Sarah Stultz: If you have a moment to be kind, take it

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

For a moment, it was like I was watching my life in slow motion. My husband and I, and our son, Landon, had arrived at the Baltimore airport and were ready to check in our suitcase before our flight back to Minnesota on Sunday. 

My husband was handling the suitcase and getting it checked, while I was trying to coax Landon into standing patiently in line — offering to get him a reward after we made it through the line and the security check.

We had only been in the airport for a few moments, and I was quickly reminded why we don’t often take flights to go on trips. Traveling with a child with special needs can be exhausting. 

Landon pulled at my hand, trying to break free, motioning toward the benches on the other side of the room, when all of a sudden he successfully pulled his hand from mine and took off running.

Landon has always been what I classify as “a runner.” 

It used to be commonplace when he was 4 or 5 to know several other parents in the same boat as us, but as Landon has grown older, we don’t often find other parents of 10-year-olds who still have the same challenge. 

He simply has not grasped the idea of danger or of always looking before he crosses the street, even though we have tried to teach it to him hundreds of times.

When he was younger, I used to rely heavily on a stroller to keep him safe in crowded places, but he has outgrown that as well.  

I watched helplessly as Landon slipped further and further away from me that afternoon, and I remember audibly saying aloud, “Oh my gosh,” as the distance between us grew, and I tried to catch up with him unsuccessfully. 

Then as quickly as he took off, he slowed down and walked over to the benches he had seen earlier and sat down.

I breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed his hand, and we returned hand-in-hand to the line where my husband was finishing the check-in procedure. 

As I have reflected on that quick moment of panic, I’ve asked myself what I would have done if I had witnessed another child do the same thing and seen his panicked mother struggling to catch him. 

While no passenger stepped in to lend a hand to us that day, it would not have been difficult to hold out a hand to block him or slow him down.

Just like I struggle, I try to always remember that everyone else is facing their own battles I know nothing about, so when we see an opportunity to help, we must take it. 

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Dalai Lama

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.