Today we went to Chessington World of Adventures. They have a lovely little area where you buy tiny tubs of nectar for £2 each. Then you walk through and feed the birds. A bit like Mary Poppins. I looked in and saw all these families happily posing for photos with teeny tiny birds gracing their arms. They were smiling. It looked perfect. I imagined the instagrams I was going to take of my two beautiful babies covered in wild birds. We entered in. Camera at the ready, and my phone in my other hand so I could take an amazing Boomerang...then the sh*t hit the fan and the following occurred.
Five birds flew at my seven year old. Who screamed like an eagle was about to rip her face off. Not only did she scream but she started jumping around. "HELP ME! GET THEM OFF! HEEELLLP ME!". But she couldn't drop the nectar through fear. So I grabbed it out of her hand and gave it to my husband who looked equally terrified. My son then also felt the fear and as a bird landed on his nectar he threw the tub across the floor also screaming. Everyone was screaming. OK not everyone. All the other families looked elegant and gobsmacked. Whilst I forced my husband to have a photo as he said through gritted teeth "it just f*cking bit me". We were 'that family'.
We've all been there haven't we? We have all been in a seemingly simple scenario that should have gone to plan but goes tits up. A meal where one of your kids sits down and immediately spills a whole jug of water. A trip to the shops where your toddler refuses to stop crying and lying in the magazine aisle. A plane journey where you're the family that has the children who scream for four hours straight. And it is soul destroying. The sweaty top lip. The glance between you and your other half which you both know means "WHAT THE F*CK DO WE DO NOW?". Followed by the apologising to anyone in the vicinity of the area. As you walk away backwards slightly bowing. In this case in a giant bird cage.
So I think we should all make a deal. That all parents across the world should, when faced with a family who is totally falling apart, do the decent thing and throw a little smile their way. Show some solidarity. Think of the the moments when you were 'that family'. And yeah it's OK to feel a little bit smug deep down inside that you are not 'that family' this time but you should also feel the fear that next time. It could be you. I'm going to print this photo off of my husband as a reminder that behind some smiley instagrams. There are screaming children and bemused strangers. Oh and also to NEVER try and feed the birds again.