Any parent will tell you that flying with children is not always an easy or pleasant experience. Trying to keep them sitting in their chair when what they really want to do is run around, or trying to get them to sleep when they don’t want to, has it’s challenges.
These were just some of the things Shanell Mouland feared when she boarded a plane with her 3-year-old daughter Kate. Kate has autism and it is difficult for her to sit still. So when a businessman sat down next to Kate, and the little girl immediately began rubbing his arm because she liked his soft jacket, Shanell braced herself.
She was expecting the usual polite but irritated look. However, Eric Kunkel reacted differently. He put away his work and played with the youngster for the entire flight.
Shannel would later blog about the kind stranger’s actions writing, “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.” Shannel detailed in her letter, titled “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly”, how traveling with her autistic toddler can often be difficult. But thanks to Eric’s simple act of kindness, Kate had her “most successful plane ride, yet”.
Eric’s kindness not only made a lasting impression on Kate and her mom, it’s made one on everyone who hears their story!