What the hell do you say to that when you unpack what feels like your life onto an overbooked train on route to London.
I have done more of my fair share of travel with and without children and I know not everybody wants to play “peep eye” or dodge quavers being thrown by my one or two year old. I am the first to take my kid or kids to the corridor on a train or plane as soon as they make a noise or risk being a pest. However today they hadn’t even done anything before the lady looked at me and said more than once “Do I have to sit next to the children.” I am not sure which one of us felt more awkward. She was mortified, she was clearly looking forward to a quiet train journey with a book. I was equally concerned, knowing I was facing two and a half hours of trying to stop my kids licking her.
Now when it comes to chaos mid travel my kids have done it all: ripped ear rings from fellow passengers. Spat food onto businessmen. Befriended air stewardesses and some stuff, well I can’t even publicly admit to for fear of the PC brigade coming down on me like a tonne of bricks. (Just imagine your two year old seeing a character from a different walk of life for the first time and deciding at the start of a flight they can’t go anywhere without holding that persons hand and letting everyone know that’s your new friend. God I love him and his innocent quest for social inclusion). On this occasion I was praying to all my travel gods that today is the day my kids play ball.
So what do you do? Let your kids go wild to confirm every child hating suspicion your neighbour has? Or launch a full on charm offensive. We went for the later. Quiet chats. Croissants. Bananas. Eye spy. A Cbeebies relatively educational magazine. The baby flirted, smiling and gurgling. The toddler chatted and when he got fidgety we went for a walk and clambered around the empty luggage rack and corridor. (You have to let them burn of steam somehow).
After two and a half hours we reached our destination. Exhausted but ........ having successfully coerced the woman into playing with the children. Voluntarily. For me it was a small victory, but maybe we should have just moved seats from the outset. PS the woman in question is about to become a grandparent for the first time. I bet I see her in six months and she’s the first to jump up to help me. These kids, they do that to you!