From the mouth of babes

by J. Pond

This story is part of our 'Travelling with Kids' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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Two mouths hanging open, two red faces looking at the floor, an angelic beaming smile under a halo of golden curls... No it’s not an advert for a new M&S treat, it’s the faces of the parents whose precocious little darling has come up trumps yet again! The innocence of the young smile betraying what was going to happen next.

Yes every parent has been there once their child can speak, that knowing feeling in your stomach that something is going to happen but powerless to stop it. On this occasion everyone following the family along the tunnel to board the plane bound for the Spanish Costa Brava heard a little innocent voice say to the stewardess sweetly "can we sit upstairs and look out of the window please?"

The stewardess, with her coat hanger smile fixed in place, replied abruptly "I am sure that you are thinking about buses because planes don’t have upstairs" before giving the child a saccharine, sweet and highly patronising smile. The youngster, probably about 6 years of age, then remarked loudly and with the most distain possible "are you new at this? Haven’t you been on any other planes before? The planes that we have been looking at out of the window in the waiting room all had an upstairs!"

You could see all of the other parents cringe knowing what was coming next – the tunnel vibrated with the voices of other children with their battle war cry of "It’s not fair! I want to go on a plane with an upstairs! I want to sit by a window!" Buggies were banged against the heels of the person walking in front as parents frantically tried to calm their offspring before boarding the flight. Other parents pulled on children's hands to make them stop, stand still and be quiet. Fun bags that had been given to the children to play with on the plane were dropped, thrown or swung around like windmills and released like weapons of mass destruction. Chaos erupted! The stewardess looked on in alarm – none of her training on how to detain an irksome passenger had quite prepared her for this. Another stewardess rushed out to help get everyone boarded and stow away all of the buggies and other child paraphernalia taken as hand luggage.

Still smiling sweetly, angelically looking up at the harassed stewardess the instigating child said "Do you know jack as well?" The poor stewardess, barely able to maintain her smile and greet the other adult passengers now passing the family by to board the plane, grimaced as if she knew what was coming next. The child opened her mouth and said "your just like the training teacher at school and daddy says that she knows Jack!" Everything went quiet and then erupted in laughter whilst the red faced parents lead their child away to sit down.

Prior to takeoff you could see the fellow parents on the flight silently muttering and praying thanks to the higher being that determined that today it wouldn’t be their child. But ever aware that next time it just might be...

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