We could all learn a lot from children

The Good Life

Children melt my heart. I think we can learn so much from their innocence. The past few days I’ve had a few encounters with kids where I was struck by their innocence and their intelligence at the same time. Like many young people, I spent some Saturday evenings and summers babysitting and I loved it. The young boy I minded became like my little brother and I learned a lot from him. To this day, I love seeing him and how much he has grown up.

Last week I travelled to Bucharest in Romania for five days. This is my second time visiting Romania and I really love the country. Each time I go, I learn more. My flight from Bucharest to Malta was delayed by several hours. I got the notification early in the day thankfully, so I had more time to explore Bucharest. The Parliamentary buildings are spectacular, the second biggest in the world after The Pentagon in the United States.

I didn’t know what the procedure was for a late flight, I had checked-in online but didn’t know if I still had to show up at the airport at the same time. I took the risk and waited, thankfully my boarding card still allowed me through the gates later that day. To some, this could be common sense, but I had the fear of a red circle with an ‘X’ appearing on the screen as opposed to the green circled tick. I went directly to my gate, which was packed with people fed up waiting. I was still about an hour and a half early so I decided to go and get a coffee. I was flying with Wizz Air, a Hungarian budget airline similar to Ryanair. Unlike their Irish competitor, they do not show the gate closure time on the boarding card. I went back to check the gate around 45 minutes before the new departure time. The gate was completely empty. I panicked, thinking the flight had departed. As my breathing escalated, a Romanian woman appeared with a little girl. She was in the same situation as me.

My default reaction in these situations is first to panic. I go through a process of telling myself that I won't be able to come to any solution in this state and go through the procedure of calming myself down. Breathing, naming the things around me and also thinking of my loved ones and what they would do if they were in the situation. I think of the worst possible scenario and tell myself that it is solvable. In this case, I have missed a flight, but I can get the next one back. Although it would sting my pocket, it is not the end of the world. This is my method. The woman beside me proceeded to shout partly in English, partly what I assumed to be in Romanian. Whatever works, but I felt bad for the little girl who was now panicking. She was maybe three years old, but she knew something wasn’t right.

It was in the few seconds of calming myself that I realised the gate had more than likely changed. I left the woman to check the board. The gate number had changed from 113 to 12. The relief that washed over me was unreal. I could hear the woman in the background who was now shouting at the security guards. I understood her frustration, but she really wasn’t helping her case. I felt nervous approaching her, she was hysterical. The little girl was pulling at my heartstrings, visibly upset and scared by the woman’s outburst. I went up and tried to explain the gate had changed, which directed her shouting towards me.

“Please just come with me,” I said, as calmly as I could.

No moving. I pointed at the board and motioned for her to follow me.

“Come,” I said again.

She followed, still presumably swearing and telling me in broken English that the gate was the other direction. I didn’t respond.

“Malta, gate 12,” I said, pointing at the board.

“Stupid f**king airport,” she said, and took off in the direction towards the new gate.

I laughed as I watched her. I know she was relieved. I saw her later at the gate and the little girl was happy again.

More commotion ensued when we eventually got on the plane. Our flight was overbooked by one seat. Two women who presumably had the same seat on their boarding pass proceeded to shout at each other in Maltese. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but eventually one woman left the plane.

A young male voice spoke up. “You shouldn’t have shouted at that lady like you did, how would you feel if she was shouting at you?”

I can only assume that it was mother and son. The little boy’s question got no response. I thought about how brave that little boy was in standing up for what he knew was right despite the power dynamic of the older figure.

I think we can learn a lot from kids, sometimes I believe they are smarter than us adults. In the case of the young girl, perhaps she was too young to speak up, but she still knew something wasn’t right. The young boy voiced his opinion and I think the silence he received spoke volumes. I know tensions were heightened, the flight had been delayed hours, but shouting and taking our own frustration out on others really doesn’t achieve anything only further upset.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a third year journalism student in University of Limerick


A snapshot in time or life through a lens?