Upsides and downsides of having a child-free lunch

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If there’s one thing guaranteed to make you feel like a grown-up, it’s going out for lunch with a friend without any children in tow.

That’s a rite of passage if ever there was one. We’re all familiar with kids and teenagers’ rites of passage. They’re well documented, from drinking to driving and that first kiss (not at the same time, obviously).

But let’s not forget that rites don’t stop there. They continue on – and having lunch uninterrupted is one of them (it doesn’t count if it’s in office hours by the way, as that’s a perk of working).

Of course the downside of having lunch children-free is that there are gaps in the conversation. Once these were filled with cries of ‘mummy I don’t like this’, ‘mummy I need a poo’, ‘mummy I’ve just spilled my drink over everything else on the table’ etc etc etc.

So when you finally make it out to sit and chat and there are no children present, you suddenly realise that it’s not so easy.

Where the rapid gunfire approach of having short, sharp bursts of conversation once worked for you, having a grown-up lunch means that you have to actually think about what you’re saying, knowing that it can be picked over and further delving questions asked without the diversion of the pepper pot being used as a missile while another child sticks a fork in their ear.

It’s very hard, but also very lovely to go grown-up. I had the good fortune to have such a lunch on one of the sunniest days of last week and sat baking in the sunshine at Gunwharf, watching other mothers attempting to contain their children’s food consumption while simultaneously applying sun lotion and trying not to get the two intertwined.

I couldn’t quite go the whole hog and have an alcoholic beverage while I was at it. I have to build myself up to that as a glass of wine in the sunshine is a combination that could rival the best sleeping drug on the market today.

But I did eventually get the hang of producing complete sentences which followed one another with a semblance of logic. And even better than that, I almost completed another rite – having a whole conversation without mentioning the children.