Saturday, July 30, 2016

Turbulence - A lesson in perception


Perception is a very powerful thing. Two different people can experience an identical situation in completely different ways. I was reminded of this fact as we were returning from our recent vacation to the west coast.

We spent a wonderful week in the state of Oregon visiting family. The week was filled with many exciting adventures and new experiences for my two little girls. One of those experiences was the flight out and back.

My seven year old daughter, Ziva, had actually flown twice before. Once when she was six weeks old and again when she was one and a half years old. For all intents and purposes, this was her first plane ride....that she remembers anyway. This was the first ever flight though for my younger, five year old daughter, Siri though.

The flight out went great. The girls handled the airport and security like a couple of seasoned travelers. The flight itself went quite well too. They really enjoyed the thrill of the takeoff and the beautiful views while airborne. The same went for the return trip...except for the last half hour of the trip.

As we neared our home airport, the air began to get pretty choppy. As it turned out, our approach was through a couple storms working their way through the area. For those of you who may never have experienced turbulence, the intensity varies quite a bit. Mild turbulence is about like riding a boat across some small waves. Heavier turbulence is more like driving your car at 60 mph and then hitting a curb.

We experienced a little bit of the latter as we were nearing the airport on our return trip. It's far from the worst I've experienced. I mean, none of the overhead baggage compartments flew open. Let's just say there was quite a bit of bouncing around going on.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to my 5 year old during this bumpy ride. I was preparing myself to deal with a terrified little girl, but my preparation was unnecessary. Siri was having the time of her life! She thought all the bouncing around was the coolest ride she'd ever been on. Considering the most thrilling ride she's been on is a carousel, I guess that's not saying much.

My wife was sitting across the aisle from us with my 7 year old daughter. She, on the other hand, was NOT thrilled about the bumpy ride. It didn't help that she already had a nice headache going from the pressure change during decent. (I guess she's like me. I tend to get headaches now rather than ear popping.) In the end, she didn't completely break down...but she was close.

Perception played a major role. My younger daughter has no fear because she has no real understanding of the possible dangers - no matter how little the risk may actually be. My older daughter is now smart enough to understand that heavy blows to an airliner going 500 miles an hour at 15,000 feet has a bit of fear factor to it. Maybe she is just able to think out the whole "wing falls off - plane drops like a rock" thing.

I know I had a brief moment of panic myself, but it wasn't for fear of the plane falling apart. It was fear that one (or both) of my girls would fall apart. Most parents will understand that fear. It's quicker and less painful to crash and burn that to deal with a terrified child for 45 minutes. (Note: I have never crashed and burned in an airline crash - so it's really just an assumption.)

Needles to say, since I'm alive and well and writing this post, we survived the landing. Most of the passengers even clapped as we touched down...if that gives you any idea about the affect of turbulence on a variety of people. It was a good reminder of how people experience the same situation differently.

I have to sign off for now. The girls are ending their "quiet - rest" time. Naps are a thing of the past for them these days. I suppose I could have written this perception post about napping just as easily. Kids never seem to want to nap and many adults wish they had the opportunity to nap. What's sought after by one is avoided by another. Until next time....