FROM A FACEBOOK SHARE BY Phelps, Stephen E. Jr. (MC1968)
Mother, teacher and writer
Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C
Posted: 01/13/2014 8:22 am
*** begin quote ***
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.
*** and ***
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.
*** end quote ***
The next time I’m somewhere with a non-somnambulant (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/somnambulant) child that’s disturbing me, I will remember this lesson.
I hope I can measure up to this “Daddy”.
At the same time, the picture of a beautiful child, befuddled by autism, makes me frustrated.
With all our “science”, we understand so little.
At least with dementia in the elderly and not so “old”, one can say “they had a life”. With this child, and too many others, they have been truly robbed.
Instead of Gooferment wasting money on things of dubious value, I wish they robbed me, and all of us, so that I could set the priorities for funding research.
As much as wished for a cure for my wife, I much more wish for a cure for this little girl.
Kudos and BZ to whoever this “Daddy” was. You’ve taught me a lesson.
# – # – # – # – #