Yesterday I wrote about an amenity kit incident onboard my Alitalia flight from Rome to Los Angeles. Something happened later in the flight that I am struggling to process.
First, let me preface this story by saying that it seems almost too convenient for me. It seems like payback. But it’s not.
The gentleman who admonished me for touching his amenity kit was traveling with his wife, daughter (about 5), and son (about 3). The kids were a little rowdy prior to takeoff, running around the cabin and making a lot of noise. During the flight, however, they were mostly quiet.
But we touched down in LA at a remote stand at the far end of of the airport, about a seven minute bus ride from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. It appeared no ground staff was prepared for this and we ended up waiting 45 minutes for a jet bridge.
Not surprisingly, the long wait was difficult for the two children. First they ran around the cabin, then they started fighting with another. Finally, they started wailing.
The man tried to calm his son down, offering him his mobile phone and attempting to hold him in his lap. But the boy would not stop crying and squirmed his way out, thrashing about and hitting and kicking his father.
Suddenly, the man grabbed his son and started shaking him, yelling at him to be quiet. The kid cowered like a dog who has been abused and ran over to his mother. He continued to bawl.
A few moments later, he walked down the aisle where his father picked him up by the head (one hand on each side) and forcefully sat him down in a seat. It made the child cry even further.
Mind Your Own Business?
As a father of a 11-month old, you can imagine how difficult this was for me to watch.
I also realized my attitude was already biased, still stemming from my pride over the amenity kit incident. Was this skewing my perspective of the incident I had just witnessed?
Here’s what I know — I consider the way he treated his son child abuse. And I say that as someone who embraces corporal punishment as a form of discipline. But discipline must be out of love, not anger. This man was tired, embarrassed and exasperated, but so visibly angry. And there is quite a difference between spanking and shaking or pulling up a child from his head.
I’m not oblivious. I realize this piece may give the appearance of a self-justifying hatchet-job. But that is not my intention. How would you have handled this? Let it go? Say something?
I said nothing.
Augustine will be three before I know it. Maybe he will struggle with behavior too and I will struggle with how to discipline him. For the child’s sake, I hope that his father will reconsider the way he admonishes and corrects.