A Free-Range Soul (So to Speak)

Hi rhnstbndee
Folks! I loved this response to the post a few days ago about strangers helping out with tantruming toddlers! This comes from reader Kristi Blue. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: We were stationed in Germany when I gave birth to my twins in 2002.  I am twin, whose mother is a twin, whose grandmother is a twin and whose great grandmother was a twin.  Five straight generations of twins, and from the moment we found out we were having twins, all I could think about was being able to fly home to my great grandmother and place those precious things in her arms.


Two weeks after they were born we received the call that she wasn’t doing well, and that if we were coming, it needed to be now.  My husband was training so unable to accompany us.  I boarded a trans-Atlantic flight with two nursing newborns and a heavy heart.  The kids both started crying at the same time and as I was fumbling, trying to comfort two infants in the limited space of coach, I see a pair of hands reach over the seat, take one of my babies, and proceed to walk up and down the aisle singing to her as I feed her sister.  It wasn’t until the third lap of coach that I got a good look at the stranger who had my baby.  He was the oddest little man wearing a wide lapeled suit coat, boots with heels and a pompadour, while singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  To this day, my girls still love to hear the story about the time James Brown sang them lullabies! – K.B.


42 Responses to A Free-Range Soul (So to Speak)

  1. Katharine Mckinney December 12, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    LOVE THIS! What a great story!

  2. FrancesfromCanada December 12, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Bet the babies weren’t the only ones listening. Great story.

  3. Nil December 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    What a great role model! I hope other people on the plane were paying attention.

  4. Lisa December 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Wow! So sweet.

  5. karyn December 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    this made me smile

  6. carriem December 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    I just had to comment, what a wonderful story. Good for her being brave enough to go on her own. If she hadn’t she would have missed out on two once in a lifetime moments.

  7. Janet December 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Wonderful story.

    And kudos to the airline who thought outside the “rules” and allowed a mother on board with two babies. I’d love to know which airline it was, because I’d fly with them just because of their ability to be flexible when the situation called for it.

  8. Ariana December 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I love this story!!

  9. atlmom December 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    That’s awesome. When I was on a plane with my newborn, I walked on the plane, and one of the flight attendants took my baby, saying she was in charge of the babies, she had him much of the flight. I was a little too tired to complain, but I thought, well, you know, where is she going with him? She really enjoyed holding him much of the flight. It was great.

  10. Selby December 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I love these stories and I love the comment made by one of the readers, “What’s going to happen – is the stranger going to parachute out of the plane with the baby?!”

  11. Pamela December 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    OMG I have goose bumps reading your story. You need a Life is Goot T-shirt with JB with a baby under each arm..

  12. Steve December 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Wonderful story:

    A glimpse of what heaven might be like – where strangers offer help when it is needed – where it is welcomed without question – where Trust is assumed – where Love and Kindness reign.

  13. Eleanor December 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Oh my goodness, what an awesome story!! XD

  14. Amy Johnson December 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    The “Godfather of Soul!” -Now we know where that came from ; )

  15. destiny December 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    that’s wonderful!

  16. EricS December 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    “Ooooooow! It feels good!”…don’t it? 😉

  17. Lori W. December 13, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    Stories like these are good reminders to the rest of us to step up and lend a helping hand when needed. Too many people are either afraid to interfere or too ready to criticize. Maybe we could start a new trend.

  18. Frume Sarah December 13, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    Of course, it’s only icing on the cake that the stranger was James Brown. The gem of this story, as any parent knows, is the willingness of a stranger to go out of the way to help someone in need. It’s really a lesson that each one of us can put into practice on a regular basis. People all around us are struggling in a myriad of ways. Imagine what an impact we could have if we acted in a similar fashion to this one kind person…

  19. Marlet December 13, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    What a great story. I have taken my children alone on flights a number of times and am always SO grateful for the angel passengers who offer to help. My four children are still young (ages 6 to 1), so I am on survival mode when we fly and not yet in a position to be too helpful to other parents. I cannot wait until I can be the nice auntie who helps out a stranger on a flight. I look forward to paying back that invaluable service.

  20. Samantha M. December 13, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    I’ve discovered that being an Australian living in the US makes it so much easier to help people for some strange reason we must come across as trustworthy or it’s somehow related to the Croc Hunter.

    I was on a plane with my husband and someone must have overheard us talking.

    I hear behind me “Ask her she’s Australian.”

    I turn around and there is a mother with a baby in a carrier and a young boy of about 6. The baby had just thrown up on itself and she needed to go and change it but didn’t want to take her son into the tiny restroom she asked me to watch him for her. We had a great chat for the rest of the flight.

    I’ve been asked to take photos of people, twice, while visiting Chicago with much the same “Hi, Your Australian would you take our photo” and people handing me their expensive cameras or phones. I find it strange that people will trust me before they will trust the “locals”. the funny thing is I found the people in the midwest to be nothing but helpful and kind to me so I can’t figure out why other midwesterners won’t trust them.

  21. Susie Reber Orr December 13, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Just today at the grocery store there was a two year old in a grocery cart. Mom left her wallet in the car. She asked me if I would mind watching “Cooper” while she ran out to her car to retrieve her wallet? Cooper and I had a great time.

    I remember a flight from Montana to Palm Springs for Christmas when my son was about 6 months old. We volunteered to be bumped to get the free tickets, knowing we would be at the airport all day with a 6 month old! Well, the gate attendant took Sam and practically had him all day! He had such a wonderful nature, still does, and she just loved playing with him.

  22. nevrandil December 13, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Great story. 😀 Makes my heart jump with joy. Hope she made it in time and her Grandma either got to see her babes or she got better. (Do we know?)


  23. ManInATrenchCoat December 13, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    I tried to take a stranger’s baby one time, but it didn’t turn out nearly as nicely as that story.

  24. Maureen December 13, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    This is such an awesome story. I remember it in a comment thread from a few days ago. Thanks for featuring it!

  25. pentamom December 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Wow, you were really lucky. Just think of what might have happened. You would never forgive yourself if James Brown had secretly fingerprinted your child, hacked into a government database to track her down, and come to your home to harm your child.

    {Someone had to say it on this thread.}

  26. Lisa December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I LOVE this!

  27. Christy Rachelle Ford December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Love this story, so very much.

  28. Tony Dubovsky December 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Dear Lenore Skenazy–I’m sending you this via the blog–to tell you how very much I Iiked your column in the Forward–the one about your mother (and your mother’s house!) in Chicago… Very affecting… In fact, I almost always like the things you write in just this way (even when they’re not so seemingly personal)… so please do carry on…!

    How shall we put it–you’re a domestic treasure–how ’bout that?

  29. Headless Mom December 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Great story, Lenore. Thanks for sharing it!

  30. Corinne Dobson December 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    that is beautiful, heartwarming, and awesome all in one.

  31. Laura December 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    What a great story!

  32. Jespren December 14, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    @ Samantha M, it’s the accent, accents give most Americas a case of the warm fuzzies. I know lots of ppl who will ask a foreigner for something over a local *just* so they can hear the sentence or two of accent when they get a reply. Not that travel agencies and ads don’t make a really effective case for all Australians being happy, smiling, trustworthy, ‘come-be-part-of-the-family’ people…but, seriously, it’s the accent. 😉
    Every call center I or my friends have ever worked at have daily conversations around who got to talk to the coolest accent that day.

  33. g.m. December 14, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    As a stranger (and a single mom) who similarly helped a struggling mom on a flight (including lots of ‘hyper-active toddler herding’ at the transfer airport), I can only be happy to know how much we can all help each other. There is so much joy in getting to know a little one — especially when ‘we’ aren’t the ones looking after them 24/7!

    Parenting was *never* designed/ had *never* evolved to be undertaken by only 1 or 2 adults: Raising and taking care of children becomes a greater pleasure when supported by those around us; friends, family, neighbours and kind strangers.

  34. wellcraftedtoo December 14, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    What a lovely story–It really does take a village.

  35. Mr D. Cage December 14, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Hi Admin, it’s urgent. Please get in touch with me as soon as you can.

  36. Robert December 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  37. Lazy Gardens December 15, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Offering to help someone with their children was one way I used to get to board early 🙂

  38. Misty Olen December 16, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Such a great story. Thank you for sharing!

  39. Jim December 16, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    Hearing about a disruptive child on a plane always reminds me of this joke.

    “As a crowded airliner is about to take off, the peace is shattered by a 5-year-old boy who picks that moment to throw a wild temper tantrum. No matter what his frustrated, embarrassed mother does to try to calm him down, the boy continues to scream furiously and kick the seats around him.

    Suddenly, from the rear of the plane, an elderly man in the uniform of an Air Force General is seen slowly walking forward up the aisle. Stopping the flustered mother with an upraised hand, the white-haired, courtly, soft-spoken General leans down and, motioning toward his chest, whispers something into the boy’s ear.

    Instantly, the boy calms down, gently takes his mother’s hand, and quietly fastens his seat belt. All the other passengers burst into spontaneous applause.

    As the General slowly makes his way back to his seat, one of the cabin attendants touches his sleeve. “Excuse me, General,” she asks quietly, “but could I ask you what magic words you used on that little boy?”

    The old man smiles serenely and gently confides, “I showed him my pilot’s wings, service stars, and battle ribbons, and explained that they entitle me to throw one passenger out the plane door on any flight I choose.”

  40. Kristin December 20, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    what’s amazing to me is that she was able to get the babies’ passports in time to travel to see great-grandma.


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