We stop and glance into the restaurant.
Gone are the days of glancing the menu to make the decision…
Yep, there are other kids… We are good.
We go in.
Those kids are SITTING.
WTF? Are they like plastic decoys or something.
It’s too late though, we have shuffled in…
I continue scanning.
Nope, definitely all sitting.
What kind of trick is this??!!
How is it possible that these children are sitting, are they glued to their seats? Is this witchcraft?
For I have Learnt, if sitting even successfully happens in the first place…
That somewhere between “can I take your order” and “Bon appetite” restaurant chairs clearly evolve to grow red hot spikes, like electrified cactuses, the force my band of ferals to raise, possessed, from their seats and start running around, screaming, wailing, lashing manically like a cat in heat…
Never have I had one of these mythical glue chairs I can clearly see scattered throughout this restaurant that enables a child to remain stuck, seated, in one position for the duration of the meal… Foolishly, I look around at the delightfully seated children, and wonder if maybe, just maybe, this time we will get a glue chair.
And thus it was, as my little family shuffled into the cute little alfresco dining, with the perfectly postcard street umbrellas shading the well laid out little tables, and the hanging baskets dripping, raining, with a rainbow of healthy blossoms, on the sunny streets of Brussels after a day of ” enjoying each other’s company on a pleasant family holiday” ( read, trying not to kill each other whilst sending “death eyes” across the room whilst muttering evil curses towards the other under our breath and eventually cracking the utter sh*ts and simply taking off walking a foreign city alone with two wayward ferals and an expanding baby bump whilst his “lordshit” had a nap…)
Gone are the days of pouring over a menu tantalisingly…
Laughing, joking… Smiling…
Heck… Long gone are the days where conversation is so freely flowing and warm that the menu isn’t even opened before the first eager waiter appears at your table… Causing you to let out that obnoxious laugh of young people in love… With no kids.
No, menu reading today is now an exercise in speed reading. It is a contest to scan the entire volumes of food quicker than humanly possible to admit defeat that no, Vegemite sandwiches are not in offer darling, is there ANYTHING, F’ing anything, that you might eat…
It is now a talented skill to be able to scan the kids section, plus the adults section, plus the drinks, all whilst watching to make sure a little hand has not shot out at the speed of light to grab the flower vase, or salt, or knives, or anything not utterly nailed down and used it in an assault launch on their sibling… Or other diners.
It is trickier than a game of twister, the skill of juggling turning pages of a menu at lightning speed, intercepting any table missiles launched through slow detection of before mentioned hand all whilst hurling your whole body in a “go go gadget” manoeuvre to capture any escaping child via their collars before they disappear entirely.
And then somehow, when the waiter appears, not smiling as he glares at the dishevelled terrors before him and the inevitable “salt art” being created on the nice clean table, you order something that you may or may not have seen on the menu, cosy in the knowledge that neither of the kids will eat any bloody thing you choose for them, your meal will be cold before you get to touch it, if you get to touch it, and despite looking pleadingly, the waiter will still insist on bringing the kids fancy glassware for their juices and steak knives for their meal. Knives god dammit!!?? Does this guy have a death wish! No, for the love of good, don’t give my child the knife! Too late… Which will then become a further assault launch option available to them on the table.
By now… The cactus spikes in the kids seats must be searing hot and radioactive, for both of them are jumping out as if their little arses are on fire from the bites of a million bull ants. Screaming, whinging, carrying on. Extending the table items warfare past each other and now inflicting mass destruction on the tables of surrounding diners.
Our most stern hisses and reprimands falling on deaf ears, drowned out by the raucous giggles as one causes the other to run full tilt into an umbrella stand…
Our yelling gets louder. More insistent… More desperate begging, pleading.
We have past the stage where bribery works…
We are past the point of return.
The food arrives.
It looks delicious.
We salivate in anticipation, like pavlov’s dogs, only to accept that this will be another meal untouched… As one has taken off their shoes and is performing a “punch and Judy style puppet foot play” on the table ( causing some almighty looks of disproval from surrounding diners who clearly did not wish to be entertained by the sight of ten filthy toes whilst eating their dinner) while the other has started crying. That long, low, I am not planning to stop anytime soon, nothing you can do to placate me cry…
I attempt to eat dinner with the screaming banshee thrashing on my lap. A further skill is the ability to pick menu items that can be eaten one handed. Cutlery is an opulent luxury these days, one I have not enjoyed in some time…
While hubby’s dinner turns cold as he has drags the puppeteer up the street for a stern talking to, and likely a deserved butt slapping, out of ear and eye sight of our fellow diners.
We try to bribe them again. It is to no avail.
We make the theatrical song and dance of how amazing their food looks, and truly it does… We have even managed to select a variety of foods which both have eaten within the last week…
But are met with the defiant cries of “no it’s disgusting” ( where the F did they learn that word?!)
We attempt the oldest parenting tricks in the book – quick eat it before I do or I give it to your brother / sister.
Nope, their resolve is dead fast. Damn it. Stubborn little bastards truly are my children.
And thus, another 60 euros well spent, as we admit defeat, pay for our cold, untouched meals and drag the little terrors out of there, under the disproving eyes of our fellow diners and their picture perfect, glued on children ( seriously, how the F are they doing that?!)
Two steps up the street and cue the tantrum…
Waaaaaaaaaah, ( it sounds like a bomb alarm, diners nearly drop to the floor) passers by jump out of the way higher and farther than Olympic champions…
I want to go back.
I want my dinner…
Oh, and my favourite,..
I want ice cream.
No way are you having ice cream.
Ice cream is a special treat, only if you’re good.
Were you good at dinner? “Yes”
WHAT THE ACTUAL F+*^
What do you mean yes? Did you stay sitting “yes” were you quiet? “Yes” did you listen to mummy and daddy? “Yes” did you eat your dinner “yes”
Whaaaaaat? What crazy parallel universe did this kid just spend the last thirty mins in??
The tantrum grows.
We are now full scale meltdown on the grubby dirt, possessed by the devil, arms and legs flailing, demanding ice cream.
Each no is met with a volume increase I wouldn’t have deemed possible.
Walking away results in a rugby tackle at my feet and further display of just how epic a tantrum can be.
I scoop the writhing beast up and fling him over my shoulder like a sack of spuds in a display of my super human strength, inherited as a mother.
Good god this kid weighs a ton. I don’t know how. He doesn’t eat.
He lashes out like a many limbed mythological beast.
I feel my face getting scratched. I wince as a filthy, grubby hand, covered in street dirt and litter is thrust into my mouth, my hair is pulled.
I am now as equally dishevelled as him… But slowly, calmly, I continue walking back to the hotel.
Repeating the same clear directions.
Ice cream is a special treat.
We only get ice cream when we are good.
We were not good at dinner.
I no longer even notice the stares of onlookers as I carry my heavy sack of disobedience home and enjoy a further 15 minutes of the ice cream tantrum.
I admire my core body strength that I am still able to lug him up the four flights of stairs… Although I do ponder what happens as he gets bigger as he is nearing three quarters of my height already… And I do give a moments thought to the growing human inside who just received ( not their first) sibling pummelling…
We fill the bath and toss them in.
Wash off the street dirt,
Drown out their continued moaning.
Discuss calmly the expectations of what being good at dinner looks like.
We ask if they want ice cream tomorrow.
Of course they do.
We tell them we can try again tomorrow and all they need to do is be good.
I swear they laughed.
It is bed time.
I don’t know who is more exhausted. Them or us?
Another fun family day finished with a delightful meal in a most adorable little street side restaurant.. Overlooking the grand beguiling buildings of Brussels.
Roll on tomorrow…
May your food be warm and tasty, wherever this finds you!
Love and hugs world.
“Butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths” …