I recently went on vacation with my wife and three kids. The destination was Orlando, and we had the Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, and Disney World in our sights. But first, we had to get there.
My wife travels a lot for work, so we utilized some miles for tickets for myself and our two youngest. The catch was we were on a different flight. Boise to Seattle, Seattle to Chicago, Chicago to Orlando.
We made it all the way to Seattle before things went south. A winter storm hit Chicago, and our flight was delayed, and we were going to miss our connection. So my nine-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son sat next to a pillar and snacked on some granola bars while I waited in line to see if we could get booked on a later flight to Orlando. I struck up a conversation with the lady standing in front of me, and as we chatted, we overheard one of the agents say “ all flights into Chicago are canceled.”
The woman standing next to me said, “Well, that stinks. but there are worse things.”
I nodded my head in agreement, and said, “going hungry.”
She said, “Having no water.”
“Not having a home.”
“Or a job.”
We continued the back and forth while a man in his fifties, lit up the agent who was trying to help him, all because he was going to make it to the Caribbean a few hours later than planned.
Finally, we were both called up to the desk. The young agent who was helping me spent 25 minutes looking through options, had to make a few phone calls, and after ten more minutes, we finally had a way to get to Orlando. But it wasn’t going to be pretty because a lot of other airports were being affected by weather and few flights had enough room for three passengers.
I walked over to my kids and said, “Well, we're going to make it to Orlando, but not till tomorrow.”
With tears in his eyes, my son Josh asked, “Are we going to miss going to NASA?”
“No, but here is what we have to do to make it.”
I explained that we had a 5-hour layover in Seattle, a flight to Las Vegas, another 4-hour delay and then a redeye to Miami where we would have to race to make a connection to Orlando.
I smiled and said, “There are worse things though.”
“Like what?” asked my daughter, Olivia.
Without missing a beat, Josh said, “Not having a house.”
I smiled and said, “Or not having money to buy food.”
To which Olivia continued the game with, “Or not being able to go to Orlando at all.”
The scenarios continued as we walked to a restaurant to get some food.
With no changes to our new itinerary, we made it to Miami at 540 am the following morning. Running on little sleep, and feeling mildly grumpy, Olivia said to me, “There are worse things.”
We made it in time for the Kennedy Space Center and all things NASA, enjoyed a wonderful time as a family and made it home safe and sound.
But what a great perspective to have. There are always worse things, and to listen to my children rattle off scenarios and be grateful that they were on a trip that had delays and changes in plans was beautiful.
Every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister — so pretty much everybody — has the opportunity to focus on the negative or use challenging scenarios to give the children in their lives a different perspective. One that finds things to appreciate when situations don’t go the way we want, as opposed to dwelling on how bad we have it in any given moment.
There are plenty of things to get upset about; being a few hours late to a Carribean Island or a day late getting into Orlando sit pretty low on that list.
When it comes to day-to-day struggles like bad traffic or airline delays, someone always has a harder situation than the ones we're facing. It helps to keep that perspective.