Hello, This is Your Captain Speaking

Robert J. Doman, Jr.


Pilots in the cockpit during a commercial flight
Pilots in the cockpit during a commercial flight

“Hello, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard. We are presently flying at thirty-nine thousand feet on our flight from Atlanta to London. We are expecting a smooth flight and anticipate an on-time arrival in London at 10:05 PM GMT. We hope you enjoy your flight.”

“Hello, this is your pilot speaking. It appears we are now going to be a bit late; one of our passengers, a fourth grade teacher from Nashville, thought it would be a great educational experience for us all to see the snow on the Rockies; so we took a little diversion-well, actually a rather significant diversion. You might not have noticed the Rockies or the snow since the entire area was covered in clouds, but we would all agree that she is a very nice lady and was quite well intentioned. But we are now headed east, the weather is looking fine, and again, we’re sorry for the delay and will get back to you as soon as we figure out our new arrival time.”

“Uh, hello, it’s me again–your captain. We’re sorry but we lost a bit more time coming back from out west. The passenger in 5C thought it would be a good idea to decrease our speed and fly at a lower altitude. He just got his pilot’s license and he wanted us to follow the protocols he had been taught. Of course he was taught to fly a Piper Cub and has only soloed a few times; but he is a professional after all, and we didn’t need to pay for his advice, something about insurance, but that doesn’t matter. What a deal! I think we might have given the Donald a little scare when we almost knocked the top of Trump Tower in Chicago, though.”

“Well, it’s me again, your captain, and as I am sure you are aware, we did make a quick little unscheduled stop in New York City due to an overzealous air traffic controller who thought we should have originated our flight in New York, and you might have noticed that the ground crew took some time to unload our meals in favor of something they thought would provide us with better nutrition, but we are now back in the air and flying over Iceland and heading in the right direction. I have alerted the cabin crew, and we would like to offer you complimentary wine and free headsets. We hope you enjoy our movie, ‘Mission Impossible 5.'”

“Hello, this is your copilot. Our captain is being detained. I mean, he is… uh…on a potty break. We unfortunately are not going to make it to London. We were told by flight control that the nice young couple in 23 A and B thought we would be happier visiting Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower, so we are going to be accommodating, not rock the boat, so to speak, and fly to Paris rather than London. We hope you will not be inconvenienced and yes, I do realize that it already after 10 AM and that we are already over twelve hours late, and yes, I’m hungry too. Oh, and we do apologize for dinner, as you discovered, they not only removed all our meals, but replaced them with vitamin pills. But they did say that they had it on good authority that we would be better off with the pills They said that you might feel worse for a while, but that it was a good sign and you would be better off in the end. Some good news: the flight attendants tell me that they should have at least one of the lavatories back up and operating soon.

Please fasten your seat belts and remain in your seats, we seem to be experiencing a little turbulence.”

As absurd as this little vignette sounds, this scenario rather replicates the trip many of you are on. You came to NACD because we shared your vision and goals for your child. We had the same destination and created a course. You came to us so that we could pilot you through the storms and get you where you wanted to go. You chose us because of our track record, our unique history of success, our incomparable experience, our eclectic philosophy, and most of all, the tens of thousands of our children all over the world who are demonstrating that you can expect more, get more, and who are redefining potential. At NACD we have one and only one agenda, which is to help you reach your goals for your children. We don’t bring in a dozen folks and ask each to look at a piece of your child and establish their personal goals and incorporate their personal small bag of tricks. And we don’t have limited expectations based on relatively limited experience, funding, or perspectives. For over thirty years we have been gaining unique experience, knowledge, and insights, have been adding to our already over 3,000 techniques, and have continued to develop new tools as needed. We operate from a parent’s perspective, your perspective, which is essentially that we can never do this well enough or fast enough and thus are in favor and supportive of everything that works. Not everything, just everything that works.

Please help us do our jobs and let us help you coordinate the pieces and keep us going in the right direction. When you fly, your plane’s computers and pilot are making constant course corrections to get you where you want to go when you want to get there. Please communicate with our crew, your coaches, often so we can help guide you and keep us all on course. The more we veer off course, the less likely we are to get where you want to go. Get help, get good help, but let us help coordinate the pieces and keep us heading in the right directions. Your goal is our goal; your destination is our destination. We’re not here for the next few hours, the next month, or even just the next year; we’re here for the whole trip.

Please communicate with your coaches and with your very experienced pilots/evaluators and let us help you coordinate all of the pieces and help you reach your goals. You’re not another passenger on this flight– you are the one defining the destination, and our job is to help get you there. Good luck if you fly without a pilot. We hate finally hearing from a family after weeks or months, only to discover that someone has pointed them in the wrong direction. Communicate–we know how to fly the plane, we know what buttons to push and which ones not to touch, and who probably shouldn’t be in the cockpit. Choose the destination, but let us fly the plane for you. Piloting isn’t an easy job, but trying to do it without all the information or with others nudging the plane in another directions can make it impossible. Let’s get there before you run out of gas.

Our success is defined by only one thing–your child’s success.

Reprinted from the Journal of The NACD Foundation (formerly The National Academy for Child Development)

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 25 No. 3, 2012 ©NACD

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