I always knew a Valentine’s Day with a six month old was going to be a challenge, but I really wanted to celebrate this one. This year, we had Ivor, and it felt like for the first time in years, we had something to actually celebrate on Valentine’s Day beyond the usual platitudes that Al and I don’t really go in for really. So I booked a table at Bill’s Restaurant on Park Street, near to Alex’s work. This meant we could have dinner straight after work and get Ivor home for his natural bedtime of nine pm. Bill’s isn’t exactly known for romance and candlelight, so it seemed a good place to take a baby without upsetting too many people with plans to propose.
Valentines Day arrived, and it’s pissing it down, and I’ve got to walk uphill for twenty five minutes with a buggy to the restaurant. I’m suddenly wondering why the hell I couldn’t have just booked Giraffe which is across the road in Cabot Circus. Still, who wants to go somewhere they go all time on Valentine’s Day right? By the time I arrive, fifteen minutes late due to the cat and the dog both doing unexpected and unwanted poops in the house (they had broken into a bag of dog food that didn’t agree with Rigoletto the day before and now the consequences were all over my hallway floor) Alex was already most of the way through his first glass of table water and thrilled to see us. Ivor was asleep in his buggy still thanks to the brilliant “Rockit” and we had a lovely toast to each other. It was all lovely and romantic.
Of course even the Rockit won’t keep a six month old asleep forever. Our ten blissful minutes were up.
For the first time, our trusty Lobster highchair let us down due to an unusually large lip on the tables at Bill’s so we had to use one of thier highchairs. Ivor was, of course, furious. He protested almost immediately, arching his back and throwing his arms around like his was being attacked by killer bees. As a result he spent the majority of our starters on our laps as we tried to eat with one hand, whilst shoving all cutlery, glasses and menus into a pile in the middle of the table.
With lots of wedged blankets we did get Ivor to sit in the highchair long enough to eat his pears peas and cinnamon but even Super Simple’s “Baby Shark” didn’t keep him in there long. Part of the problem is the damn highchairs in restaurants (other than the ones that sensibly stock the white IKEA ones) all seem be made for toddlers rather an babies. It was way to big for him, and no inserts or anything are ever provided. Yes. You can try and prop them up with blankets but it never holds them for long once they start wriggling. So we spend most of our main course arguing as we tried to secure him in the highchair so he could watch YouTube and play with his Sassy highchair wheel. About ten minutes in we gave up and just swapped knees every five minutes until we’d both finished our food whilst barely speaking to each other.
A friend was eating in the same restaurant and came over to say hi. And what did my darling child do? Cry, scream, threw his spoon and then threw up a little bit. This was the same friend who my dog Rigoletto once humped so vigorously in the pub that she left with a wet ankle, so she’s probably starting to wonder if our friendship is really worth it.
As we’d come this far, and it was still pissing it down outside we decided we might as well prolong this stressfest by having dessert and ordered the baked Alaska to share. Ivor, now sat on his Dad’s lap was bouncing around like a jack in a box and hurling himself forward in an attempt to ruin our beautifully presented dessert. Props to Alex for managing to keep everything except three stray baby fingers out of it.
Packing up to set off home resulted in another argument. I can’t remember exactly what it was about now. I know Ivor was screaming his head off and refusing to be strapped into the buggy and and it was all Alex’s fault in the heat of the moment.
“Let’s stay in next year, shall we” says my cant-help-but-be-sarcastic husband and we both burst out laughing.
So was it actually worth it? Should we have actually just stayed in like all the other people with babies? Well, we probably would’ve been less stressed. But we’d also have nothing to remember. We most likely would have watched something like The Real Marigold Hotel and then fallen asleep on the sofas with two half drunk glasses of wine left to go sour on the coffee table. It would’ve been any other night with a baby. And to be honest, less than a week later as I write this I’m already forgetting why we argued or how annoyed I was with Ivor at times. I do remember Ivor dancing on his Dad’s knew and desperately trying to mash the baked Alaska. I remember smiling as he started babbling his baby talk at the top of his lungs and the man at the table next to us smiling at us, and probably wondering if we were certifiably insane. I remember that we went out with our baby, who we love unconditionally and more than anything else in the world on a day that is supposed to celebrate love. Our night out was:
20% wrestling with a baby that wouldn’t sit in his fucking highchair
20% looking for muslins
And 0% romance.
But we all still love each other. We might not always choose the easiest option, but we usually choose one we will remember. Alex said that he was “…glad we are still trying to do this stuff”. And that’s exactly the point. As a family we are a big fuck you to all the blogs and buzzfeed articles listing great ways to spend Valentine’s Day, which basically boil down to “stay in and give up trying to be anything but a parent.”