January 11, 2010

Stranded in the Airport

I am now safely back home, but I happened to be travelling internationally by airplane shortly after the recent terrorist attack at the end of December.  As a result, several hundred other travelers and I had the joy of sharing a terminal over nearly 12 hours of delays.

This is never a pleasant circumstance, but I have to say that it was made easily tolerable by the very kind people we met in our various lines and hours of waiting.  Nothing brings people together quite like a common problem.

But now to the issue at hand: with 12 hours of observation time, how did the behavior of parents and children hold up in these unexpected and stressful conditions?

The answer: shockingly well.

That's right.  I (almost) wish I had seen some truly atrocious behavior to report and analyze.  But the fact is that I didn't.  In 12 hours at an airport, during the holidays, with thousands of people delayed, I can't think of a single instance of really bad parenting.  It was inspiring to see the patience and calm attitude that both adults and kids were able to maintain.

But, I will pass on one tip: when travelling with a child or children and multiple adults, it should always be clear to everyone who has primary responsibility for watching the kids at the moment.  One toddler, travelling with what appeared to be his parents and one set of grandparents, was forever running around by the gate while we waited to board.  He wasn't bothering anyone; in fact, most of us exchanged smiles because he was so cute, and it was so refreshing to see a little one having a good time.  But, a few too many times, I heard the adults saying to one another, "Do you have him?  Will you get him?"  They never let him get out of sight, but he was too young to be wandering quite so far.  I was never certain who was in charge, and I'm sure that little boy wasn't either.

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