Kids don’t always do well on airplanes.

To parents, this isn’t news; children often have trouble sitting still. Add in the obvious stress of flight, and you’re often left with a screaming, fidgety toddler.

This can be annoying for some adult passengers, and if you’ve ever been seated in front of a child on a red-eye flight, you know that it’s often difficult to remain patient.

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That’s why one mother was mortified when her toddler began harassing a “big, macho-looking” stranger during a long flight. While she tried her best to keep her child from misbehaving, she realized that the situation wasn’t exactly ideal.

But to her surprise, the stranger didn’t overreact. In fact, he even offered her son candy and gum to help him deal with the pressure in his ears during the ascent. He remained patient and kind, turning what might have been a painful experience into something else.

After landing, the mother couldn’t stop thinking about the experience, so she wrote an open letter to the kind man.

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Here’s the letter, in its entirety.

“We flew Westjet Flight #1221 from Fort Lauderdale at 9:30pm (arriving in Toronto past midnight yesterday) with a toddler whose only flight experience was the week prior.

“The moment I saw you (a big, macho looking guy in probably your late twenties), I was worried that you wouldn’t take kindly to and would be offput by sitting beside a small child. I was completely wrong, and for that I am so grateful.

“The seatbelt sign remained on for quite a good portion of our flight for turbulence, which meant instead of sitting and being comforted on mine or grandpa’s lap, he had to be belted in beside you instead.

“I didn’t get your name, but thank you so much for grabbing his blanket the numerous times he dropped it, half asleep. Thank you for making sure to point your cabin light away from him when he finally did fall asleep. Thank you for being kind and engaging him even though you weren’t obligated to do so. Thank you for offering him (and us) candy and gum for his ears. Thank you for letting him rest his little tired legs and feet on you. And thank you for offering to get down all of our overhead luggage so he wouldn’t be disturbed.

“Although my son is generally well behaved and quiet, I was anxious and concerned about how these first departure and arrival flights would go for him. People can be unkind and impatient, especially with small, overtired children.

“Thank you for making our flight experience a lesson in compassion and empathy for others. That little boy will grow into a man one day (hopefully like you) and he will get a lot more out of your simple actions than you realize. You will make a wonderful father some day if you so choose.”

“Love, An Anxious Mother.”

The letter quickly went viral, and soon, the stranger heard about it.

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His name is Ali Hyseni, and he quickly responded to the mother.

“It was such a pleasure to meet such a loving family,” he wrote. “Although he doesn’t show in this picture, the young boy’s grandfather should be the one receiving all this recognition. His patience and kindness towards his grandson were heartwarming…We should all strive to be like this man.”

It seems like there’s plenty of recognition to go around. Be sure to keep this in mind during your next flight!

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