Traveling these days comes with all sorts of challenges, but those are particularly amplified when traveling with young children. The excitement of air travel can quickly turn into hours of agony for mom, kids, and everyone else on the airplane. It’s times like these when a little patience and kindness go a very long way.
Mother of two, Jessica Rudeen was faced with this very challenge when she had to fly alone with her two children, three-years-old and four-months-old. At first, her oldest, three-year-old Caroline, was excited to fly, but her mood quickly changed once she boarded the plane. She kicked and screamed to get off of the plane and now the baby, who was also cranky and hungry, also started to join in the fussiness.
Jessica managed to get Caroline to their assigned seats while navigating dirty looks from other passengers. She apologized and pushed ahead, finally managing to get young Caroline buckled into her seat. She looked up to see an older gentleman who would be sitting next to the three-year-old during the flight. She felt bad, knowing he certainly hadn’t signed up to sit next to two scream kids. Jessica was surprised by what happened next.
The passenger in their row jumped into action. With a grandfatherly tone, he worked to help calm the children down. This passenger, Todd Walker, could have easily been difficult or chosen to ignore Jessica and her children, but instead, he showed kindness. He befriended little Caroline and spent the flight keeping her entertained.
Caroline and Todd became instant friends, and the young girl quickly forgot her fears and the flight passed without any trouble. When the plane landed, they quickly learned that everyone would also be on the same connecting flight. Walker changed his seat so he could sit next to Jessica and her children to help her once again. He even held Caroline’s hand on the way to the gate.
Jessica was overwhelmed with this act of kindness and decided to share her story on Facebook, in hopes that others would act in a similar way to help a stranger when needed. She shared this story:
“So with two kids losing their minds, I was desperately trying to calm the situation. This man reached for the baby and held him while I forced a seatbelt on Caroline, got her tablet and started her movie. Once she was settled and relatively calmed, he distracted her so that I could feed Alexander.
“This guy, Todd, showed me kindness and compassion that I’ve never known from another person. His wife, he said, had a similar experience when their two boys were young and a stranger showed her the same kindness. By the end of the flight, he was Caroline’s best friend. I’m not sure if he caught the kiss she landed on his shoulder while they were looking out the window.
“Amazingly, we had the same connection in Charlotte to Wilmington, a connection he navigates frequently for work. He helped us get off the plane and led us to the next gate with Caroline in hand. If that wasn’t enough, he changed his seat on the next flight to sit in our row to help us. I am blown away by God’s hand in this because we could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met in my life.”