A little boy waited patiently, while people took their luggage from the overhead compartments as we waited to disembark from our flight home after our summer holiday.
That eager and articulate little boy, had been sitting in the row of seats in front of me and was about 4 years of age.
He looked up at his Daddy and with great enthusiasm said…”Daddy I was so good for the landing, wasn’t I?”
The Daddy in a reprimanding voice replied…”What about the other two and a half hours?”
I’m trying not to hear myself in those throw-away words when, in an instance it brought me back 17 years, to travelling with my own young children. It wasn’t easy being tired. It wasn’t easy coping with long queues and waiting around. And it certainly wasn’t easy ending a holiday and returning home to face the reality of daily life.
So I’m not in a position to judge that dad, with two young children aged around 4 and 2.
But I wish I could have reversed time and shared the insights I learned too late… and helped that dad realise that his words have POWER… power to communicate, to build confidence and build self-esteem or the very opposite!
So I’m trying not to say how in an instant, he lost a wonderful opportunity to communicate a message of encouragement to his little son.
And I’m trying not to say how affirming it could have been for that little boy to be told, by the most important teacher and male role model in his life, that yes indeed he had put a lot of effort into being a really brave young passenger and handled the landing very well.
And I’m trying desperately not to think how that little boy only thought of the upset he caused during that flight and never got to appreciate his bravery or self-efficy*.
But I wish…I could have told that dad to ignore the sliding up and down of the window cover, or to accept the constant moving around in the restrictive seat, and not worry what the other passengers would think.
And I wish I could have told that dad to acknowledge the probably HUGE bravery it took his little boy to cope with the noise and speed of an airplane landing.
And I wish I had the courage to have told that dad to “JUST LOVE” his little son, together with all his boyish giddiness and to bend down to his son’s eye level or lift him up to his own eye level and tell him with all his heart, what an amazing and resillient young man he thought he was and how proud he was of the amount of effort his little son had just put in!
And most of all I wish I had turned to that little boy myself and told him that he really ‘was so good for the landing’ and that maybe he might even one day be a pilot himself!
*(Self–efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment).