Even before I had children myself, I was never bothered by the presence of small children in airplanes. If they cried, so be it. At least it was a sign of life and liveliness.
Now, as a father of a seven month old, seeing small children while I travel has a new impact. I can only call it an ache. Something wells up inside of me, and I see something of my son in these children riding in strollers or cradled in their parents arm.
Especially at this early age, children are so like each other. Some of the behaviors (watching the people around them) movements (the light hold they have on their parents with one arm while the other arm floats free, ready to grab hold of anything interesting, especially paper) are more identical than different. And so when I see a small child here in the airport, I see my son.
And at that very moment, when the appearance of one is most like the other, it is the profound difference that makes me ache, because that child is not my son, I miss my son, I hope to see him soon.
So, it's a joy to see these kids in the airport, a healthy reminder, but I ache to see the one that is my own child.