Brace yourselves dear readers, today's post isn't written in the typical Thursday Thoughts format. Gasp! Okay, now everybody take a deep breath with me. Still there? Alright. I guess I just feel the need to deviate from the ol' routine and tell you about my Guardian Malaysian—a stranger who deserves an entire post devoted to his kindness. Now where should I begin...
When I initially booked our flight to Omaha, I knew the itinerary was going to be a little bit wonky. You see, from San Antonio we were set to fly all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina. From there, we'd hop on another plane and head to Nebraska. Nothing about our flight path made sense, but at the time it seemed like a doable way to save a penny or two. Never again, I tell you.
In the days leading up to our departure, I tried my best to mentally prepare for this trip. I reminded myself to keep a sense of humor and stay hopelessly optimistic. All I needed to do was just get to my family in Iowa. The rest would be cake. So when the day came and we kissed Flyboy good-bye at the San Antonio Airport, I knew I was in for an adventure. Ready or not, here we come.
After breezing through airport security without any hiccups, we got settled at our gate. I spent the next hour trying my best to wear Max out. Veteran moms said this was key to traveling, so I hopped to it. I quickly learned that letting him crawl and teeter around while simultaneously keeping an eye on two bags is easier said than done, but we survived. Thankfully it was only a matter of time before our group was called to board, and that's precisely when our trip got... fun?
As soon as we arrived at our seat, Max's disgruntled level was turnt up (because ours go to eleven...). I figured the fussy factor had something to do with the warm temperature on the plane. No biggie. While I got the babe out of his carrier, situated our bags, and strategically placed snacks and toys in the seat pocket before us, I glanced around at the passengers in our area. How did we get seated by a bunch of business men? Couldn't we be seated by a nurturing grandma or something?
Much to my dismay, Max's discontent nature came out to play. The crew had yet to shut the door of the plane and my child was putting on a Broadway style production. In that moment, I wondered if it was too late to just get off the aircraft and abort this entire operation. The introvert in me hates being a spectacle and it felt like all eyes were on seat 9B—the one with the screaming baby and rattled mother. In my attempt to ride out the storm, I nervously smiled at the passengers seated around us. I tried my best to quiet Max. Nothing worked. I fished through both of our bags presenting the unruly babe with every novel toy and snack in my arsenal. How could I possibly exhaust all of my tricks before take-off? This 2.5 hour flight didn't look pretty.
Now, in the past I've always avoided making eye contact with other passengers on the plane. I'm not big on small talk and I inevitably get seated next to a really loud and chatty person. But with a baby in tow, you have no choice but to get friendly and fast. I figured the gentleman seated next to us pretended to be asleep for a reason. Heck, I would avoid us too! Unfortunately for this "snoozing" stranger, Max opted to introduce himself by kicking the man's elbow. Fabulous! Overwhelmed by my kid's awful demeanor, I immediately apologized. I felt terrible and never expected my look of embarrassment would be met with a warm smile.
The gentleman went on to entertain Max with lots of grinning and cooing. Amid the flailing and crying, the two of us attempted to have an adult conversation. I learned the father of four was visiting the U.S. from Malaysia and was on a military business trip to learn English. He explained he has a baby girl at home and asked if he could hold Max. Desperate for help, I emphatically agreed. Stranger danger no more! But after ten minutes of Max bucking and sobbing, my Guardian Malaysian admitted defeat and returned the gem to me. On the bright side, things began to improve. Perhaps those silent prayers were starting to work?? Um, not so fast. That brief glimmer of hope was interrupted with intense grunting and a foul smell—definitely not the sort of relief I'd asked for.
GM: I think your baby has poop.
Me: I think you're right. I'm just waiting for them to turn off the seat belt light.
GM: I can help. (Presses button to alert flight attendant.)
Me: Oh, thank you...
GM: They say you can go.
I grabbed the diaper changing necessities and we made our way to the back of the plane. I glanced at the other passengers as we walked by and the results were mostly mixed with gracious smiles and annoyed glares. I tried not to think too much about us being THOSE people, and I had a really good feeling about this diaper change. Certainly it would do the trick!
When we finally returned to 9B with clean drawers, Max and I were welcomed by GM who was sporting two thumbs up. Who doesn't love a splash of optimism? I certainly appreciated it. Unfortunately for us, Sir Maxalot was back to his old tricks.
GM: Here, I hold baby Matt again.
Me: Okay. Are you sure? (Call him whatever you want. You can have him. Honestly.)
GM: Come here baby Matt.
As I passed "Matt" off to GM, I glanced at my watch and realized there was still another 1.5 hours left to this flight. How could I possibly survive any more? I didn't expect the day would be polka dots and Skittles, but I never thought it could get THIS bad. Overwhelmed and fighting the urge to cry, I bent over to pretend I was pilfering through my bags. In that moment of despair, I needed a second to myself. I stared at my disheveled totes and suddenly heard singing. Where in the world was this coming from?
GM: So silly. That's Malaysian hymn. You no understand. How about something American?
"She's got a smile it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories...
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child of mine..."
Yes, the Guardian Malaysian was in fact singing Guns 'N Roses to my baby. I couldn't help but giggle inside. I suppose this was just what I needed to regain my composure. I looked over at the seat next to me to find GM quite literally rocking out with my relentless 10 month old, and I smiled. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment or this man's eagerness to help.
People love to tell you how a baby changes you and I guess they're right. I'm not someone who warms up to strangers or accepts help. But on that particular flight, Max pushed me out of my comfort zone in countless ways and I'm oddly grateful. I don't even lift the arm rest for family, but when GM insisted it be done so Max could sprawl out on our laps, I agreed. How's that for change?!
If you survived all of that rambling, PLEASE tell me a little bit about YOU today.