Often the most miserable experiences become the best tales; the stories that can bind a family together with giggles and ‘remember whens’. Children especially love hearing stories of their worst behaviour when they were younger (and their parents’ accompanying embarrassment).
Below we share some families’ hilarious worst stories. There are a few common themes - travel (always prime territory for stressed, exhausted parents), family days out that don’t go anything like the plan and, well, bodily functions at inappropriate times (always a favourite with kids!).
Do any of these sorry tales sound familiar?
“While my husband was sorting out the car hire at Milan airport, I took the children aside and explained: ‘This is what’s going to happen: we’re probably going to get lost, Dad will shout about where we’re going and Mum will cry about Dad’s driving but we love each other and we’ll all get there safely and have a lovely time’. Later as my husband did a U-turn on a dual carriageway and I screamed in terror, a little voice piped up from the back: ‘Mummy, you’re a magic mind reader.’ That was our catch phrase for years.” Juliette
“The time I ran out of petrol after collecting the children, then aged five and three, from school and nursery and we had to walk single file (with bouts of carrying until my arms gave out) down a curving but busy country road to the nearest petrol station. Of course I’d forgotten my mobile. It was terrifying at the time. Now every day as we drive down the same road they say ‘we walked along here... and along here... and along here’.” Nancy
Disaster days out
“The time when the four kids were all small and we staying in a remote place in the Borders at Easter. We went for a drive to a scenic castle, but the mist came down, and a farmer roared up on a quad bike and shouted ‘don’t go over to the cliff edge’. It was like Scooby Doo. It got increasingly foggy and we were nervously feeling our way back to the car, when a massive Doberman bounded out of the mist, straight towards us. The three girls huddled round their dad, while my son, then six, made a run for it, into the woods, and I screamed as this hellhound chased after him. I ran in, grabbed my son, we edged out as it followed us, growling, and then we all got chased round the car till it finally gave up and let us get in it. Everyone was utterly traumatised, but now every time anyone mentions a scary dog, we go ‘Do you remember that time when...’” Flic
“One of our favourite family stories is the time we all nearly got eaten by lions at Windsor Safari Park when I was nine. We were the last ones into the enclosure. I remember my dad saying, ‘Get down behind the seat, NOW’. I remember seeing the blue car seat in minute detail. I know now that the lions had surrounded the car and were approaching. In my dad’s words, ‘They were about to crack the top of the car open like an egg and scoop us out.’” Jane
“We were on a holiday with three other families in Dorset. We decided to take a shortcut to the beach. Three hours later we finally got to the sand - having been chased by cows, navigated a bog (with mud up to children’s knees) and lost a child’s shoe. When we get together, the children love regaling each other with tales of the ‘walk of doom’.” Rich
“The time we were on holiday in Tenerife when my four-year-old son mistook the bidet for a kids’ sink. He turned on the tap and was pinned against the wall by the most powerful jet of water you can imagine. Poor kid was traumatised while the rest of us fell about laughing.” Jane
“We’d had a disaster holiday in Cornwall where my youngest, who was six months at the time, was admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis. My parents came down on a mercy mission to support my husband with the older two. On the last day of the holiday we were finally discharged and went for a pub lunch to celebrate. My middle daughter kept complaining that the fish and chips tasted yucky and I insisted she ate them. She was promptly sick down my Dad’s back and continued to throw up all the way home during the nine-hour car journey. The worst holiday has made our children very happy ever since.” Cath
“When my son, who was two at the time, did a poo in the holiday swimming pool. I hissed at my husband to ‘do something’ and he dived in and grabbed the thankfully compact poo and lobbed it in the bin without anyone else seeming to notice. I’ve never loved him so much. Now our kids say ‘you love daddy because he picked up Harry’s poo from the swimming pool’.” Jackie
“This was only last summer but it is already family legend. We went camping for the first time as a family in Scotland - a six-and-a-half hour drive with the car rammed so full, the kids could barely move. We arrive, pitch, sleep first night, have a fab day on the beach. That night we’re all jammed into the one ‘room’ in the tent. In the middle of the night my nine-year-old daughter spews everywhere. I’ve dealt with vomiting children in several interesting situations but the inside of a tent in close proximity to three other people with nowhere else to go, no cleaning materials and no washing machine was the worst. We packed up and drove all the way home. Longest journey for a day at the beach ever!” Judy
“Setting fire to the dinner table on Christmas Day. I was 13 and messing about with a candle and a paper hat, and the rest is history - at least to my sister, my father, two of my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandmother. My quick-thinking dad swiped the tablecloth up and took it outside and stamped on it. My children love that story now.” Samantha
“When my son drank his first Coke at a kids’ disco and went wild. He must have been about four. I turned round to see him with his dungarees around his ankles, wiggling his bare bottom at everyone with an ear-to-ear grin. He’s now 14 but we still talk about ‘Louis’s moon dance’.” Jaime