16/04/2015 17:55 BST | Updated 16/06/2015 10:12 BST

You Can't Take Your Children Anywhere

You can't take your children anywhereRex

Wherever you go, your child is almost guaranteed to embarrass the hell out of you. My friend has never recovered from the time her daughter embraced a homeless man outside the Co-op and yelled 'DADDY!'

Equally, the time I was standing in the queue at WHSmith and my son lifted my shirt up and shouted 'I can see your bottom!' in front of a group of giggling teenage girls will be forever unpleasantly branded on my mind.

The fact of the matter is, children are embarrassing. We've all experienced those excruciating tantrums in the supermarket and the playgroup.

It happens so often that parents soon learn to only take kids to a handful of tried-and-tested locations where outbursts of 'POO!' 'WEE!' and wild, uncontrollable screaming are tolerated - like the park, Big Boffo's Kiddie Barn and insane asylums.

Otherwise, you're flying by the seat of your pants – and who knows WHAT'S going to happen. Like Jason Bourne, you scan the exits, check the faces of passers by for signals of irritation, and pray to God they don't blow up when you're in the middle of delicate transaction (buying Tampax, flirting with a hot dad...).

But sometimes, you've got to get out of the daily grind or you'll go mad. Unfortunately, that can mean taking your child out of the one-mile radius around your house. Often you may have to venture to distant lands, take trains and buses, visit out-of-town retail parks and go on safari. These places are called The World, and there's a good reason it's not a child-friendly place full of plastic high chairs and understanding people.

Children are terrible in public. When they're not behaving like drunk chimps or mentally-ill lion cubs, they're losing control of their bowels, whining and causing public disturbances that would have the average adult bundled into the back of a police van.

So the question is – what's the most unusual place your child has embarrassed you?


On holiday in France my son showed me up during a karaoke version of Lana Del Rey's Video Games by grabbing the mic off me and changing the words to 'tell me all the things you want to do, Mummy did a really stinky poo.'


Oh, and then there was the time he turned to me during my Nana's funeral and said 'Can I play Angry Birds on your phone?' in front of my entire family and some priests.

Kids really don't care where they are, as long as they can do something to humiliate and destroy you. And it seems that when it comes to embarrassment, the world is indeed your child's oyster.

Here are just a few examples from some (anonymous) real-life parents...

'My daughter decided to have her first public tantrum at London Zoo, in front of Damien Hirst.'

'My son was recently called up to participate in his first school event, the harvest festival. He just stood there, picking his nose and eating it.'

'I was at a book launch, and my child kept pointing at the author and yelling 'DADA! DADA!'

'In the B&Q foyer, a poo fell out of my daughter's knickers. 'Everyone fell silent – it was like The Happening. We offered to clean it up but they insisted on doing it, and a couple of cleaners arrived to cone off the area.'

'My son embarrassed me on a cable car at Drayton Manor Park. He shouted to the other cable car passing the other way: 'Daddy's just farted!'

'My kid once shouted across Betty's (posh) tearoom in Harrogate: 'Mummy, have you done a wee or a poo?' And in town last week, he also rather embarrassingly mispronounced the African country 'Niger.' I really can't take him anywhere.'

'My friend's hubby once took their young son on a train. As a treat he got him some sweets for the journey.


Whilst chomping through them on the platform, he turned to his dad and said loudly: ' Are you really my Daddy, or just a man who buys me sweets?'


'I was doing a wee behind a bush on the top of a hill in Dorset and my daughter stopped a gaggle of hikers by telling them that I was doing a wee and not to go any further. I didn't see them and when I came out of the bush everyone was laughing.'

'My child turned on a hose and soaked everyone in an outdoor restaurant in Portugal. I've never seen waiters move so fast.'

And so it goes on. But remember – this isn't anything new. We were guilty of doing it to our parents, too, back in the day. One person I spoke to once guilelessly (and very loudly) asked for a ham sandwich in a synagogue.

But nothing quite beats this for a spectacular and exotic display of embarrassing child syndrome:

'My family was on a train in Sweden and I had been given beetroot for lunch. I didn't like beetroot. I wasn't feeling too good and when the man in the seat next to me opened his briefcase, I proceeded to fill it with a rather fragrant luminous pink "soup". He shut the case and no one on the carriage mentioned anything at all. Funny - my mum went a similar colour to the original beetroot. Thank God you can't smack kids in Sweden.'

So think of it as a Circle of Life kind of thing – and try to smile through the blushes when your child tries to humiliate you on holiday, on a cable car or in a hushed church.

You can always use that old chestnut: 'I'm looking after them for a friend'. Or if that fails, comfort yourself with the thought that since you had children, you can't really afford to take them to exotic locations anyway...

What's the most embarrassing thing your child has said or done?