There's nothing guaranteed to have mummy and daddy at each other's throats in my world than a discussion about where we should eat lunch when we're out.
My beloved will exhaust all our good humour by insisting on taking us to;
a) a cafe with no parking;
b) yum cha which, while delicious, seems to be an experience destroyed by young children (except young Asian children, who seem to have a great time with their families for hours on end)
c) back home, where we can "damn well" have cheese on toast (ignoring my arguments that we have cheese on toast every day during the week.)
Like many citizens of this part of the city, he adamantly refuses to entertain the notion of eating at a burger joint, which is almost always my suggestion. It's not that he doesn't like the food - when he's with his buddies, for example, he can be seen eating the equivalent of a wilder beast worth of beef (plus cheese, sauce, bacon, and anything else on offer) between multiple sesame-seed buns.
But with us in tow, inexplicably, he becomes the Heart Foundation Five Tick monitor. And I become the most evil mother since Joan Crawford brandished her coat hanger.
Let me state, here and categorically, that I am not on principle opposed to fast food. It's not great, it's certainly not an "every day" food and a lot of it is pure junk. But it is a simple fact of life that cheap, hot food served in roomy, kid-friendly restaurants will always have some appeal, even if every atom of your being is screaming "Deforestation! Calories! Trans-fat! The horror of the abattoir! Battery hens!"
In order to assuage my guilt about occasionally patronising these places, I do make an effort in my every day shopping to buy organic, recyclable, sustainable products and minimise packaging. I promise! But with small children in tow and a limited amount of time in which to have hot food in front of said children, I can not see the harm in a burger, a few fries, and a cup of milk, served up in five minutes flat.
Especially when I prepare roughly 11 meals every day for the family (four for breakfast and dinner, three for lunch). I do get, simply put, bloody sick of cooking, and I'm not that crash hot at it at the best of times.
We managed to talk daddy around the other day, on a Friday night after an afternoon with a foul-tempered toddler and an occasionally angry eight month old. Evil as I may be judged, as soon as I set the little burger and small handful of fries in front of my toddler (and a bit of a bun in front of the baby), we had blessed peace for the next five minutes which was almost worth the initial spat, scowl and (mutual) sulk.
I don't think it will ever be easy for me to roll everyone into a fast food restaurant and I suppose it's a good thing that someone is trying to keep the kids arteries free of fatty crud. I'm sure there will come a day when I'm begging the kids to stay out of burger joints ... and no doubt, knowing our relationship well, my dear husband will be accusing me of everything from being a kill joy to covertly working for organics activists!
Dita De Boni
AP Photo / Michael Sohn