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