Family resort warning: expect actual live children!
Before we had our own, we were only aware of children in restaurants if they were leaving as we arrived. Now we’re very conscious of their presence. We tend to book earlier sittings if the children are tired and only brave later sittings if the stars align and we have a tote bag full of games, crayons, a vast selection of items from the mini toys aisle in Tiger and, of course, our phones. Hugh and I are the parents who always have the pre-restaurant chat: “please remember this is a restaurant so you need to behave” and “other people are trying to have a nice dinner and don’t need you being loud and annoying” etc. etc.
Just another dinner
We went for an early dinner last night and purposefully chose the restaurant with a children’s area (all tables in the vicinity had at least one toddler, some had babies and all had slightly frazzled looking parents quaffing the free flowing all-inclusive booze). For a change we had the oldest and quietest of the bunch *gloats and remembers why we won't do the baby stage again. All was going well in a slightly whiney-background-din kind of way until a group of eight grey-haired guests arrived. I can only surmise they were all blind and deaf because they picked the large empty table immediately next to the children’s area. Let me be clear, the area was not curtained off or made discreet in any way – we’re talking bright mini plastic chairs and tables, puzzles strewn on the floor and buckets of unloved but well used blunt crayons. Anyway, blind, stupid or desperate for a bust up, they chose said table, unfurled their napkins and began to look at the menu.
My children obviously saw this as a perfect opportunity to start playing a loud role-play game with a little redheaded girl they had befriended. A tiny twelve-week-old decided at that moment she needed a feed. Right. Now. I did the “turn the volume down” mime, which clearly went unnoticed. The atmosphere went from easy to tense.
Throwing a wobbler
The Alpha grey-haired man swung round in his chair and protested “whoa, whoa” to the happy group of kids and then, seemingly astonished at the presence of children, launched into a loud gesticulating German rant. My GCSE level Deutsch left me clear that “this is not a kindergarten” and that they should “get the waitress!" At first it could have been mistaken for sunburn but sadly the livid red face was not to be blamed on the Greek sun but on the presence of real live children in a family restaurant! He gave my two a run for their money on who can throw the best wobble in a restaurant.
The waitress was very relaxed and “well, what do you want me to do?” She didn’t prolong the fuss (which I suspect the German chap wanted). She calmly ushered the group to one of the umpteen empty tables far away from the family area. Normally I might have felt guilty that my children had affected someone else’s evening but not this night. No, I was all two fingers up to the grumpy sods.
We can all enjoy ourselves
Everyone is entitled to a nice evening, even those who have smaller versions of themselves in tow. Yes, we parents are allowed to have fun too. Free from over the bi-focals glares, free from tutting and sighing. Give us a break, we're doing our best. Even if we aren't, it's not your place to judge. Maybe they’d never had children. Maybe they had but they were the seen but not heard type. Maybe they were so old they’d forgotten what kids are like? Maybe they hadn’t eaten in a restaurant when their kids were actual kids? Who knows or cares?
After they left the camaraderie between all the parents was quite pronounced. Shoulder shrugs and smiles exchanged, the area went back to the din and we continued our food and wine in what we called peace.
A little advice
For those without children in tow, if you go to a family restaurant on a family resort, there will definitely be real live, noise-making children. Fact. If you don’t like it, please, please do us all a favour and go somewhere else.
Note to self, avoid large group of grumps at all costs – not for their sake but ours.