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My husband spotted the situation first. Right next to him on the plane was the most adorable infant, possibly seven months old.
“Oh no,” he mumbled.
I smiled. He has headphones and we have grandchildren. Perhaps she would sleep the whole way.
Not this time. She started fussing even before the wheels left the ground. She screamed relentlessly despite the herculean efforts being made to soothe her.
An hour into the flight, a loud voice from the back of the plane hollered: “Shut that f—ing kid up.”
Do you think they were not trying to do just that?
A plane is no easy place to calm a crying child. Aisles are full of flight attendants serving refreshments. Anxious passengers claw at seats and line up to use that tiny little washroom. Elbows and feet create relentless tripping hazards. And don’t even let me start complaining about the limited space in each seating row.
Have compassion. Yelling from the back won’t improve things – I assure you.
It’s so easy to be irritated by circumstances beyond our control. And yet this does nothing to improve them.
Choosing a different response is possible and often more useful.
The same crying child boards the connecting flight with the same weary parents. That draws a few grumbles and sighs from the passengers who previously travelled with her out of Mexico. Many are bracing for another hour of crying.
Then suddenly a tiny little voice broke the tension with an a cappella song: “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. …” To the delight of everyone, she sang all the words.
Passengers began to chuckle and smile. The tension on this late-night flight vanished as a little cherub sang. One gentleman exclaiming, “I didn’t know that this flight came with live entertainment.”
In no time at all, the passengers slipped into a gentler state of mind.
When the baby began crying again, no one called out this time.
A seemingly insignificant event altered the environment profoundly.
Now that’s a more useful response to a situation outside of your sphere of influence.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.
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