Keeping Mum
Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Sunday: No longer a fun brunch day


I've often said to my husband that no one ever went broke building a cafe catering to parents and their kids.

And based on the number of them around, crammed to the gunnels with strollers, prams, harried looking parents and bored looking kids on any given Sunday, I'd say I'm still on the money.

Because, it seems to me that of all things you miss when you parent young children, a leisurely brunch with multiple coffees, papers, a mixed grill and a good chat afterwards has to come top of the list.

It's for that reason that many parents continue, week after week, long after the pursuit has proven totally futile, to keep up their tradition of leisurely Sunday brunches with their children in tow.

Leisurely it is not, needless to say. Today was a case in point. As I have written previously, our toddler is one of those Mt Eden dauphins who regularly gets treated to a fluffy, but even he has about a 15 minute grace period before the fluffy goes south drenching everything in its path.

But not only in this case did it drench the toddler and his surrounds; it also drenched half of my breakfast which I had handed over to toddler when he demanded it 5 minutes earlier.

Daddy's breakfast was safe, but only because he'd been clever enough to eat it at the speed of lightening once it was placed in front of him.

While our seven month old daughter flung every piece of cutlery off the table and onto the floor, our neighbour's toddler was running three toy trucks across my plate and attempting to strike up conversation with me. Neighbour's baby was crying loudly.

Suddenly we had to physically pick up our seats and move out of the way when a group of - count them - five sets of adults and their babies, their prams, their baby bags and what seemed like the entire contents of their nurseries attempted to shovel by!

And as anyone who has any kind of passing acquaintance with today's strollers knows, they have, like SUVs, only got bigger and more pavement-hogging as time has gone by. Umbrella strollers are seemingly out; triple-decker family all-in-one sleep and play entertainment units are the order of the day, most of them barely able to fit in a room by themselves let alone a room filled with families, tables and busy waitstaff!

Being a cafe designed for families, there was a sandpit which the toddlers repaired to after driving their parents mad for the obligatory 15 minutes. Unfortunately no sandpit on earth is ever going to be big enough for ten toddlers to play peacefully in, and of course parents have to drag themselves away from their hard-earned seats to be able to dispense law and order (sternly when your child is out of order; uncomfortably when the other child is out of order; in a mock-confused fashion when the culprit can't be found but you're sure it's NOT your child!)

There is no peace in this pursuit, and those attempting to find it are, quite simply, wasting their time. More than once at such cafes I've seen women arch their eyebrows as their menfolk's eyes linger longingly on the Sunday papers. Forget it! They're saying. Don't you dare!

Enterprising folk in Ponsonby have apparently built a cafe where kids can be "babysat" while their parents imbibe their lattes in peace. I say apparently because there is absolutely never any parking outside this fabled establishment which must, I suppose, prove that it does exactly as it's claimed to do.

In the meantime the rest of us must cram into the remaining family-friendly joints, exchange knowing sighs with other diners and hide longing looks at the magazine rack. And try to keep our kids from driving every other diner in the place into a state of permanent - and blissful - childlessness!

Dita De Boni

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