fulfilling. Other times, it can absolutely break your soul and spirit. If you are a parent long enough, you will get to experience all of these peaks and valleys. Sometimes the valleys happen at inconvenient times, like at the boarding gate at LAX.

We’ve all heard a story or two about a toddler who totally loses it while traveling. Usually, when that sort of story makes the rounds on the internet, it is for one of two reasons. Either we are hearing the story because a neighboring traveler is retelling the tale of how horrible and out of control toddler was and how lazy and inept the parents were. Or, we are hearing about it because the family got booted from the flight.

But, not today. That’s not how this story ends.

This story starts the same as many of the others, with a parent and a child making their way through one of life’s valleys. As was told by Beth Bornstein Dunnington on her Facebook page, there was a toddler who was about 18 months old who was having one of those total meltdowns that only a toddler can pull off with such dramatic flair. He was kicking, screaming, laying on the floor, and refusing to board the plane. His pregnant mom was traveling solo with him and became completely overwhelmed. She couldn’t pick him up because he was upset, running from her, laying on the ground, kicking, screaming, etc.

My own toddler melting down at a boarding gate

The young mom eventually sat on the floor, put her head in her hands next to her fit-throwing-kiddo, and just started crying.

Let’s pause here for a second. Which parent among us hasn’t been in this exact emotional spot? Sometimes it is just too much. We are just too tired. Things are just too out-of-hand. There are no good solutions. We need help. Hopefully, in these moments there is someone you can tag team with and have a chance to regroup, but sometimes there just isn’t. Sometimes these sort of low points happen at the boarding gate at LAX with hundreds of others around to witness the events unfold. Hundreds of strangers, but no partners.

But not this time. This time a half-dozen women, strangers, saw what was happening and took it upon themselves to help. It’s easy to look away, to stay busy with your own stuff, to maybe even say a silent prayer or throw a caring glance, but not actually get involved. This time, these women surrounded the young mom and her son and started to each help in their own way.

They sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, they fed the boy an orange, they brought out a new toy, they gave the overwhelmed mom a bottle of water, they got the toddler’s sippy cup, and they did it all without being asked and without any extra discussion.

It worked.

The little boy calmed down, and perhaps even more importantly, his mom was also able to exhale and regroup. They were able to board their plane and get on their way because others cared enough to help.

Less judgment and more support will make situations like this better 99% of the time. Ginormous virtual high fives from me to all of these moms who saw the chance to make a difference in the life of this family and took it. I hope that when the mom and toddler got to their final destination that a loved one scooped them up and helped both of them get some much-needed rest. Life isn’t always easy, travel isn’t always easy, parenting isn’t always easy but it doesn’t have to be every (wo)man for themselves, we really are all in it together. Somtimes it just takes a terminal to support a family.

Thanks to Gary for sharing this story and you can also check out the full first-hand account of what happened on Facebook.

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  1. This is why I love reading your articles. What a total hope in humanity we have. I’m a father of 7, though three are grown; and four are 9 and under. My wife and I have avoided flying because of our little kids. I’m encouraged and even excited of making our first trip on a plane soon.

    • Brian, I bet you have seen just about everything from your seven kiddos! I can understand why you would want to keep things as simple as possible with that many to care for, but I can’t wait to hear about your first trip soon! You can do it!

  2. Summer, such a great story to start the week. Faith in humanity restored. Be kind. Be caring. Be nice. That feeling you get after doing so is priceless.

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