To the “Big, Macho Looking Guy” Who Sat Next to My Toddler on the Plane

macho looking guy

Flying with with little ones can be a stressful endeavor for any mother. Keeping them comfortable and content on land is hard enough, so a whole new set of challenges presents itself when you’re six miles high, cruising through the clouds.

From using that two-square-foot excuse for a bathroom to perfectly positioning their favorite blankey under their heads during a turbulent ride, the challenges are truly endless. As this dad with a restless baby and this mom of twins who almost got kicked off the plane know perfectly well, the passengers sitting next to you can make all the difference in your flight experience.

One woman who identifies herself as simply an “anxious mother” was particularly concerned when she saw that her toddler was to be seated next to a “big, macho looking guy” in his late 20s. Her initial instinct was that this burly dude was NOT going to take too kindly to sitting next to a little kid with lots of needs.

But as we all know, looks can be deceiving. As the plane ride progressed, the worried mom realized her initial perception of this young man couldn’t have been more wrong.

Since much of the plane ride was disrupted by turbulent winds, the “fasten seatbelt” sign stayed on for the majority of the trip. That meant instead of being allowed to cuddle in his mom or grandpa’s lap, the toddler had to stay seated next to the muscly stranger.

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And the chain of events that unfolded during that time just melted this mama’s heart.


From picking up her son’s blanket each time he dropped it to offering him gum to pop his aching ears, this gentle giant went above and BEYOND to make sure his little partner in flight was taken care of.

The boy’s mother shared the heartwarming story with Love What Matters, and it has since ignited a viral storm of positive reactions from parents across the country who have been touched by it too.

Read this grateful mama’s beautiful ‘thank you’ to the most tender-hearted “macho man” she’s ever met:

“We flew Westjet Flight #1221 from Fort Lauderdale at 9:30pm (arriving in Toronto past midnight yesterday) with a toddler whose only flight experience was the week prior.

The moment I saw you (a big, macho looking guy in probably your late twenties), I was worried that you wouldn’t take kindly to and would be offput by sitting beside a small child. I was completely wrong, and for that I am so grateful.

The seatbelt sign remained on for quite a good portion of our flight for turbulence, which meant instead of sitting and being comforted on mine or grandpa’s lap, he had to be belted in beside you instead.

I didn’t get your name, but thank you so much for grabbing his blanket the numerous times he dropped it, half asleep. Thank you for making sure to point your cabin light away from him when he finally did fall asleep. Thank you for being kind and engaging him even though you weren’t obligated to do so. Thank you for offering him (and us) candy and gum for his ears. Thank you for letting him rest his little tired legs and feet on you. And thank you for offering to get down all of our overhead luggage so he wouldn’t be disturbed.

Although my son is generally well behaved and quiet, I was anxious and concerned about how these first departure and arrival flights would go for him. People can be unkind and impatient, especially with small, overtired children.

Thank you for making our flight experience a lesson in compassion and empathy for others. That little boy will grow into a man one day (hopefully like you) and he will get a lot more out of your simple actions than you realize. You will make a wonderful father some day if you so choose.”

An Anxious Mother

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.