Traveling with kids can be stressful. Young kids, especially, can struggle to sit still or be quiet during flights and they can be a disturbance to passengers around them.
Shanell Mouland from Canada was worried about the reactions of people around her when she boarded a flight to Orlando, Florida with her 3-year-old autistic daughter, Kate.
Flying with a 3-year-old is stressful enough as-is, but things are even more challenging when your 3-year-old has autism and can’t sit still well.
Shanell was ready for the criticism, the dirty looks, whatever might come her way. As she watched people walk past her aisle in the airplane, she hoped a grandma-looking woman would fill the empty seat beside them. Instead, a businessman sat down.
Naturally, Shanell worried that he would be annoyed the whole flight but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Eric Kunkel may have looked like a typical work-focused businessman, but he didn’t act like one. In an open letter to him that Shanell wrote for the HuffPost, Shanell recalled how Kunkel amazingly entertained Kate for the whole flight!
In the letter, “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C,” Shanell wrote:
“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.”
Shanell went on to say, “You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that ‘smile’ that I despise because it means; ‘manage your child please.’ You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored with you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about.”
Kunkel didn’t just touch the hearts of Shanell and Kate, but through the letter, his kindness reached millions of people.
Check out the interview below: