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.