Babes On A Plane: How One Woman's Act Of Kindness Reminded Us All To Do Better

The viral story of a woman who soothed a crying baby is a wake-up call for everyone

Can we get a slow clap for Kesha Bernard, please?

Kesha’s story went viral last week when she stepped in to help a mom whose baby was crying on a recent flight from Seattle. Although she was travelling without her own two toddlers, and while everyone around her bitched and moaned about the noise, Kesha volunteered to hold the baby herself because, as she wrote in her Facebook post, “it takes a village.”

Yes Kesha, it does take a village, and good on you for stepping up. Most of us who are raising children believe there’s a special place in hell for moms who don’t help other moms, especially when it comes to public meltdowns.

I’ll admit, I used to be one of those assholes who’d look at kids acting up on planes and in restaurants and wonder why the parents couldn’t control their offspring. Then, a full-on “I’ll do whatever I want, whenever I want because I’m my own person and you’re not the boss of me” child entered my life. And that’s when I finally got it: kids are actual human beings, not little robots who, with stellar parenting and proper discipline, will follow every rule with a Labrador Retriever’s enthusiasm and desire to please. Kids have moods, needs and a desire to express themselves just like we do. When they’re hungry, uncomfortable, pissed off or sitting in their own poop they get cranky, just like we do.

Radical concept, huh?

 Kesha Bernard's Facebook post went viral last week

Yes, crying babies in confined spaces when you’re already delayed, aggravated and on edge are annoying. But isn’t it incumbent on all of us, as human beings, to help one another out whenever we can?  Isn’t this the golden rule? Didn’t we learn this in kindergarten?

It doesn't always work out this way, of course. I recently offered my tablet (loaded with kids games, naturally, because I haven’t truly had a possession of my own since 2011) to a family whose toddler, Nicholas, started going ape shit before our flight was even fully boarded. By the time we reached cruising altitude Nicholas had been at it for more than 30 minutes so I opened up Talking Tom and reached across the aisle. “He’s welcome to use this if you want,” I said. “It usually helps my kids settle down.” While Dad looked like he was going to kiss me on the mouth, Mom gave me a tight smile and said, “Oh, thanks but we don’t let our kids use electronics.” At which point Nicholas proceeded to smash his fist into her right eye socket while kicking the seat in front of him like a surfer fleeing Great Whites.

To their credit, Nicholas’s parents seemed determined not to make the situation worse by losing their own minds, which in the weird yet common way of humans only seemed to amplify the annoyance of everyone around me. Because mom and dad weren’t acting sufficiently mortified, my fellow passengers employed audible sighs, eye rolls, and snide comments to ensure Nicholas’s parents were aware of their suffering.

I don’t have to tell you, mamas, that this is messed up. Trust me, if a kid is being an asshole, mom knows it. She knows he’s ruining the flight, the meal, the movie for everyone around them and she’d stop it if she could. But she can’t, and she doesn’t need you to make it worse. A sympathetic smile, a kind word, a vodka martini …  these are all more helpful and more appreciated than your outward expression of annoyance.  If it really bugs you, go home and complain to your family, ask the flight attendant to move you, or Tweet about the jerk face four-year old and his clueless mother in Row 19 to get it off your chest.

It’s a universal mom truth that our own kids are usually way more annoying than other people’s. Just this week I watched my friend’s boys wrestle each other to the ground over the ownership of one particularly fetching rock. I even laughed (to myself, I’m not an idiot) when she lost her mind over it. But if that had been my kids, the entire neighborhood would have been privy to the situation going down at Chez Millard. My point? If you find yourself in a situation where a kid is misbehaving and it’s NOT yours, you’d best give yourself a silent high five then roll up your sleeves and get busy helping, ‘cause next time it’s probably going to be you.

The mom on Kesha’s flight wasn’t asking for a kidney, she just needed someone to acknowledge her distress and give her a break. It was a simple, yet undeniably kind, gesture that helped one mother feel like she wasn’t alone during a difficult time. So let this story serve as a reminder that we’re all in this together. And honestly, if the obvious distress of someone else’s child is the worst part of your day, you’ve got it pretty good, don’t you think?

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