Another day, another screaming match in a restaurant with a random woman.
It all started off so well…I made cake this morning, we watched telly, we skyped mum and dad, we had bacon and eggs for breakfast, the flat was tidy, the washing was under control, no one was punching or eye-gouging. We are borrowing Rocket The Dog, and we all got dressed ready to take him for a walk with a minimum of fuss. They even had stylish little boy clothes on. And one of the frightening Italian ladies who live on the square actually said to me as I walked past, with dog, two little boys, baby and Custard, that I “made it look easy”. I so should have known it would all lead to a public rage-filled fracas.
So, we finish walking the dog, drop him off into the nice cakey-smelling basement flat, and wander off to Carluccio’s for a quick lunch. Custard has been a bit of a horrid ranty screamer lately, (well, actually, forever) so I do a lot of prepping on the way, telling them all that I will bring them straight home if there is even a hint of bad behaviour. I have babylissed my hair, it is swishy, I am wearing my rabbit fur nonchalantly, faces are clean, noses are not dripping, I am perfectly in control.
We get there, we sit at the big table with the newspapers, I order quickly for the boys (all four of them – the baby is now capable of eating grisini, penne pasta with pesto, a chocolate teddybear cake and apple juice and a bit of my leftovers) and they eat nicely, quietly, and quickly. I read a bit of the weekend Guardian. So far, so stylishly calm. The waitress comes up and talks about her kid, swaps stories and strokes Ned’s chocolately cheeks. So, for about an hour, I have four children with me, who eat, who get told off only once, who colour in, who are good.
Then Custard, who, if I may reiterate, is a bit of a difficult 2 year old, who does tend to screech and shriek in public in order to unnerve me and get me sweaty and get me moving and generally get me to do what he wants, gets off his chair and does a bit of random fire extinguisher-touching and a bit of screaming. I know it is time to get the bill and get out. Now, for context, Carluccio’s is full of families. Full of small kids, some being very good, some wandering around, some crying, some sticking ice cream on their foreheads. So Custard’s noise is annoying and fairly loud, but almost lost in the general kiddish chaos of it all.
Then, an older woman (ALWAYS BLOODY OLDER WOMEN! Where is the sisterhood, I ask you?) tells me to do something about Custard’s noise. I tell her I am leaving, and I am sorry, in a bit of a weak-laugh-what-can-I-do?-kind-of-way. She then says that her grandchildren would never act that way in a restaurant, and I should think twice about bringing mine to a restaurant ever again. Then she told me she felt sorry for me that I had him. I splutter, and tell her that if she does not like children, she should stay away from family restaurants at lunchtime on a Saturday. And I say “Thank you so much for your thoughtful and helpful comments. I really appreciate them” in a barely contained, violently angry, adrenalin-filled-shaky-voiced way. I tremble with the rage. Then the bloody bill takes an achingly long time to come. I wait, I dress the children up into their coats, I follow Custard around trying to contain his random shrieking,and restaurant-ornament-fiddling, and I pay. As I leave, I go over to her and say:
“I do hope you enjoy your lunch now”
“Oh, I will, once you leave!”
Then I say:
“You are the rudest woman I have ever met. Why would you come to Carluccio’s if you cannot abide children?”
“I don’t hate children. I just don’t like yours. You need to do something about that boy. You were just ignoring him. Why don’t you teach him how to behave in a restaurant? I feel sorry for you! There are ways to deal with children like that. My children would never have behaved like that, nor do my grandchildren. Keep them at home.”
So I say:
“You have no idea what you are talking about, you terrible woman. How dare you? I feel sorry for your husband here, having to go out to lunch with an intolerant badly-behaved rude and interfering woman like you! I hope you feel really good about yourself! I am doing the best job I can do!”………..
And on, and on, to shouty embarrassing infinity and beyond. Then on the way out, all red-faced and shaky and full of righteous anger, I told the waiting staff that she was a terrible rude woman to watch out for, and stopped people on the way in and warned them about the child-hating lady at the back. Ah, me, perhaps not my proudest moment. But c’mon! I attract these nutters like midges to an opened bottle of red wine.
I am like a mama-bear. I am so up for a fight. It is unstylish, I know, but I am powerless in the face of maternal mama-bear-ness. I then waited for her outside, possibly for some fisticuffs. She didn’t come, and I went home, mumbling under my breath like an insane person. I was AWESOME.
Oh I am so sorry that happened to you. What an absolute WITCH. You and yours did NOTHING wrong, and she was ENTIRELY at fault. I feel fairly rage trembly myself on the telling of the story. You did well not to actually hit her. OH! I am OUTRAGED.
I am so pleased I am not the only person who does this! That woman got what she deserved. Carluccios on Sat lunch is kid central what the hell did she expect? Silly cow. Go you!
I got into a shouty fight with a woman at a bus stop last night – not about kids but about queue jumping (it’s one of those rare routes where everyone queues). This particular woman was clearly crazed but at least she was shocked to find that I wasn’t going to just let her rant and rave whilst everyone looked away in silence.
You do attract nutters! What is it that you do?
I am seething. SEETHING with anger. You are absolutely right. If it’s peace and quiet you require, DON’T GO TO BLOODY CARLUCCIO’S! What a malicious cow. What was her husband doing while all this was going on? Looking away embarrassed I expect.
That woman is BEGGING to be punched in the face.
What is partly behind my quiet, polite public face is the fear that if I let it go, I could be in screaming matches – maybe physical fights, why not? – with random uncivilised strangers every moment of every day.
So well done for exercising moderation.
Is she related to the lady in the park, the one who looks perfectly sweet and not like a care-in-the-community/cross-the-road/no eye-contact type? Do you know the one I mean? She’s dressed in a smart coat and hat, with a little white scottie dog, and is in her late seventies? She starts talking under her breath, and I think she’s commenting on the weather and smile at her…. The lady who when my very well-behaved holding-my-hand chatty-not-screamy son and I are many, many feet away, starts ranting about how I need to control my brat? She likes to hang out near the pirate ship playground, good hunting ground for child-haters, and I now have a barrage of lines for her, mainly variations on how she may need to check her medication….
I think you might find, that if that lady you mention in the park is Italian, Jodi has encountered her before. 🙂
Yes! Yes! She muttered that we were breeding like rabbits. I see her point, but still…
Wow. London sure does seem to be the place for unbelievable rudeness. If anyone said that here they would have their teeth so far down their throats, their arses would be able to chew.
Un-be-LEEVABLE rudity. What a rotten end to your pristine and sorted day out.
I sometimes wish that I could leave my son in the car when he starts to act up. Just leave the window open a wee bit for fresh air? Just until I get to finish my meal or coffee? *social services stub out their fags and get on their bicycles to pedal round to mine in haste*
Unbelievable. You actually were quite well spoken given the circumstances. I unfortunately would have just deteriorated into cursing at her from her toes to her wrinkly head, and then perhaps hit her…. You are strong, you are good, you are lovely, you mama bear.
Ok so the stalker-like reading of your old blog posts has been wonderfully entertaining but I have to jump out here to say WOW. I would probably have started crying and run out the door at encountering someone like this old bitch. I shall have to be on the look out whenever the girls are on the loose on Westbourne Grove. At least I shall be able to say “Ah yes, I’ve heard about you. Everyone on the internet HATES you!” Which might actually be a good line for anyone who comments on my parenting skills in public!