Has anyone seen the free magazine in Tesco over the last few months? For those who haven’t, every month food love stories are featured. I am trying to diet at the moment and for the last few weeks have been taunted by the image of a Chocolate Slime Tart every time I enter my local Tesco. Anyway, food, love and family are intrinsically related, although in my experience not in the ways you would expect. Historically, the only time we achieve harmony is when we are in McDonalds, but I will persevere.
It was the end of a half term and I decided it would be a good idea to go out for a family meal, partly because I really didn’t want to cook. Both boys were warned that if they misbehaved, there would be a two month ban on us all eating out together. After much deliberation we agreed to go to the Toby Carvery, although youngest boy let it be known that this was not his preferred option. It wasn’t meant to be anyway, because by the time we arrived, people were queuing out of the door, so we decided to go to a local Hungry Horse pub instead. The boys argued for Pizza Hut but for once us parents won.
We arrived and were lucky enough to find a table. Depending on how you look at it, it was either lucky or unlucky that there were a large number of other parents present, many of them parents of boys younger than ours. On the one hand, it meant that the behaviour of our boys was less likely to stand out, although I wouldn’t go as far as to say unnoticed. I felt an equal amount of empathy and relief when I saw fellow parents trying to soothe and follow round over tired and strung out toddlers. There wasn’t a hint of nostalgia, only misguided hope that our boys might be somewhere on the path towards vague civilisation.
Things started badly. Although he had been hankering after a mega mixed grill minutes earlier, older boy decided that he had terrible stomach ache and claimed not to have drunk anything all day. Younger boy meanwhile claimed not to like anything on the menu despite it providing too much choice. I opted to get us drinks as an excuse to have a breather and returned with their drinks and my much-needed pint of cider. Both older and younger boy decided that it would be a great idea to taste my drink and I uttered the words “if you spill, Mum will kill”. I couldn’t bear for such a lovely and wanted pint to be wasted, thankfully it wasn’t.
By the time the food arrived, everyone’s mood including my own seemed to have lifted. The boys even ate the majority of their food, yes older boy only left the egg and tomato from his mega mixed grill. Despite a bit of messing around towards the end of the meal, I decided that it practically counted as a harmonious family outing. For this reason alone we will return to the Hungry Horse pub.