Sunday, 4 February 2007

Dining out

Here we all are, off to the local Indian restaurant, as a reward for being nice to each other yesterday, all day long. Well, nearly. Shark went bonkers last night about 9.30pm, bursting with the pressure, probably, and proceeded to smash up her room and lose £2.20. I made sure she gained it back this morning before 9.00, because I'd set the stupid rule that we had to have enough credit to justify the meal. So she got rewarded 50p for looking cute. Consistent parenting? Am I some sort of robot? Anyway, I was looking forward to this Sunday outing. It's the only time me and Dig get to go out together.

When we get there we get told off. Apparently we make a mess. Mahmud says that last time it took thirty minutes to clean up the table. And the floor. And the wall. So please could we try and keep the rice and mint yoghurt in one area this time. The children look defensively at the floor. I offer 30p for the cleanest floor, 20p for the middling mess, and 10p for the messiest miss.

The kids all know the script now at the buffet session, and they love it. Mostly the rice and the mint yoghurt. Within minutes they're tucking in to mountains of green rice and there's a widening pool of green rice grains around their chairs. To be honest, I don't worry that much. I've got no dignity left anywhere now, and when Mahmud comes clattering round with the dustpan and brush I smile and raise my eyebrows in a sort of 'kids will be kids' look. We tell the children that when they stop scattering food everywhere on the floor we can try a restaurant with carpets.

I consider the offer that came in the post yesterday. I have been invited, along with Dig, to A Posh Do. If I go I have to leave the children at home, being babysat with Aunty Dee. I'm in two minds. Going out with Dig and without children would be wonderful. But let's face it. First the invitation was probably an error, a throw up from an old, pre-children mailing list that The Corporation has muddled on its database. The events organiser will greet me with a crest-falling face when I show up.

If I go, I'll be immediately split up from Dig because someone in the office will think it's a good idea to split people up in the aid of networking. If we're not split up from the start, then within five minutes, some bloke in a suit will come over to Dig, who is big in the world of commas, and greet him with a great jolliness, saying, 'Do come over and meet SoandSo. He's very big in the world of dots.' If that doesn't happen, Dig will see the blokes who are big in speech marks, and abandon me to spend most of the evening discussing question marks.

Then someone will see me in a circle of my own and come over to introduce himself. I can imagine what he'll say, with growing awareness that I don't have any useful business connections for him, and with an increasing sense of urgency that he has to leave my company because he's wasting networking time. 'Oh, so you have children. Triplets. how interesting. Do excuse me, I've just seen Dig.'

In the middle of this awful social situation, the information that I'm a vegetarian will be lost, and a chicken kiev will be dumped in front of me. So I'll eat bread all night and try not to drink too much. If I do, I'll worry that I'll tell the man who's big in exclamation marks to shove off.

I look at the wooden floor, covered in green rice, and a green yoghurty stain making a slow progress down the wall behind Shark. Everyone gets 10p. Mahmud looks miserable. I attempt a smile in a sort of 'kids will be kids' way. I try and hold hands with Dig on the way home, but there are too many children. I'll consider the Posh Do. But in reality, I'd probably be happier being told off down at the local Indian.

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