Children should be seen and not heard….

On Friday evening, we had dinner at L’Abbaye. Partly it was to say farewell to Liz, our pet/house sitter who was leaving the next day and partly a belated birthday treat for Susie. We had a lovely meal, which was topped off by a specially cooked bread and butter pudding (with candle) for Susie.

We dropped Liz off at Laval rail station early on Saturday morning. She was heading for Paris, then Basel and ultimately the more seductive charms of Budapest. Luckily our early rise allowed us to keep to our usual Saturday routine and have lunch at L’Aromate.

We were on our own, as the other three members of our little lunch club were on holiday, so we thought we could have a quiet meal. Now sometimes the restaurant is booked for a family celebration. Perhaps a baptism or confirmation, or as it was on Saturday, a birthday. Just as we arrived a large group were installing themselves on an extended table near the open kitchen. We sneaked through to our little table while they settled in. After placing our order I noticed (as I was seated facing the group) papers being shuffled. Then someone began to play the accordion in a stumbling, hesitant way. Slowly the refrain of ‘Happy Birthday’ drifted across to our table, landing on our first course plates with a discordant thump. We were then treated to a couple of verses of an unidentifiable ‘chanson’, then thankfully relative silence. Well, as much silence as you can expect at a birthday party attended by three bored infant boys.

Two of these were reasonably well behaved. The third was intent on making as much noise as he could. He stomped round the table. He pushed open any door that wasn’t locked, including the toilet. Thoughtfully he had been provided with some toy cars and a Lego ‘Star Wars’ jet to keep him occupied. Obviously his parents had forgotten to bring his straitjacket. The cars were propelled along the floor as fast as possible and ended up under other diners tables. His parents were oblivious to what he was doing until he picked up a guests expensive Canon digital camera and began altering the settings.

I know it was attention seeking. I know the parents probably had little choice but to bring him along. But to me, it was annoying and only confirmed my belief that I really wasn’t cut out to be a parent, as my desire to stick his head down the loo was almost overwhelming.

We finished our meal, paid and made our way to the door gingerly through the detritus of broken toy cars and disconnected Lego bricks on the floor. I hope L’Aromate is open next week and not closed for rebuilding…

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