A public temper tantrum is every parent’s nightmare, especially when your child picks a time and place where your own patience and resources are low. Like an airport.
As Beth Borstein Dunnington wrote on Facebook, that was exactly the scene she witnessed while waiting for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
But while the stressed-out mom in this case might have expected to be confronted by angry travelers, something incredible happened instead.
I was at the gate, waiting to get on my plane to Portland. Flights to two different cities were boarding on either side of the Portland fight. A toddler who looked to be eighteen or so months old was having a total meltdown, running between the seats, kicking and screaming, then lying on the ground, refusing to board the plane.
To make matters even more difficult, the mom trying to travel with an overstimulated toddler was pregnant. And that made it hard for her to comfort her child as his meltdown got progressively worse:
His young mom, who was clearly pregnant and traveling alone with her son, became completely overwhelmed. She couldn’t pick him up because he was so upset, he kept running away from her, then lying down on the ground, kicking and screaming again.
It was too much. The mom gave way to her emotions in the middle of the airport waiting area:
The mother finally sat down on the floor and put her head in her hands, with her kid next to her still having a meltdown, and started crying.
But rather than being accosted by judgmental strangers and impatient travelers, the mom soon found herself surrounded by the other women waiting near that gate. Dunnington wrote that it made her emotional to remember the “gorgeous thing,” that happened next:
The women in the terminal, there must have been six or seven of us, not women who knew each other, approached and surrounded her and the little boy and we knelt down and formed a circle around them.
They may have been strangers, but the women reacted like longtime friends. What’s more, they drew on their shared experienced as moms to help diffuse the situation:
I sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to the little boy. One woman had an orange that she peeled, one woman had a little toy in her bag that she let the toddler play with, another woman gave the mom a bottle of water. Someone else helped the mom get the kid’s sippy cup out of her bag and give it to him.
Dunnington wrote that they never stopped to talk about what they were doing. And once they were done, they didn’t stay and recap the experience. It was only about helping one overwhelmed mom:
It was so gorgeous, there was no discussion and no one knew anyone else, but we were able to calm them both down, and she got her child on the plane. Only women approached. After they went through the door we all went back to our separate seats and didn’t talk about it … we were strangers, gathering to solve something.
Dunnington says it was inspiring to see what a group of women could do when they reached out to help someone. And it made her think about what more could be done:
“It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world. I will never forget that moment.”