A few years back we took a trip to St. Louis and took the kids up in the Arch. We were all having a great time until it came time for the trip back down. For those of you who haven't been up in the Arch, you get to the top in a car that resembles an egg. These cars are so small that you feel like you're hunched over and your knees pretty much touch your neighbors. Once the cars reach the top you get out and walk up a flight of concrete steps, going down is the same process. The day we went it was quite busy and there was a line to go back down. The man in front of us was cut-off from his group so he waited at the front of the line to ride down with us (the cars hold five and there were only four of us). The line behind us was long and the steps to get to our 'egg' were quite plentiful so when it came our turn to go down I picked up my three year old and ran down to avoid the one - step - at - a - time steps that they typically do. You guessed it, my independent three year old did NOT like being carried down the stairs. She proceeded to scream and bellow at the top of her lungs "I do it myself".
The screaming went on for pretty much the whole time it took for the cars to make it to the bottom, unload and return to the top. Since the Arch is made entirely of steel and concrete there was a lot of echoing going on, I'm pretty sure they could hear her all the way down to the bottom! As her mother I was VERY embarrassed and would have liked to have crawled in a hole at that point. Fortunately for me the people directly behind us were a group of older women who could appreciate how 'independent' she was and thought the whole episode was adorable. The poor man who was going to have to ride in the car with my screaming child didn't say a word the entire time. As the cars were unloading and we were preparing to make our way into them, the gentleman turned to me and said 'please let her get in by herself'. Since I had learned my lesson I did let her get in by herself we actually had a very pleasant ride down.
The whole day could have been ruined by this 'melt-down' but for the kindness of the women behind me as well as the patience of the man in front of us (I could tell he didn't think it was adorable) helped me put it in perspective. The story has actually turned into one of our favorites trip memories. Luckily I did have my wits about me enough to take her picture so I could show her when she got older just how wonderful she was on that day.
As I'm out in public and I see other unruly children I try to think about that day and realize it's not a reflection on the kids or their parents. I try to show the mother a little bit of patience and try to help out the situation any way that I can, sometimes a little bit of empathy is all it takes. While I wasn't on the plane and I don't know how awful it was I do think that a little bit of kindness to that women from strangers could have gone a long way towards making the situation a little bit easier.