Kind Stranger Helps a Pregnant Mom Flying Alone with a Fussy Toddler, Because Being Useful is Better Than Complaining

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Flying with kids is hard. It is really, really hard. And one of the worst things about it is the way people glare and judge you when you’re trying your hardest to keep your kid calm, but your kid is just not having it because your kid is a toddler and toddlers are not known for being calm and holding still for long stretches of time. So you sit there and you do your best and hope to be seated near people who will be understanding.

One mother got very lucky last week on a Southwest flight from Minneapolis to Georgia. She was in the unenviable position of being very pregnant and flying by herself with a 20-month-old, which is just a recipe for an agonizing flight. But then the man next to her offered to help. He picked up the 20-month-old boy and walked up and down the aisle to help soothe the fussy toddler so his mother could get some rest.

According to Today, the mother, Monica Nelson, had been nervous about flying by herself with her son, Luke. She didn’t like the idea of traveling without her husband, because these things are always easier when you have someone else to take some of the burden. But when Luke started getting fussy, as toddlers do, the man in the next seat offered to take him for a walk.

“It was such a relief because I was a little worried traveling with him without my husband there to help out,” said Nelson. “I’m still very grateful — he was so kind.”

The man is a father, and he also has a son named Luke.

It was considerate of the man to step in and help the mother with the fussy toddler, when so many people would have just given her nasty looks and maybe complained on Facebook about how children shouldn’t be allowed on planes. Complaining on Facebook isn’t helpful, and it’s not going to get  you to your destination in a better mood. Being helpful is much better.

So much of traveling with kids consists of looking nervously around the plane and wondering who his going to be sympathetic, and who is going to be nasty. You never can tell, either. My mother says she once flew a long-distance flight with me when I was a toddler and she was pregnant, and when she was seated she was relieved to see that she was sitting next to a nun in a habit. A kindly old nun would be a great seatmate for a pregnant woman with a toddler, right? Noooooope. She was not sitting next to a kindly old nun, she was sitting next to a Mean Old Nun, and the mean old nun proceeded to throw a massive, grumbling tantrum to the staff and everyone in the cabin about how she didn’t pay good money to fly next to a kid, and how the kid better be quiet.

But then a full-on 1980s business man in a suit and tie came over and offered to take the toddler for a little while so my mom could eat for a minute and not worry about the toddler making noise while getting stink-eye from the mean nun. My mother still talks about how surprised and relieved she was by that nice, helpful passenger. (And also about what a mean old lady that nun was.)

The other passengers on Nelson’s flight were just as moved by the man’s generosity as Nelson was. Andrea Byrd, who photographed the man carrying the toddler and posted the image to Facebook, says she was moved to tears.

“I was in tears,” she wrote, “not because he was white and she was black…but because it showed me today that there are still GOOD people out there in a world full of turmoil.”