Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C

Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C

Dear “Daddy,”

I don’t know your name, but Kate called you “daddy” for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her. In fact, you didn’t even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing you with her own “daddy,” but instead making a judgment regarding your level of “safety” for her. If she calls you “daddy” then you better believe she thinks you are alright.

I sat Kate, my 3-year-old who has autism, in the middle seat knowing full well that there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight. I had to make a quick decision and based on her obsession with opening and closing the window shade, I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat in the middle. I watched the entire Temple basketball team board the plane, and wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the back. She would have liked that, she would have made some observations that I would have had to deal with, but she would have liked those players. I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us, and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: “Hi, Daddy, that’s my mom.” Then she had you.

You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that “smile” that I despise because it means; “manage your child please.” You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored with you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.

Kate: (Upon noticing you had an iPad) Is dis Daddy’s puduter?

You: This is my iPad. Would you like to see it?

Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were offering it to her to keep)

Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.

Kate: Dat’s nice!

You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an iPad) I like your computer, too. It has a nice purple case.

Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder to you and that, my friend, is high praise)

You: Cool.

The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing Barbies, but I bet you wouldn’t have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too.

Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit. She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane door and she cried repeating, “Plane is cwosed (closed)” over and over. You tried to redirect her attention to her toys. She was already too far gone at this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me emotional.

In case you are wondering, she was fine the moment we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed.

So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.

Source: Huffington Post — Author: Shanell Mouland  – Mother, teacher and writer

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20 thoughts on “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C

  1. Dear Mom,
    What a wonderful human being you are, worrying about and expressing gratitude for the kindness of a stranger, when your own plate must be very full. And “Daddy”, just look at the warmth and good feelings that are spreading because of your kindness to a little girl. Thank you, Kate, for being such a good teacher!

  2. I absolutely adored this story! I wish more people were as understanding as this “Daddy” was. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Your story really touched me. I was the recipient of kindness from a stranger recently, too.
    It is reassuring to know so many wonderful people are out there -despite the bad news on the headlines.

  4. Just heard about this story on the radio while driving home. The 2 commentators sharing the story (both males) expressed their admiration for the “daddy”, saying, “That’s what a REAL man does.”
    I agree!

  5. I love that man for being a shining example of kindness, and I love Shanell Mouland for writing this on the Huffington Post, and I really love that you found it and brought it here for me and so many others to enjoy. Visits here always brighten my heart even as my eyes brighten with tears… happy tears of blissful joy to enjoy such acts of kindness. As I delight in telling you, THANK YOU for sharing these incredibly touching examples of the abundance of human kindness.
    xo With gratitude, Gina

  6. Such a lovely story. “Daddy’s” presence in your lives that day was a beautiful example of the benefits of assuming the best in people, and not the worst.

    Thanks for signing on as a reader of my blog. I’m really happy you joined us. On my site you will find a Friends page, where my readers leave information about themselves and their blogs. I hope you will do the same. Welcome!

    • Hey Judith :)

      We’re glad to join you and are looking forward to reading your blog as time goes by! One of my colleagues has just been diagnosed with Diabetes and my youngest daughter has suffered from a similar, but different, condition so I have a great interest in the subject matter.

      Talk soon.

      Best, Mike.

      • I spend more time writing about my life, and not as much about being diabetic; mostly I share stories about how being diabetic affected my emotional and physical growth. I am sorry about your colleague and your daughter — but the treatment of diabetes has improved a million-fold since 1974, and your love for your daughter will be what she most needs. She is lucky to be your kid. If your colleague has specific questions, I would suggest this link: http://www.diabetes.org/ I will also take a shot at any questions, though unless they involve surviving my depression and my horrid compliance, and what turned me around, I may have to pass the question along. Thanks so much for joining us! 8-)

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