Mom Writes Open Letter to Man Who Was Annoyed by Her Toddler on a Flight

Mom and blogger Stephanie Hollifield had a message for a fellow airplane passenger, and it's going viral.

airplane interior
Photo: abdrahimmahfar/Shutterstock

February 6, 2019

Flying can be stressful. Flying with a little one? Without your partner? Well, that's next-level challenging. Parents bend over backwards to ensure their little one is safe, happy, and calm for throughout a flight and grapple with feeling self-conscious that fellow passengers will be annoyed by their child's occasional tears or restlessness. For Stephanie Hollifield, who recently flew with her toddler, that feeling was amplified by the behavior of a male passenger. From the moment Hollifield and her daughter boarded the plane, the man was visibly annoyed. In an open letter to the "Gentleman on Flight 1451," published on Momstrosity, the blogger detailed her experience.

"I first noticed you when you sighed loudly as you laid eyes on me and my toddler boarding the plane," Hollifield wrote. "In a momentary lapse of judgement, we sat behind you. It was the nearest set of seats, and I couldn’t wait to put my child and our heavy bags down. From the over dramatic huffs and puffs you let out as we buckled in, it was clear that you were annoyed by our very presence. At this point, my little girl was laughing and playing, obviously too loud for your liking. I wondered if you had a bad day, or if this grouchy temperament was your normal behavior."

She elaborated that when her daughter had a tantrum, the man continued his "mutters of annoyance and looks over your shoulder. You even shoved the back of the seat towards us."

Hollifield said she apologized to everyone around her. "I almost started crying myself," she shared. "I was feeling shame and guilt for not being able to control my own child. I was at the end of my rope, but then, an angel to the rescue- the flight attendant came by and gave my daughter a cup and straw to play with."

It was then that her little girl relaxed. Hollifield noted: "Just like that, the screams stopped and my baby was suddenly content. The kind attendant told us, 'It’s ok! Flying is tough on everyone, and you are both doing great!' Somehow, her kindness calmed my baby. Somehow, her simple words made me feel better. She was right. We were doing great! We were doing our best, and that’s as great as it gets."

To the not-quite-a-"gentleman," Hollifield wrote, "The problem wasn’t with us; it was with you."

After all, "while children can be terribly inconvenient now, they will run the world when you are old and grey," she observed. "Kids can be annoying and downright obnoxious, but they are also innovative and brilliant."

She suggested that if someone "can’t muster up a smile and a hello, then simple silence will do just fine." Hollifield's bottom-line: "This world certainly has enough negativity without us adding to it, and just maybe the kindness you give out today, will be returned to you in the future."

Since being shared on Momstrosity's Facebook page on Sunday, February 3, the post has wracked up nearly 2K comments.

One commenter wrote, "Next time offer the Benadryl to the annoyed passenger and let your daughter be. He's had decades to learn to deal with his emotions under stressful circumstances, she is still learning self-control. One of them was being a brat and it wasn't your child." Another shared, "I have flown several times by myself with my child and I too experienced lots of these same things. Being a single mom I didn’t really have another choice. I wanted to give my daughter experiences introducing new culture and exploring new parts of the world. I try not to let the stares or sighs overwhelm me, because like you said my daughter is a gift."

With hope, Hollifield's viral letter will serve as a reminder not only to this "gentleman" but other travelers that parents flying with their L.O.s are doing their best and deserve compassion.

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