Mom's 'Dear Daddy in Seat 16' Letter Goes Viral: Here's Why

Awww! 7

airplane seatsIf you haven't yet read the beautiful blog post from Go Team Kate entitled, "Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly" -- you're really missing out on a true gem. Please take a moment and read it as soon as you have time -- you won't regret it. Because it serves as such a huge reminder to all of us that no act of kindness ever goes unnoticed.

For now, I'll give you the CliffsNotes version. It's basically a thank-you letter from the mother of an autistic 3-year-old to a man who sat next to her and her daughter on a plane last week. As soon as he sat in their row, the little girl, Kate, referred to him as "Daddy." Instead of brushing her off or giving her mom an annoyed look -- he proceeded to engage and entertain her throughout the entire flight.

And as any mom who has ever flown alone with a small child will tell you -- it's tough to express our level of appreciation when a fellow traveler treats us and our kid with sympathy and compassion instead of absolute disgust.

But if anyone perfectly summed up just how much a gesture like this means, it's Shanell Mouland, the mom who wrote this post.

Here are five quotes from her letter that we all need to take to heart, think about often, and remember -- especially when we're faced with the choice of being kind to someone.

I sat Kate in the middle seat knowing full well that there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight. I had to make a quick decision, and based on her obsession with opening and closing the window shade, I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat in the middle.

Oh, man. I've been there. Sitting there during boarding with my little guy and watching people passing by -- breathing sighs of relief because they didn't have to sit next to a kid. It's an awful feeling. Like we don't belong on planes if we have children.

I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held.

Sheer panic. How many times have you wished that a nice lady would sit there and help you -- only to see a business man give you the "nod" that he's in your row?

You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that 'smile' that I despise because it means; 'manage your child please.' You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles.

Cue. The. Tears.

The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing barbies, but I bet you wouldn't have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too. 

Imagine this mother's relief when Kate finally let this man alone for a few minutes. She must have been counting down the seconds until that plane landed.

Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.

Ahh, yes -- those apologetic sentences. We all feel compelled to say them as parents. Especially when it comes to strangers. How wonderful that for once, a woman was spared from having to feel like she was doing something wrong or inconveniencing others -- simply because she happens to be a mom.

Have you ever felt the urge to say thank you to a stranger?


Image via abdallah/Flickr

autism, travel, airplanes


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nonmember avatar Brena

My son is also 3 and autistic. I have my own list of people I love and would like to thank: The waiters who have smiled and tried to help my son feel more comfortable while eating (especially the chinese waiter who told off the woman who said we were disturbing her and needed to be kicked out even though it was a family resterant). The woman in line at walmart who was behind me in line watching me trying to calm my son during a sensory meltdown who, instead of giving us the usual dirty look, touched my sons jacket and softly asked him where he had gotten that pretty jacket and how she needed one for her grandson (which calmed him down!). And the cashier who after I explained why he couldnt answer her, gave us the best advice we have ever recieved towards his treatment!

For every judgemental or unkind person I have met there has been 1 angel that has made our lives that much brighter by small acts of kindness!

shann... shannipoo714

I have children to add to my thank you list too.  The ones who stand up for my son when he doesn't know how,  the ones who fill his bucket with nice things about him, the ones who invite him over and call him "friend" even though he is different. And not even that different, but just enough.  And thank you to the parents of those children who have taught their children to be good people.

starl... starlight1968

oh dear YES... My lil one was 4 going on 5 when we had to take our first plane trip and without daddy..I had packed her plenty of things to do/eat/play with but she loves to talk to people... A man was already sitting by the window when we sat down and he too was very business.....

Got my dd settled and she kept busy for a good bit until she noticed him looking at her new care bear.. I nearly had a cow cause now he was "in for it" I thought..  As it turned out he designed/ok'd/worked for the company that made the new care bears and he wanted to know all about her collection and the names she gave them etc.  We had 3 on board with us and it was just so cute... he thanked US when we landed for a very enjoyable flight and all the great information lol... I did thank him too but wished I could have said more....

David N PamelaWitt Moody

Many years ago when my daughter was about 2 (she will be 26 in Mar) I had a similiar experience that has always been a special memory for me - we lived 1,000 miles from my family at the time so we made quite a few plane trips the first years of her life most of them on SW where I could try to make sure we sat with folks that didn't mind kids but one time we had to travel with another airline that had assigned seats...boy did I dread it because she was almost 2 and was busy and not shy...sure enough the man that sat next to us was in a suit, but it turned out he was a new dad to a baby girl and before I knew it she was on his lap and they were sharing a snack and a story and were pretty much ignoring was wonderful watching him with her...he asked me lots of questions and it was a great trip...I know he made a great dad

sarrah82 sarrah82

Wow, not only was this story interesting and adorable... all the comments are heart-warming also!!! 

nonmember avatar Paige

I haven't been on a plane in 20+ years, so I can't exactly relate to this story. But I can say that I worked at a grocery store for almost 5 years, and one of my favorite kids that came in was one with extremely severe autism. He never spoke a word to me, nor looked me in the eyes, but I always took time out to at least try to talk to him. People stared at him all the time, but I was one of the few that would try to make friends with that little boy. I know it sounds like I am bragging, but I can only hope it meant something to his father who always brought him into the store.

nonmember avatar Heather

Paige, it did <3 From a parent, I can assure you, it does.

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