It seemed a good idea at the time. A nice leisurely brunch followed by a stroll through town. Our mistake was in thinking this would be possible accompanied by a toddler. Our smiling, happy baby had recently morphed into a mini-beast and such outings were now a lot less relaxing than they used to be. And I had assumed it was the teenage years I had to dread.
All was going well (if you ignored the usual protest over the car seat) until we entered the restaurant. That was when the mini-beast decided she wasn’t going to go along with the plan. A shriek erupted out of her and suddenly she was stiff as a board in my arms, head thrown back, cheeks red and fists curled up, ready to fight. A waitress threw me a sympathetic smile as I attempted to look calm and collected. Grace under pressure must have been a phrase invented by the parents of toddlers. I kept my cool and made my way over to the table, praying a change of scene would prove a helpful distraction. I was wrong. As my husband struggled with our coats and my over-flowing bag, I produced some water. Mini-beast grabbed the bottle from my hands and glugged it back as if we had been purposely depriving her. This provided a very brief reprieve. We were handed some menus as well as some crayons and paper (these crayons were later dumped unceremoniously on the ground). For one brief moment my husband and I relaxed. Mini-beast must have noted our as she then decided to kick things up a notch. She pointed at random into space and started to yell. We frantically searched for a solution. Did she want a toy? Was she hungry? Had we mistakenly showed some form of weakness (one must be careful to never show any sign of weakness in front of the mini-beast). Nothing soothed her and the random pointing continued unabated. Finally, some breadsticks arrived and mini-beast was momentarily sated. We hurriedly ordered and prayed our breakfasts would arrive before further mayhem could break out. Our coffees came first and I threw mine down my throat, previous adventures with the mini-beast having thought me to drink quickly or be content with cold coffee.
Our breakfasts appeared along with some sausages for the mini-beast. Normally she is a big fan of sausages, in fact she usually becomes very hyper after eating them. Today the vast majority of carefully cut pieces ended up on the floor. She ate her hands instead. After consultation with the husband, I decided to make a mercy dash to Boots. Sweaty and panicked I searched the baby section for Calpol but where was was it? I’m sure the sales assistant was frightened by my manic demeanour. Inspiration struck and I bolted to the pharmacy section, barely containing my rage when the pharmacist took slightly too long to serve me. lI cringed as I re-entered the cafe, sure I would hear the screams of my precious darling ringing through the place! I was very surprised to find both husband and toddler quite calm. One spoon of Calpol later we managed to shovel in some cold eggs and toast while mini-beast watched from her high-chair throne, satisfied we wouldn’t be taking her good moods for granted again. Sadly my husband and I admitted we had become that family. The one everyone avoids sitting next to in restaurants. The one other parents watch half smug/half sympathetic while gratefully cuddling their own well-behaved monsters. The one no-one wants to be…but it seems the one we are all destined to be at some point. My only comfort is telling myself this is something every parent must go through at some stage right? And perhaps the teenage years might not be so hard now we have experienced the horrors of the toddler years?