While flying from Dubai to London with the boys (and no DH) on Wednesday, it occurred to me that this is a task most mums of small children would dearly love to outsource.
Just imagine: if you hired a chaperone (and I think you can when they reach a certain age), you could come on a later flight by yourself, watch a whole movie, read, sit and think, drink wine and eat the meal, including the chocolate, in peace. Your clothes would remain stain-free, your sanity intact and you might even get some sleep. Remember those days of stress-free, champagne-swilling travel?
So without much further ado, here’s the advert:
Job description: Team leader needed for temporary work in a cramped environment. Candidates must enjoy travel and be willing to work long hours, sometimes nights, in pressurised conditions
∙ Expert planning skills required, including the ability to pack for six weeks and two continents
∙ Must always be on time and have the ability to negotiate airports/airport toilets/fast food outlets with military precision. The candidate must also be able to speed walk, while dragging two small children along, to the furthest gate, without stopping at Duty Free
∙ Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Situations such as a sick child, delays or a lost favourite toy should be viewed in a positive way
∙ Ability to multi-task essential. Must be able to handle several difficult situations simultaneously, eg, consoling a distraught child who got stuck in the toilet, while stopping his brother waking sleeping passengers and balancing three meal trays
∙ Must be able to keep a smiling demeanour for fellow passengers while practising above-mentioned skills in conflict resolution. Must also be able to withstand withering looks from those seated nearby
∙ A basic aviation knowledge, so as to answer questions such as ‘What makes the wind move?’ and ‘What’s that noise?’, is a plus – as is the ability to tackle technical challenges such as operating the games∙ Must be willing to be immobilised in a tight space for extensive periods of time, to dive for flying objects, to crawl on the floor for lost items and make multiple trips to a bathroom the size of a phone box (being double-jointed would help)
∙ Must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and preferably have a third or even fourth arm to carry all the luggage at the end
Dressing/grooming: In addition to following the airline’s dress code, it is expected that, for the duration of the shift, the chaperone will have makeup applied, not wear elasticated clothing of any kind and not develop crazy eyes
Previous experience: None required. On-the-job training offered on an exhausting basis
Possibility for advancement: None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years without complaining so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you
Overtime: Responsibilities also include rising at 5am the following morning with your jet-lagged, overexcited, overtired travellers
Benefits: Overseas travel and the joy of the airport reunion