A Thank You Letter To My Fellow Passengers On The Flight With My Toddler

5:55 AM

Parents ask what do I need to travel with my child while passengers ask do I have to travel with your child. Taking a baby on a plane is hard—for everyone.

taking a baby on a plane

What Do I Need To Travel With My Child

The most honest answer to this question is twofold: You need a lot of patience, and you need kind co-travelers. Taking a baby on a plane isn't for the faint of heart. On VProud there's a wonderful video filled with travel tips for families, specifically focused on how to get through a flight, baby in hand. Or arm. Or lap. Writer Lindsey Henke reflects on her own toddler travel experience in the best kind of unexpected way. Her fellow travelers showed her grace and kindness, easing her heart and flight. Take a look at Lindsey's letter to her fellow passengers. It's a perfect reminder of just how much power a little kindness and grace can have and that you never know the effect your actions have on others.

—The VProud Team

traveling with a toddler

A Thank You Letter to My Fellow Passengers on the Flight with My Toddler

By Lindsey Henke for VProud

Thank You To My Fellow Passengers on a Flight with My Toddler,

I see you eyeing me at the gate. Smiling and playfully waving at my 15-month old as she giggles back and says a soft pitched baby “Hi.” Isn't she adorable, you think as she returns your waving gesture. However, I know inside you are crossing your fingers and secretly hoping you don't have to sit next to our family on the plane.

Guess what. I don't want to do this either. Heck, I don't want to sit next to my kid either because I know just how ugly it's going to get.

Right now, while waiting to board the plane, she might be all giggles and chubby cheek cuteness but we both know that a toddler who got up at 4:30 in the morning to catch a seven o’clock flight that is three hours long is basically a ticking time bomb. An hour into the journey she will be ready to explode into an over-stimulated, exhausted, and hungry tantrum, cramped in a two-by-two foot inescapable airplane seat. It's just the laws of toddler physics. It's not 'if' it happens but when.

Let me tell you, I have been dreading this moment probably more and longer than you have. With stories of parents of toddlers being kicked off the plane over a fussy child or, even worse, the plane landing because of a baby who is struggling to self-soothe. I've feared this flight for months, not just for a few minutes since my eyes laid eyes on the child that could possibly be my seat mate during the trip.

Sitting on the plane after boarding last, so my daughter could run off her energy as long as possible, I now hold my breath. Watching and waiting anxiously for the doors to close and the plane to taxi and take off. For I hope that maybe when we become airborne it will be harder for the flight staff to kick us off. But then you and I will be trapped with a legal explosive device called a toddler.

And we were all pleasantly surprised because that cute ticking time bomb did great! We made it through take off together, climbed to 35,000 feet and cruised above the clouds for 45 minutes. I even turned to my seat mate and he gave us a thumbs up. We thought we had made it through the fight without a scratch. 

But we had celebrated too soon as 30 seconds after the fellow passenger approval the little hand struck the one-hour mark of meltdown and the bomb EXPLODED! She burst into an all out thrashing-over-tired-screaming-can't-get-comfortable-in-my-seat-and-mom-sucks-at-comforting-me emotional mess!

Fighting it. Fighting the containment I enforced and the emergency responder I sent in - her favorite toy, Jeffery the Giraffe-she still continued to let loose her fury. Tears, thrashing, kicking the seat in front of her while I, her mom, try so hard to throw myself over the flames of toddler tantrums to protect you, my fellow passenger, from the wrath of a 15-month old who is stuck on a plane against her will.

All while I hold back tears myself. Tears of inadequacy for not being able to comfort my screaming child. Tears of fear that I am being judged. Tears for my girl who can't get what she needs and me not being able to make it better. Tears that after 20 minutes I start to believe that this explosion will last a lifetime. Tears for feeling like a caged animal, trapped with nowhere to go and no one willing to help me escape.

But you my fellow passenger, you HELPED us all survive this emotional explosion. And for that I thank you.

Thank you for wearing earplugs.

Thank you for changing seats.

Thank you for not saying anything mean.

Thank you for saying supportive things.

Thank you for not sending evil looks.

Thank you for sending compassionate smiles.

Thank you for sticking this out with me. 

Thank you for not complaining.

Most of all...

Thank you for understanding.

Because just as we all knew the storm would come, we all remembered that it would pass. In her case, pass out.

Thank you my fellow passenger! Thank you so much for helping me get through this flight. My only hope is that our new fellow passengers will be as kind on our return flight and the return flight of all families traveling with a toddler.


A Fellow Passenger & Mom to an Emotional Ticking Time Bomb (aka a Toddler)

About the author: Lindsey Henke is the founder and Executive Director of Pregnancy After Loss Support, writer, clinical social worker, wife, and most importantly a mother to two beautiful daughters. Tragically, her oldest daughter, Nora was stillborn after a healthy full-term pregnancy in December of 2012. Since then, she has turned to writing on her blog, Stillborn and Still Breathing, to soothe her sorrow and has found healing in giving voice to her grief. Lindsey is also a monthly contributor to Still Standing Magazine and was featured as Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine’s Knocked Up Blogger during her pregnancy with her second daughter, Zoe who was born healthy and alive in March of 2014. Join Lindsey's honest conversations on VProud.

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