Something happened last week. Something truly amazing. Something I didn’t envisage happening for at least several more years. It all started when the Frenchman blew one of his tyres out on the way to work. He managed to make it the last few kilometres to park up just outside the kitchen (and we wonder sometimes where the minis get their stubbornness from!!). All well and good except he would need a lift back in the evening when his shift finished.
Thankfully he was on an early shift that day and due to finish up around 6. Now when a chef tells you he’s due to finish up at a certain time, you should add at least an hour on to this. So at quarter past 6, I braved the elements, loaded the car up with the protesting minis and headed off into the absolute shit storm that was Storm Abigail. Seriously, what a bitch!What’s her deal? We were all loving the mild, relatively dry winter and now its suddenly orange weather warnings this and closed roads due to flooding that. How very rude!
Anyway I digress. We rocked up to the Frenchman’s hotel (where he works, not his actual hotel) at 7, just as he was clocking out. The minis had of course fallen asleep on the way in so bedtime was effectively shagged. Then there was the small matter of dinner. 7 is normally feeding time at the zoo. We pondered on this for a time until the littlest mini woke up, wailing, which is how she always makes the transition from sleeping situations to non sleeping ones. This woke up her sister who upon recognising where she was, begin instantly looking for chips. We brought them for chips at the hotel ONE damn time, and every time I’m dropping the Frenchman off or collecting him, it’s to a chorus of “Chips?Chips?Chips?” from the eldest mini. The wailing from her sister got louder, threatening to drown out Abigail’s windswept protestations.
We decided to take a chance and eat in the bistro. I had vowed to never bring the minis to a restaurant again ever since this fiasco but we felt on this occasion, it was the lesser of two evils. I took a deep breath as we were shown to our table. The place was packed. I felt many eyes upon us as we took our seats. I was steeling myself for the all too familiar assault on the senses but then that something amazing happened. The girls were calm. There was no climbing all over the seats, or wandering off to introduce themselves to their fellow diners. They sat and coloured. Actual honest to God colouring!!!!!! No flinging the crayons at the other tables. No eating the crayons. No dipping them in their drinks. No, actually using them for their intended purpose.
When they didn’t colour, they sat quietly and drank their orange, taking breaks to survey the scene around them. The Frenchman and I exchanged glances, wondering if the Miwadi had been spiked. The chips arrived at the same time as our main courses. Normally this would have meant I would have had to endure countless queries as to the location of their food and grabbed at least one of them out from under the table while we waited but not this time.
This time we all ate our food in peace and quiet. Myself and the Frenchman even got a chance to have a conversation. Imagine!!Time to exchange pleasantries with your other half instead of wrestling control of the table back from boisterous, loud and half crazed little monkeys. We even got to order dessert! And, not a sniff of the iPad to keep them entertained. It was luxurious and a sign that we are finally moving towards the fabled pastures of greener parenthood-where calm family excursions out become the norm, not the dream.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the time will come when I’ll long for the days when I could scoop them up in my arms but having 2 kids under the age of 3 is a major adjustment to one’s social surroundings. Looking after small ones is a tough and often lonely endeavour, especially when you’ve no family in the immediate area and friends are a good half an hour’s drive away. There have been many nights when I’ve been sat at home utterly exhausted and on the verge of tears from what the day’s parenting has taken out of me. That’s why evenings like the one we had last week are so magic. They show that the light at the end of the parenting tunnel is real, and not just a train that’s going to mow down what’s left of me. The occasional chance to rejoin the human race, to sit and talk and watch the world go by is something truly special and I look forward to more nights like this one!
So don’t lose heart, parents who dare not set foot inside a restaurant with your manic little ones. If that magic evening could happen to us, it could happen to you and it could be a lot closer than you think!