Regina’s Writings: Kindness Forwarded

by Regina Cram

I was a new mom with a 6-month-old baby who did not like to travel. My husband Peter was spending a month in Los Angeles for work, so, with much trepidation, I packed up the baby, and we headed to L.A. for a visit.

Peter was delighted. Baby Skip charmed Peter’s colleagues, although it was challenging for me to spend a week in a small hotel room with a teething baby.

At the conclusion of our visit, we said our goodbyes in the hotel lobby. The baby began whimpering.

He cried in the taxi, then wailed through the airport. People stared at me with that, “Why can’t you control your child?” look.

I’d reserved a bulkhead seat for us; another mom and baby had done the same. Before takeoff, however, a flight attendant informed us that since there were four people but only three oxygen masks, one of us had to move. By then, Skip had been crying for more than 3 hours, and I was in no condition to negotiate. For reasons that now escape me, he and I were elected to move to the smoking section (remember that?) at the back of the plane. The only consolation was that the engine roaring partially muted the baby’s cries.

Skip continued to wail. I tried to settle him with nursing, a pacifier, food, and toys, yet still, the flailing creature cried.

A few hours into the flight, lunch was served. (Remember that?) As a nursing mother, I was ravenous, but how was I supposed to eat with an angry dictator in my arms?

That’s when the teenage kid behind me tapped me on the shoulder. He was covered in tattoos and had a pack of cigarettes curled into his tee-shirt sleeve. “Hey lady,” he mumbled gruffly, “you want me to hold your baby so you can eat your lunch?”

Skip was stunned into momentary silence as I handed him to the stranger. I ate lunch with tears streaming down my face. Such unexpected kindness.

Skip cried for the remainder of the 5-hour flight. He cried through the terminal and in the shuttle to the parking lot. He cried for the 90-minute drive home.

I don’t think I ventured on another trip with kids until they were old enough to change the spark plugs in the car.

My kids are now grown, but I still remember that flight. Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on business. The flight was packed, and passengers included four fussy babies. Before takeoff, I approached a flight attendant and quietly offered that if one of the babies began to cry and a nearby passenger objected to the noise, I would switch seats.

She looked at me, confused. I simply explained, “If a baby is screaming, the mother will be at her wit’s end. I have been that mother, and an act of kindness got me through the journey.”

One small kindness can make a lifetime of difference.

Regina Cram is a published author and parishioner of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish.