Young children do have a tendency to be embarrassing - if it's not full blown tantrums in the middle of John Lewis' kitchenware department, then it's the pointing and asking, at full volume, "why is that person SO fat?". Perhaps they're just trying to get their share in early before the teenage years when of course they will mortified on a daily basis by our very existence.
My kids racked up a few more points in the embarrassment stakes this weekend. Having travelled to see friends near Ilkley we were wondering how we would spend the Sunday morning. Our hosts suggested a walk - a perfect idea given they live in the midst of spectacular countryside, but already I was feeling nervous.
"A walk! I don't want to go on a walk. Walks are boring." This from my 4-year-old son who spends every waking moment hurling around like a firework inadvertently let off indoors. However, he has a mental block when it comes to the idea of an actual 'walk' with such annoying details as 'direction' and 'purpose'.
"Well," I said, trying to save face with our friends, whose children were already happily getting ready for the excursion, "it's not really a walk - it's an adventure!"
Oscar looked at me with a face that said "Amateur! Did you really think I would fall for that one?" and continued to flop on the sofa in the manner of recently shot game.
So, I did the only thing I could think of to rescue the situation. I compiled a nature walk booklet.
Yes, OK, this does sound over the top, but I have a reputation to uphold here. I mean, my kids are supposed to like this whole outdoors thing Goddammit, and no-one was going to say otherwise.
So, I gave each of the four older children identical folded pieces of paper, with a list on one side to tick off when they saw things, and a second list of items to collect. This was a little tricky as I hadn't been on the walk before but my friend Jane gave me some ideas.
Within half an hour Oscar was bounding along with a huge grin on his face and actually uttered the words "this is the best nature walk ever!"
The fickle little....
You just wait until he's 14. Revenge will be mine.