Pregnant mom breaks down when her toddler has meltdown in airport—strangers have unexpected response

"I will never forget that moment."
February 7, 2018 4:42 pm Last Updated: February 7, 2018 4:42 pm

Air travel is stressful enough already, between the security checks, flight delays, and crowded airports. But as any parent will tell you, it’s much worse when you’re traveling with kids.

Naturally, babies and toddlers aren’t the best at flying. On long, crowded trips they can get fussy and start crying or throwing a tantrum. And not only do their poor parents have to work to calm them down (on top of everything else) but they have to deal with all the unwanted attention from their fellow passengers, who don’t always take kindly to the noise.

It can be a nightmare—but it doesn’t have to be.

That’s what one woman learned when she saw an overwhelmed mother at the airport terminal—and now her story is going viral.

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Beth Bornstein Dunnington, an actor and writer from Waimea, Hawaii, was recently traveling through LAX, preparing to board a flight to Portland.

She was at the gate as two other flights were preparing to board. But of all the passengers, one caught everyone’s attention: a young child, who was making a scene.

“A toddler who looked to be 18 or so months old was having a total meltdown, running between the seats, kicking and screaming, then lying on the ground, refusing to board the plane,” Dunnington recalled.

(Flickr/brewbooks/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The boy’s mother was clearly overwhelmed. She was young, pregnant, and handling her son on her own.

Outmatched by the toddler’s public tantrum, the mom was simply defeated.

“The mother finally sat down on the floor and put her head in her hands, with her kid next to her still having a meltdown, and started crying.”

The meltdown was in full view of the other passengers—but instead of getting upset with the mother and making things worse, they did something incredible:

Several strangers on the terminal stepped up to help the mom out.

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A group of six to seven women, including Dunnington, offered to help the struggling mom out, taking her load off in different ways.

“I sang ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider’ to the little boy … one woman had an orange that she peeled, one woman had a little toy in her bag that she let the toddler play with, another woman gave the mom a bottle of water. Someone else helped the mom get the kid’s sippy cup out of her bag and give it to him.”

None of them knew the mother, or each other, but all of them selflessly worked together to calm the child down.

With the child (and his mother) now relaxed, they all parted ways and went on their respective flights.

“After they went through the door we all went back to our separate seats and didn’t talk about it … we were strangers, gathering to solve something.”

(Flickr/brewbooks/CC BY-SA 2.0)

But the incident left Dunnington feeling inspired.

“It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world,” she wrote in a Facebook post that’s been shared over 10,000 times.

“I will never forget that moment.”