A 13 year old in-flight babysitter sent from heaven above.

Anyone who has flown with a lap child (child under 2 years old) can attest to how incredibly difficult it is to truly keep said child on your lap during a flight, especially a flight across country with a layover.  I was fully prepared and armed with enough snacks, toy cars, coloring, stickers, and cartoons, which all lasted an hour tops till I ran out of tricks and entertainment.  Flying in general makes most grown adults agitated, and an almost two year old with boundless energy was no exception.  We hadn’t purchased a seat for our son, but lucked out on an early morning flight each way.  That did make a huge difference, but even with an extra seat our son wanted to wiggle and stand in the aisles, and it was a constant struggle to whisk him out of the aisle when the beverage carts rolled by and the line for the bathroom was nonstop. I took him to the claustrophobic bathroom just for something to do, and walked him up and down the aisle, but we felt trapped and confined, weary and restless. There were many sympathetic smiles from fellow passengers, and remarks as to how well he was doing, but on the last leg of our journey we were on our last leg of exhaustion over sheer boredom and confinement.  Into this came the sweetest God-send of a 13 year old girl named Abbey, traveling with her younger brother alone to visit her grandmother in Virginia.  My son immediately took a liking to her, and she in return.  It started when Southwest’s open seating sat us right across from each other.  This flight had no extra seat so I was going to have to wrestle with him on my lap.  Abbey drew and colored a pink llama and gave it to my son, and he was sold.  She offered to color with him, which led to him on her lap, which led to her feeding him snacks, helping him with stickers, showing him pictures of animals on her phone, bouncing him, and becoming the best in-flight babysitter we’ve ever had for the next 2 hours.  My son didn’t want me again, and I got a much needed reprieve.  I was so beyond grateful and chatted with this 13 year old girl who loved kids and wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.  If she lived in Virginia I would have snatched her up as a babysitter, but she was exactly what we needed for this final flight home.  I marveled at how God supplied her at an altitude we needed most, and how gracious He showed Himself through that little girl. The next time you fly or travel publicly, please be gracious and compassionate to those littlest travelers.  A smile, a joke, a compliment, and even an in-flight babysitter goes a long way especially high in the sky.

  • How can you show compassion, kindness, graciousness to families with young children when traveling?  In my experience it was total strangers offering me snacks, taking my son on their laps to look out the window of the plane, playing peekaboo with him between the seats, and a flight attendant offering to take my dirty diaper out of my hands in flight.
  • When have you (including me!) become irritated or dreaded seeing babies/toddlers when traveling, and when did that turn into a happy experience?
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