Tim and I decided that we wanted to do a little something for ourselves; we wanted to go and eat in a restaurant of our choosing, and not limit ourselves to a place that offered one of the very few things that Freddie is willing to eat when we’re out. We wanted to have tapas, in a cosy bar we know in Manchester that doesn’t even have a children’s menu. Our other two children, who are plenty old enough to fend for themselves for a bit, had their own activities planned for the day, but Freddie would have to come with us.
We had discovered over half-term that there are a couple of things he will happily help himself to in the car: a boxed children’s fast-food meal, or a packed lunch. I put his favourite sandwiches (actually the only sandwiches he will eat) and a few other snacks into his novelty lunch boxes. That way, he could eat on the way there and in the restaurant we could just get him something nice to drink and let him taste our food if he showed an interest.
The day did not start well. I don’t know what set it off, but Freddie’s behaviour in the car was challenging to say the least: screaming and shouting aggressively, wriggling his arms out of his car seat straps, trying to climb out of it and unlock the car door (luckily we keep the child lock on on that side). We had to pull into the next services and rig up a way of fastening his straps together so that he couldn’t escape. Eventually he calmed down enough to eat his lunch.
It wasn’t until we got to the restaurant that I realised I had forgotten to bring the crayons and sticker books. The menu had changed since we last visited and, as I have some food allergies, it didn’t seem as though there was anything I could confidently eat. I was beginning to feel quite anxious. Then a smiley waitress brought not only pencils and paper, but also a spreadsheet detailing exactly which items on the menu would be ok for me.
When the food came I offered Freddie a taste of a lovely, soft albondigas meatball, expecting him to turn his nose up. But he opened his mouth, and to my surprise, did not spit it out. He accepted a second mouthful, then another, and another. In the end we ordered a second dish of them, which he scoffed, every morsel, sauce and all.
When the bill came, Freddie took a sudden shine to the smiley waitress (either that or he was trying to score us a discount); he winked at her several times, then asked her for a hug and kiss! Cheeky.
So, a success. Hopefully the first of many.