You turn around in the luggage queue and we briefly made eye contact. That was just before another coach load of 18-30 club holidaymakers spilled into the already busy and humid airport ready for their late night flight back home. We broke eye contact as I helped Josh usher Dylan closer into the protective circle that we were enclosing him in, away from the bustle and the noise.
The queue moved slowly and Dylan being tired and disorientated wants to wander out of our protective hold. He wants to sit down and rest his weary legs. The chairs are on the other side of the packed waiting room; Fine for a teenager usually but Dylan’s bright red ear defenders suggest to you that Dylan is not a typical teenager. Again you turn and look and I smile as I meet your glare. You break my eye contact without response and turn back to your conversation with your companion.
The waiting to travel is always long and appears even more so when homeward bound in the middle of the night. The children are slow and tired. The flight is practically boarded by the time we find our seats. I see our seats are directly in front of yours.
The flight home is long and uncomfortable. The babble of aisles of rowdy boys quickly quieten as they all fall asleep. I know Dylan rocked on his chair and that disturbed you resting you head on your tray. I know that he giggled at times and that you heard him loudly ‘shuuush’ in response to my visual request to him to sit quietly. See, he was so tired and so anxious, it was too quiet on the plane and he can’t sleep with the light on; you were reading by your overhead light for the first 2 hours of the flight and he doesn’t understand that he should be trying to sleep even though his seat was illuminated by your bright reading light. By the time you decided to switch your light off and rest your eyes Dylan had passed the stage of sleeping and we were going to remain awake, regardless of how tired he was.
I promise you he did his best to be quiet. He giggles and rocks when he is nervous and I desperately tried to quietly reassure him so as not to over stimulate his already highly anxious state.
Please believe me when I say he did so well, despite him hearing your mumbled comments and disgruntled huffs at him moving the tray on the back of his seat with his rocking. He didn’t respond or allow you to heighten his anxiety further.
I did my best to reassure him he was doing great when the unkind or unhelpful comments you made about him smelling were made loud enough for him and others around us to hear.
I was so relieved and so proud when those aeroplane wheels hit the tarmac back at Gatwick; Proud of Dylan’s resilience and relieved that you and I could get on with our separate journeys. I praised Dylan openly and loudly in your presence. He did do so, so well, he did amazingly at self soothing and calming himself to be able to get through the three hour flight. The work for Dylan to manage that took more effort and drew on lessons which have been learned over many painful hours to formulate a smooth and socially expectable journey. More time and effort invested that you would ever realise or probably ever appreciate.
If you come away from three hours sitting behind Dylan in an enclosed space and all you have to complain about is the rocking of the seat in front of you – which is only affecting you because you are leaning on his seat – then I am glad. Dylan worked so hard and the journey went so well that we are not going to let you or your unacceptable intolerant ways ruin it for us.
In fact I’m glad he blew off at you.
Oh and I hope you lost your luggage.. 🙂