As the holiday season approaches we’ll all be pretty much doing our utmost to achieve a beach body instead of what we really ought to be doing. And “what is that Andi?” I hear you cry? Well, years of talking to other people in the early years sector enables me to highlight to you where we’ve all been going wrong all these years. Ever experienced the Santa Claus effect on holiday? You know, where kids seem to gravitate to you like mini heat-seeking missiles? I swear – they have such sophisticated olfactory systems that they can distinguish the everyday boring adult from the specialist early years variety. They have an innate ability to sniff out any adult who works with children from within 50 metres of their hotel balcony. It’s because we just smell a lot more fun to be around I think. Must be that playdough-y, Milton-y, scented nappy sack-y aroma we carry around with us. What you should be doing is acquiring (or fine-tuning) your child repellent skills. So I’ve gathered here every tip ever shared with me on how to prevent being surrounded by other people’s kids during the £5000 holiday you’ve saved up all year for to get away from all that snot, slaver and tantrums for a mere 2 weeks.
1. Do not under any circumstances make eye contact with any child starting right from the airport lounge as this shows to children beyond a shadow of doubt that you actually kinda like kids. You have literally just put a toddler target on your forehead and you. are. doomed.
2. Do not be tempted to smile at any child on the plane no matter where they are on the cuteness scale – unless you want to be tortured for the entire duration of your flight that is. Especially relevant for any child sitting immediately in front of or behind you. They will think it’s perfectly okay to play peekaboo with you for the next 5 hours or to stick their head through the gap between the seats and get snot on your shoulders and to run their sticky little fingers through your hair trying to pick out their cheesy wotsits. What is worse is their parents will think it’s ever so endearing how tolerant you’re being and now you’ve marked yourself out as an obvious person of interest. Yup, they’re hoping you’re staying in the same hotel as them because they’ve found themselves somebody who will watch their little dear around the pool area as they get a bit of R&R sunning themselves and drinking sangria while you daren’t put your book down for even a second in case their kid slips and falls into the deep end of the pool and you can’t even swim but no kid is drowning on your watch right?
3. Don’t ever say to a parent “aaah s/he’s cute” unless you really do genuinely want to hear everything about that child right from conception because you will have to pretend you are interested for the whole time and quite possibly every single time you bump into this parent. Be prepared also to endure thousands upon thousands of photos on their smart phones. And never ever volunteer that you work in early years because you will be asked for advice on everything from teething to toilet training and everything in between.
4. For reason number 3, avoid getting into any lift with a young child inside. You will effectively make yourself a captive audience and you will have nobody to blame but yourself. And if you happen to be a woman [sigh] parents will assume that as you have no children of your own with you then you really, really want children of your own and you are really really insanely jealous of other people who do have their own and of their apparent ability to breed which makes them either (a) feel sorry for you or (b) feel more than a bit superior. But how often have you heard people say “he’s cute and all that but it’s nice to give them back at the end of the day…?” Well, I’ve heard it a million times and I’ll probably hear it another million times yet. Not everybody wants children. Especially if you’ve ever experienced working with them. Okay?
5. This one’s a bit extreme but I’m told it’s very effective and may well prevent having to go through steps 6 – 9. (Don’t shoot the messenger). Go down to children’s eye level and say “hi” and smile at them just that little bit longer than feels comfortable. I’m told that they won’t like it. They won’t like it at all and they won’t like you. They won’t ever want to come near you again. My advice is to avoid this if at all possible but if you’ve failed to observe tips 1 to 4 then you may need to resort to such drastic tactics but really, it’s your own stupid fault and quite frankly you deserve a fortnight of purgatory in my opinion. A word of caution though: I suggest you practice this technique first with a friend. They will tell you at what point your smile looks sinister and menacing which shows you’ve gone a bit too far and quite beyond what would be considered appropriate for somebody who’s supposed to be suitable to work with kids. The other reason I’d avoid it is because there’s probably a very fine line between putting a child off you and making the child burst into tears and you want a screaming kid in a tiny lift about as much as you want a hole in the head.
Now, if you can’t bring yourself to do any of these things because they just go against your kind and caring nature then just see how long you can put up with parents parking their buggies up next to you while they “you-don’t-mind-if-I-leave-Jayzee-here-for-a-couple-of-minutes-while-I-go-for-a-quick-wee-do-you-he’ll-be-no-bother-he’s-fast-asleep-and-will-be-out-for-the-count-for-a-good-hour-yet-and-won’t-even-notice-I’ve-gone” and come back smashed 3 hours later, during which time you’ve had to change a soiled nappy and give them their formula because they’ve been screaming for, like, ages and nobody’s come back for them and it’d be heartless to just push the buggy somewhere else and leave it there. Wouldn’t it? Then. Then. You might just be tempted to resort to tips 6 – 9.
6. It’s your own fault you’re at this stage because I did warn you, I really did. Now you’ve only got a few days of your holiday left and you need to salvage the rest of it cos it’s another 359 days to your next annual leave. The next steps are fairly straightforward and may well transform your whole persona but you’re never likely to set eyes on these folk ever again so… Go to any beach-side shop that sells all the usual tat. You need stick on gems the kind you decorate Christmas ornaments and cards with. Stick one beneath an eyebrow, another on at least one nostril, another on the corner of your top lip and one between your bottom lip and chin. If you can get one to stick to your tongue all the better, even if you only get it to stay on momentarily as you flash a mouth-wide-open-toothy-smile. Works even better if you flash it Dad’s way apparently whether you’re male or female.
7. Mum not stopped baby Benedict from toddling over your way yet? Use good old stereotyping to its fullest advantage. Stick temporary tattoos around your neck, one on an inner thigh and another (for the ladies) just peeping out of your bikini top. Just enough to keep onlookers guessing about what the full thing looks like. Now you instantly look like a foam party kinda party animal rather than a Disney princesses and pirates kinda party animal. Don’t worry, you’ll still tan. There’s no way you can be suitable for supervising kids now right?
8. Kids still sitting waiting for you on your sun lounger covering it in dripping ice cream and crushed crisps while you’re at the bar getting a fresh cocktail? Darn it those parents are just about as desperate for a holiday as we are. Right. Now. If you’re a woman you need to sunbathe and walk about topless because, let’s face it, it just doesn’t seem as acceptable as it used to be years ago does it? (I don’t know what happened there, it just did). If you’re a man, you need to get yourselves one of these.
9. Buy a packet of cigarettes (even if you don’t smoke) and/or a packet of condoms (even if you don’t…) and keep them on the table beside your sun lounger for all to see. Now you really are quite the hedonist and no child is safe to be around you. Job done. Now enjoy the one remaining day of your holiday.
But none of this would be necessary at all if somebody would just skip straight to tip 10 and invent child repellent spray. Not a water squirter kind of thing coz kids like them too much and you’ll never get rid of them even if you turn the nozzle from fine mist to jet. I mean a spray that’s the opposite of Dettol all-in-one antibacterial spray. You know, something that maybe makes them unwell so they have to stay up in their rooms or even something that just makes them sleep all day. This way, the pool never gets shut either while they get rid of floating poos and soiled nappies. I guarantee you will become a multi-millionaire overnight and early years practitioners the whole world over who like to get a break now and then will come together in solidarity and petition for you to be canonised and you will get your own Saint Day and Jeremy Corbyn will give us all another day off work when he becomes Prime Minister (yaaaaay!) and you will be revered for ever and ever and ever. The end.