Well there’s a surprise. Yesterday I went out for lunch with my children and once again didn’t get to eat what I ordered. I’m sure this will sound familiar to many of you. Sometimes I don’t get to eat what I ordered because my children get ‘food envy’ and want to share mine; sometimes I leave mine to help them with theirs and then it becomes cold and unappetising. On this occasion I didn’t eat what I ordered because J asked for a pepperoni pizza wrap and then found it too spicy. I’d ordered a tuna cheese melt (I think on some subliminal level I order something fairly innocuous on purpose) and so, of course, we swapped.
That was after it had taken twenty minutes to even GET the food ordered. Firstly, J wanted to pay a pound to enter a draw to win a remote-controlled aeroplane. ‘Let’s order food first and then we can.’ ‘Can I have a go, Mum?’ ‘Yeees, like I’ve just said, we’ll order food and then you can.’ ‘I want to win that plane, Mum.’ (Deep breath) ‘I know you do, Sweetheart but it’s after one, let’s get the food ordered first.’
Cue the other two. M: ‘Mum, I want chips.’ ‘OK, Sweetheart, you can have chips.’ ‘Chips and pasta.’ ‘OK, let’s see what they have.’ ‘But I want chips and pasta.’ ‘Give me a chance to look at the menu and then I can see if there’s pasta.’ Z: ‘Tips, Mummy?’ ‘Yes, Sweetheart, you can definitely have chips.’ J: ‘Mum, what are you having?’ ‘I DON’T KNOW I HAVEN’T HAD CHANCE TO LOOK AT THE MENU YET!!!’
We had gone out with my dad who’s visiting from Spain but as always, the entire meal and conversation was punctuated by cries of, ‘Sit up straight!’ ‘Please eat with your mouth closed!’ ‘You can’t need another wee, you’ve just been for one!’ ‘Get up off the floor!’ ‘Right, no dessert for you!’ ‘Just eat two more.’ ‘We’re not going outside until you’ve finished.’ ‘Mind your drink!’ ‘Put that down.’ ‘Be careful with your fork!’
After finally managing to eat something, if not what we wanted, my dad and I ordered coffee. I know, I know, it was frivolous to indulge in such luxuries and I should have quit whilst I was ahead because there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I would get to drink it whilst it was still hot. Why? Because Z, who’s potty training, chose the precise moment it arrived to need a poo. A poo the size of his head.
Pooing on our toilet is still a novelty to Z but pooing on a toilet in a different place, well, that was something to be savoured and he wasn’t about to rush. He sang, he chatted, he danced, he winked at me, he clicked his tongue, he swung his legs and, as a grand finale, shouted, ‘POO COMING, MUMMY!’ at the top of his voice. Obviously this was followed by a round of applause and high fives. Then we wiped bottoms, flushed the loo (three times just to make sure), did the whole hand washing routine…ten minutes later I sat down to my lukewarm cappuccino…only to have the three of them wanting to share the froth.
After five minutes of feeding it to them on a spoon and ‘accidentally’ getting it on their noses instead, I drank my flat, tepid coffee and felt myself lucky that at least mine didn’t have half an amaretto biscuit floating in it…unlike my dad’s. I didn’t feel quite as lucky that it was MY amaretto biscuit that had been snaffled by J before the cup and saucer was even placed on the table but at least he’d chosen my dad’s drink to dunk it in. Small mercies and all that.
My cake, which I was already sharing with my dad, was then shared between M and Z who’d finished the sweets they had bought with great deliberation from the vending machine and like vultures hovered around me seeing what else they could cadge. J and M at least asked first but Z, like a baby bird in its nest waiting for worms, just opened his mouth and waited for me to deposit tasty morsels into it.
After eating the wrap I didn’t order, half of my chips (the kids ate their own then started on mine), a fifth of the cake I did order, drinking cold caffeine (cold caffeine is better than no caffeine) minus the biscuit, it was finally time to ask my favourite question of all. No, not ‘Where’s the Valium?’ or ‘Is it wine time yet?’ or ‘Excuse me, I don’t know who these children belong to. Could you take them away please?’ Of course not (that was just my internal dialogue. I don’t THINK I said any of them aloud, anyway).
No, I uttered my all-time favourite phrase when I eat out with my children, ‘Could we have the bill, please?’