My angel leapt from the seat of a No. 1 subway train in New York City, seconds after my stroller lurched sickeningly into the gap between the subway car and platform and got stuck there.
My weary brain barely had time to register panic before this stranger sitting across from me sprang up, grabbed the base of the stroller, wrenched it out of the gap and silently helped me, my baby and 3-year-old onto the platform. I sputtered "thank you," my knees shaking as the train doors closed.
We hear so many stories of parents and kids who get an unwelcoming reception in public, thanks to people who seem to want the world to be a child-free zone. But I believe that for every one of those, there are 10 people like my subway angel; people who keep an eye out for moms and dads, who are quick with a helping hand or an understanding smile. They've got our backs.
Shanell Mouland met one of these angels recently. In an essay that originally appeared on her blog Go Team Kate and was reprinted in The Huffington Post, "Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C," she thanks the man who sat next to her on a plane and sweetly chatted with her 3-year-old daughter, who called him "Daddy" for the duration of the flight. Mouland's daughter has autism, and she writes she was so relieved not to have to repeat the apologetic phrases that she often has to drag out in public.
The post has been shared more than 3,000 times. For parents of special-needs children especially, simple kindness can be a revelation when you are used to having to explain your child's behavior to an often unsympathetic audience. But it's true for all parents — a little help or friendly word from a stranger goes a long way.
Have you encountered one of these parenting angels? Has a stranger given you a helping hand or an encouraging word when you needed it out in public? Would you like to say thank you? We want to hear about it! Share your stories and photos with us on Facebook, on Twitter with the hashtag #kindnessofstrangers, or click on this link to email your story to us. You may be featured in an upcoming story.