I don’t have a fear of flying, never did. Claustrophobic … yes!! But, I still fly. The only cause for concern is when I’m in an elevator especially in India where electricity is not a very steady flow most of the time. On a recent flight, though, I had quite a scare…no..not of flying but as I walked into the plane and toward my seat I see this young mother with a little girl at the window seat and a new born in her arms. I froze, my face went pale as I stare into the mother’s concerned face and I realize that my seat is just next them. She looked even more perturbed since her daughter was actually in my seat. Of course, I could not fight a little girl, she wanted the window seat and she was afraid I may want to snatch it from her. I wasn’t going to be rude, ‘sure, she can sit there!!’, was my response…trying to subdue the heart beat that I am sure everyone around could hear already. Sitting next to a mother with kids is not one of the most wonderful flying experience one wishes for, especially with a toddler who could end up crying all the way. The baby in her arms, seemed maybe 2 months old or so and was sleeping peacefully. She had her rather heavy hand luggage on the aisle next to my seat which I offered to place in the compartment above and she so happily obliged. I settled in praying very hard nothing drastic happens and thinking to myself, ‘its only an hour’s flight!’The little girl who seemed 4 or 5 years old max would not keep her mouth shut. She had all kinds of questions about the wing, the engine that strutted out, when the plane would start, how long will it take, is daddy going to be at the airport, can the baby sit on her lap and finally..’I’m hungry, where’s my biscuit’…..I hoped the biscuit would keep her quiet for some time but there was no biscuit. The mother gave her a good calm shouting, looked worried and seemed to be looking for something and was trying to get the attention of one of the stewardess. I offered to ring for her, try to put on a smile and asked if she was fine. It seemed like her first time flying and she was confused on how to put on her seat belt. I helped her and the little girl by the time the steward arrived and he suggested that they be seated and it would help if she try feeding the baby as the flight started to keep the baby comfortable. The slight stern face and tone of the steward sort of shut the kid up for a while, thankfully.
I prayed the baby would not start crying when the flight started and the pressure fell with take off. The mother was quite restless and tried to shade the baby as much as possible. I was not too great with starting a conversation with strangers and thankfully she seemed not too keen on it either. I remembered the first time I traveled with my little one, then 3 years old, and could not help smiling. What we mothers go through at various stages of our lives is hard to express and then we forget until something pulls it up from the stack of memories in time. I could not keep my thoughts steady for too long as it hovered and tried to pull up more memories nor could I read through the Economist which I had bought with me for company, well the cover page caught my attention, it was Putin on skates at the winter Olympics. Best to read later, I thought. My ears fell upon the forever questions the girl came up with and I could feel the irritation in the mother’s tone as she tried to answer them in not too much of a compromising fashion. I tried to recollect how I may have reacted to these questions with my son, and thought of quirky answers. I used to enjoy those times with my little one and we had some awesome conversations and these have lasted all these years. Parents tend to discard their children’s questions and conversations to lack of time and childishness but this is where the bonding begins and can last forever. These days, I get more answers than questions as he has grown up and needs me to listen to everything. Sometimes it is too much information, I don’t think I need them but I take it as much as I can. These are the best times I have, the joys of being a parent.
Eventually, as the flight took off she was quiet and started taking in the scenic and aerial beauty that probably may have been first time for her. She squeaked as she saw the clouds and the earth and was too excited for words I assume. The mother was too relieved that the baby was still peacefully asleep. Actually, I may have been the one more relieved as I realized its going to be fine after all. Food was served and all went well. We reached our destination well in time and I was clearly happy to step out of the airplane with a pleasant flight.
As I wait for my luggage I cannot help but think back on how lightly the mother took her daughter’s questions. I cannot blame her as she is clearly in the game of life. She was being the protective mother, had to be weary of managing the 4 year old and the 2 mnth old toddler, the multi tasking process to ensure both kids were safe, and handle the luggage on her own. I bet she would have been extremely relieved to see her husband waiting for them at the airport and be able to split the chore.
I am not an expert on parenting and I can agree there is no right or wrong answer but one thing for sure…it is the most toughest job ever and it never ends 🙂