Restaurants and babies don’t mix

Romantic - Saddam Hussein

CLIVE SMITH: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn about Valentine’s Day

Have your say

Iadmit it, I’m a beaten man.

I’ve tried eating in a restaurant with a one-year-old and he’s left me physically, emotionally and financially battered.

We tried the whole process years ago when Molly was getting to grips with food.

For some bizarre reason, my brain has decided to banish the trauma of my child chomping on grey, cold, chips from under a distant table.

Why a child won’t eat piping hot food from the table, but is more than happy to scuttle around foraging for remains on the floor, is a mystery.

Of course, the image of the whole family sat in a nice restaurant, talking candidly, laughing and enjoying some good wholesome food is one everyone aspires to.

But if your family is anything like ours, it rarely turns out like that.

At Port Solent recently we sat down for a nice family feast but by the time the ordeal had finished, I was ready for counselling.

It always starts from the moment we take the table.

Feisty Jack is never a big fan of sitting in his high chair for too long.

Within moments he’ll be testing the escapability of the straps and if they give him half an inch, he’ll wrestle himself free and stand on the seat waving a breadstick, not unlike King Kong holding a bi-plane at the top of the Empire State Building.

Then there are the six courses of finger snacks to placate him before the food is actually served – raisins, breadsticks, grapes, cheese etc.

I’ve worked out that there’s a 42 per cent success rate of snacks actually ending up in his belly – it’s more often his lap, his ear (a new manoeuvre) and a thick scattering on the floor.

Three seconds for a lad his age is a long time, so imagine how many games and activities you need to invent whilst waiting for the food to arrive.

The clang of cutlery on the floor and games of peek-a-boo are de rigueur as is chomping on free crayons.

As all of the food tends to arrive at once, you’re faced with a choice. Try and quickly feed the little devil, then you can relax and enjoy your own meal, or alternate mouthfuls between you and your dependant little friend.

The latter is often difficult as straying hands tend to grab things from your plate and a one-year-old wearing a lava hot jacket potato as a glove isn’t acceptable.

Once the feeding frenzy is over, the final episode is the industrial clean-up.

Little Jack, the high chair, the table and innocent bystanders are all peppered with debris, so everything within a two metre radius is wet wiped.

All in all a slightly unpleasant but character building experience.