"You do realise your kids have shoes on."
I glanced up and looked slowly from the speaker, a hotel guest in her mid-forties, to my kids, aged three and five. The daggers shooting from her eyes in a clear mark of disgust.
Admittedly, they were chasing each other around a couch in the hotel lobby, my eldest taking the occasional short-cut over the cushions to leap at his sister, catching her in fits of giggles. Filled to the brim with excitement, they’d finally glimpsed the waterslides they’d been dreaming of, only been told to hang on just a little bit longer. Only until we could check in and drop off our bags. After a long day of travel their pent up energy was bubbling over.
Frozen, I weighed up the options for my reply. Apologise or admonish? Discipline or defend? Flight or fight?
I slowly returned my gaze to her, and calmly replied, "yes".
Inside I was raging. What she didn’t know, because how could she, was that these same kids had been little champions on the flight. We’d carefully prepared for every step of the way. My five-year-old coaching his little sister through each part of the airport process: first drop off our bags, second get through security and immigration, then the first bribe of the trip - a pre-boarding visit to McDonalds. The anticipation of the impending plane ride and fully loaded iPads were enough to get them through boarding procedures, and their backpacks filled with snacks and surprises meant the flight was mostly uneventful. Just as every parent hopes for!
The cracks started to show as we joined yet another queue, this time to clear customs. The kids’ patience and mine starting to wear thin. A toilet run before grabbing the suitcases and onto the final stretch. An hour car ride was the final step. An afternoon spent poolside was within reach.