Tears and Fries

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I was wearing my ‘going out’ flip flops (you know, the ones with a diamante on them), my comfy sports bra and my unwashed hair was piled almost convincingly up in a top knot. Loosely of course, because of rubbish skills and no time, not an on-trend fashion sense. But I was wearing a nice frock and some lippy; the frock was loose and flowing of course, because of my lack of desire for suck in undies and a craving for parmigiana.

We were at the local club for dinner (did that just scream [nearly] middle age conservative?), because white table cloths and water jugs were now the enemy and things of our ‘BK’ days. Nowadays we looked for cheap and cheerful. A relaxed night out with french fries, fast service, sympathetic wait staff and the deal sealer included a play area for the little wreckers. We weaved our way between the prams and nabbed a table, and the husband headed to the bar for for my mummy medicine and menus.

For the kids, the question has now simply become, “Which sauce would you like with your fries, kids?”

I battle meals and balanced foods at home. This was a night off cooking and I was not beginning the war. I figure these are the ‘role modeling’ evenings; when I ‘ooohhh’ and ‘aaahhh’ over the salad loudly for the kids benefit whilst they shovel chips down.

So whilst we waited for our meals, I glugged sipped my bevo down, and the kids tore off to play, with me shouting pointless instructions behind them. The husband proceeded to give me a run down of his STRAVA performance (and if you don’t know what this is, I WANT YOUR LIFE!), but my eyes were busy scanning the play area for the kids. Did she just shove that little kid? Was that his cry? My head was whipping back and forth, whilst trying to show some semblance of interest in the road condition and hills in my husband’s morning ride.

Relaxing? I think not.

Another adult was bearing down on my daughter…was she in trouble? Was that another parent? Oh…all good, she walked past. But was that safe? That wall he was now climbing on? It is in the kid area, but are they allowed to do that? Ooooops…it seems not. The worker just asked him to get down, whilst he scanned the crowd for the guilty parents. I gulped  sipped more wine and feigned interest in my bag, throwing a, “That’s great, dear. You’re looking so fit,” in for good measure. It seems I went in too hard and he called my bluff.

“Anxious Anna,” he sighed.

Yes. Yes I am. Because I want my kids to be safe and happy. I will not apologise.

I did, however, agree to swap seats with him so that I wouldn’t be staring. They were now on his watch.

Did that make me relax? Not for a second.

Was he capable of watching his own children? More than.

Was I being a moron? Absolutely, but I couldn’t stop.

Fries.

“FRIES, KIDS,” bellowed he, whilst every homemade hummus mummy in the joint raised their eyes to glare.

They tore through the club like kids who had refused to eat both their wholesome breakfast or lunch.

They ripped in as I uttered my, “be careful, they’re hot,” warning, but too late. The cheek puffing, squawking and feet hopping had begun. A glass of water flooded the table just as the waiter arrived with our meals. We smiled and acted as though this was all normal, because, actually it was, and I began the mop up whilst staring longingly at my hot, ‘cooked by another person’ Parma…the type that you always say, “It’s huge! I have no chance of finishing that,” as you then proceed to jam down every morsel. Finally, the table was presentable, the kids were chowing down, and I was about to start.

“Mummy, I need a wee.”

We go, get back and he has done it.

He bloody went there. He took a taste. He cut a slice off my pristine, untouched, melted cheese delight from heaven, BEFORE I HAD TAKEN A SINGLE BITE. Because of course, now his meal is pretty much all gone, and he had declared that there was no hope I could eat it all.

“More wine,” I hissed, through clenched fangs. “Pllleeaasse,” I drawled for the benefit of the kids, as I fluttered my evil eyes at him.

And it rolled on… The kids bickered. Another glass was tipped. There were tears. When the (wrong flavoured, apparently) ice cream came out, the brief silence gave the husband and I a chance to fantasise about discuss the holiday we wouldn’t be having later in the year and moan about the exorbitant price of babysitters nowadays.

As I tried to tidy the tornado table for the staff, we fought off another melt down regarding the vending machine that was in the corner (twist that knife in, management), and told the kids that they were exceptionally tired now and it was time to go home to bed.

It was 6.30pm.

Just at that moment, the girls arrived, with the tall, lanky lap dog boys following along behind with a tray of starty party shots.

The 21st balloons bobbed about in their arms as they strutted their way through to the function room. There would be no parmigianas for them in those teeny tiny dresses and the heels and makeup were exceptional; almost beyond belief. I think every mum and dad in that room twisted to watch, for different reasons (yes, husband, I saw), but I finally exhaled with relief for the first time that evening. I sent a little prayer upwards that I had missed this Kardashian era and giggled when I remembered our oversized T-Shirts, jeans and even Rossi work boots that we wore to the pub in our day.  Sure, this ‘going out gig’ was different with a family now; the pressures were of a whole new nature, but I was genuinely excited to head home and hit the couch with my love, maybe crack open a red (it was Saturday night after all), and watch another Orange is the New Black.

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