I know you don’t know me and even though you only met me today, you’ve probably already forgotten my face, considering all the other patrons you waited on after I came in, but I just wanted to say thanks.
I was that harassed mum who I’m sure you didn’t want to see coming into your restaurant, with my two loud under-fours, but I needed to feed them so there I was.
I feel like I must explain. It was one of the worst days - constant driving rain with the huge winds we only seem to get in the West. I, like numerous other mums, seem to find myself in town with both my children in tow a lot. It’s not that I enjoy the experience - believe me, I don’t.
Imagine trying to drag two small puppies on leads (not that I use leads on my kids; although it is an attractive thought), who only want to go backwards and who constantly get distracted by things like a crisp packet swirling around. Got it? Well that kind of comes close to how it is with my two darlings.
I work mornings and my husband works evenings, and luckily we manage our childcare between us with a lot of help from Granny and Grandad. But when I need to run errands, the kids come with me, even on days like today where every stop is a battle. So by the time I arrived at your restaurant, soaked, battered and tired, I was in bad need of a warm dinner cooked by someone else and served right under my nose.
I know I was not the most attractive patron, especially with my two kids waddling in behind me, but it was your kindness and patience with us that really made a lasting impression. While it took me the requisite ten minutes to unwrap myself and the kids from our outdoor clothes, you waited patiently with the menus and thank God, the crayons and colouring sheets. I thought you were an angel sent from heaven!
Then while the children argued over the same colour crayon, you quickly took my order and immediately dropped down prawn crackers to quell the argument. And once No.2 (the hungry one) had his fill, you didn’t seem to mind him coming down off his chair to play peek-a-boo with our neighbouring table, so I could actually finish a dinner while it was reasonably warm.
I also must apologise for the mess of noodles left under our table, on our chairs and probably trailing to the bathroom. I tried to minimise the mess but it’s like holding back the tide; it’s just not possible. I’m also sorry for the kissy marks left on your gorgeous mirror behind our booth. No. 2 is very affectionate, particularly towards himself.
Oh and I’m sorry for probably giving you a heart attack when we all disappeared. No.1 has a habit of needing to use the bathroom at the most inopportune time and as I’m on my own, we all have to go en masse to the facilities. I hope you didn’t think we were skipping out on the bill.
So, thank you. Thank you for splitting the one kid’s meal into two portions. My kids don’t eat a lot – in fact they never even seem to finish the half portion - so thanks for that as it helped my pocket.
Thank you for conspiring with me in my lies that you were all out of chicken nuggets and chips. When they find me out on that one, I’m screwed.
Thank you for understanding when I asked for the bill when our mains arrived. Since No.2 came along, I never have time for coffee or dessert because he’sjust at that age where once he’s done, he wants to move! I sometimes reminisce aboutthe days when going out to dinner used to be a three hour affair. Now we’re usually in and out in around 40 minutes.
Thank you for making it just that little bit easier to help give my child something more nutritious than fast food and for making me feel like my children were welcome and not just a nuisance in your already long workday. I strongly believe in well-behaved kids in restaurants but first they have to learn how to do this, so thank you for your patience.
This open letter is not for just this particular waiter or the establishment I had the pleasure of dining in today; this is for all the restaurants and coffee shops I have ventured into with ‘Seek & Destroy’ (also known as my kids).
For the restaurant that has a little corner with toys and the kids books. For the free babychinos. For the baby changing unit in an unlocked toilet. For the friendly waitress who came out from around the counter to get down to my kids’ level and chat to them.
To all those family friendly establishments who really try their very best to be kid friendly, on behalf of all the stressed out, sleep deprived mums and dads out there, Thank You. You make our world that little bit easier, when God knows, we really need the help.
And just remember, while they may be little now, some day our little darlings will be that little bit older, and we’ll be back with them still in tow, to enjoy those three-hour dinners.
A Harassed Mum-of-Two in Galway, Ireland