By Bindu Adai-Mathew
As I approached the airport gate with my daughter, I was well aware of the admiring looks and grins I received from my fellow travellers who were staring intently at my daughter. She was perched on my hip with her arms wrapped around my torso, hugging me like a koala bear and looking as cute as a koala bear. Awww, isn’t she adorable! Look at the full head of black hair!
Moments later they laughed as she wiggled out of my arms and began dashing around the waiting area. Awww, look at that ball of energy! Isn’t she so much fun!
But very soon those looks of admiration turned to sympathy as I chased after my daughter as she darted to and fro through the waiting area, maneuvering quickly and expertly around the feet of other passengers. Aww, poor Mom…wouldn’t want to be her…
And just twenty minutes later, those admiring/sympathetic glances turned to looks of trepidation and fear as I and my little ball of energy walked down the aisle of the plane, making our way towards our seats. Eyes averted as soon as they saw me, almost afraid to make eye contact. Every time I paused to readjust my purse, diaper bag, or my daughter, I could visibly see passengers stiffen or cringe as they feared I would be taking the empty seat next to them. Seconds later, their shoulders relaxed and they smiled in relief as I continued making my way down the aisle.
I smiled as I noted their reactions. I couldn’t blame them. After all, they had just watched my daughter exert energy that could dumbfound and amaze the most skilled of scientists. But they didn’t know what I knew…that my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, and I had all prayed…we had prayed fervently in the weeks before my trip. Praying for a safe journey, but equally, that my 1 ½ year old would be calm and well-behaved as we travelled alone, just her and me. But I wasn’t naïve. I knew the only way she’d be calm and well behaved would be if she were asleep. Fast asleep.
As I took my seat, I smiled as reassuredly as I could to the unlucky passengers who were seated next to us who were doing their best not to look as if they had just been served a death sentence.
Even as our flight departed, I prayed, hands folded ever so reverently, that my sweet daughter would get sleepy…very, very sleepy…and very, very quickly… My prayer had been answered on my departing flight of this trip, but then again, I had booked the flight to be at 6am, so that had obviously helped. But this flight, this returning flight home, was the one I had really been worried about it since it neither coincided with her nap time or her sleep schedule. As I completed my prayer, I glanced down at my daughter, whose face was turned towards mine as she observed me ever so quietly and curiously as I had prayed. She then smiled at me ever so sweetly. I smiled back. Yes, my prayer was already being answered. She was calm and docile and seemed ready to fall asleep once we had taken off and the cabin lights had been dimmed. Little did I know she was actually giving me a look of sympathy for what she was about to do. It wasn’t the calm I had been hoping for…but rather, it was the calm before the storm.
The first thirty minutes was challenging. As soon as we had taken off, she started. Started what you ask? Started. Everything.
She tried to do anything and everything her little body could do in the few inches of space she could work with. She began by climbing…climbing what you ask? Me. She climbed on me, around me, like I were Mount Everest. She poked, prodded, pummeled me…she jabbed, jostled, and jutted me. You name it, she did it.
I took those first thirty minutes as a necessary evil. She’s just tiring herself out, I assured myself. She’ll fall asleep…any second. After all, I had prayed, I reminded myself and look upward at God for another quick reminder. I plastered a smile on my face as I awaited the sleep I had so fervently prayed for to overtake her.
An hour later, she was still wide awake, and if possible, even more energetic. Being confined to such a small area seemed to be the equivalent of harnessing nuclear power. I glanced upwards and said another quick but sincere prayer: Ahem, Lord…sorry to bother you, Lord. But it’s been 1½ hours now. You see, um, my flight is half-way over now, and Ava is still awake. Wide awake. Please help. Please.
So I waited. And I waited. And while I waited, I felt like dynamite had exploded in my lap.
She wanted her bottle. She didn’t want her bottle, she wanted to throw her bottle. At the passenger seated next to us. At the passenger seated in front of us. At the window. At me.
She wanted to stand. She wanted to sit. She wanted to bounce. She wanted to do all three. At the same time. Soon enough my arms felt like the uneven bars and my legs felt like a trampoline at a gymnastics competition while she hung, swung, twirled, and twisted.
She wanted the window shade up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Followed by a fascination with the tray table…which she, too, wanted down. Then up. Then down. Up. Down. Then further down.
She wanted her book. She wanted her doll. She wanted her ball. She wanted to throw her ball. At me. At the passenger seated in front of me.
Through it all, I juggled her expertly with my two hands, somehow keeping her entertained while preventing her from injuring herself or anyone seated next to us. The woman seated in front of us, I’m proud to report, left with all of her hair intact despite Ava’s multiple attempts to grab it.
Another 1 ½ hours later, as the plane began to make its initial descent, I was able to distract and entrance Ava with the millions of twinkling lights that shone from houses and light fixtures from miles below. For the first time, she was quiet and calm. She gripped my arm as she looked through the window and then back at me, smiled, and then returned to staring. I, too, joined, her, enjoying the sweet calmness of the moment while staring mindlessly at the night sky.
Twenty minutes later, after the plane landed with a gentle thud on the landing strip, I noted Ava was still unusually very quiet. I wondered what she was staring at now that we had landed, knowing she was no longer transfixed by the sight of those millions of lights in the night sky. When I finally glanced down, her head was cocked to the side, nestling gently against my chest. Her thick eyelashes resting like tiny feathers against her cheeks as she slept the sleep of the innocent .
Now??? I thought to myself. She falls asleep now?! I glanced up to see the smiling face of the passenger seated next to me as she looked at Ava and then at me. “Now that wasn’t too bad!”
I threw her an incredulous look and then turned my gaze upwardly as I asked, “What happened God? Didn’t we have a deal?” But as I did, He immediately reminded me of the inexplicable, uncharacteristic amount of patience I displayed as I handled her like an expert juggler the last few hours. The last few hours, which, honestly, went by much faster than any three hours I had ever spent on a plane. I was tired but not exhausted. I felt expended but not overwhelmed. I smiled. I got it, God. Sometimes I realized, He calms the storm…but more often, I realized, He calms me.
He Calms Me by The McKameys
Troubled waters came my way; the angry storm grew near
I prayed for God to speak the words to make it disappear
It seemed the waves would not obey the master’s call for peace
But then the Lord spoke to my soul; reminded me He had control
And said this time His words were meant for me
Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me
Sometimes the storm still rages on but I feel the sweetest peace
It’s such a joy to know that my Lord knows just what I need
Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me
Circumstance may overtake and bring me to my knees
But when I feel I cannot cope with this life’s troubled seas
I call on him whose voice can still much greater storms than these
His words bring peace into my soul when He says child I’m in control
And with one touch He calms the storm in me