“What about bitty?” I ask.
We’re in a restaurant in Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia). I’ve read that it’s good to teach your baby words that they can associate with certain actions.
“No! No way! No bloody way!” replies Zsuzsa.
I use my heightened sense of perception that I’ve developed since becoming a Dad, read between the lines, and take it as a ‘maybe’ from Zsuzsa that she’s okay with bitty being our chosen command word for breast feeding,
“Or din-dins?” I suggest, ever the helpful man.
“She’s not a dog!”
The waiter appears.
“Are you ready to order?”
“Yes.” I say. “I’d like the veal chops please and my wife would like the salmon.”
By the way, she’d already told me this. I’m not a control freak like that fella from Fifty Shades of Grey (who I know is called Christian Grey, but think if I call him ‘fella’ it makes me sound like fractionally less of a loser).
“Very good.” says the waiter, and turns to leave.
“Actually, one more thing.” I say, stopping him in his tracks. I point at Zsuzsa. “Could I have my meal ten minutes before hers?”
The waiter looks at me like I’m some kind of insane, power crazed husband who only allows his wife to eat once he’s finished. He thinks I’m Donald Trump.
“It’s so we can juggle the baby.” I add, reading his muddled brain.
Seemingly satisfied, the waiter scurries off.
This staggered meal arrival plan is all part of our grand masterplan to allow us to carry on, more or less as normal, despite now being tasked with keeping a tiny, fleshy human alive. We are determined to still travel, and we are determined to still frequent restaurants. In order to do so, our restaurant visiting process now goes a little something like this…
- A scouting mission where one of us enters the restaurant beforehand to case the joint. In this scouting mission we assess the venue based on noise levels, ambience, buggy friendliness, toilet accessibility, likelihood of Mila approving of the decor, nappy changing facilities and places to hide if our baby goes ape-shit.
- Book a table at an unsociable hour, when pretty much nobody else is likely to be in the restaurant for dinner (ie 1730).
- Tip toe in, smiling at everyone apologetically for things that may happen in the future.
- Sit down and take turns at inhaling our food while the other wanders around the restaurant with Mila.
- Pull the rip cord and leg it when Mila starts to scream like a fox having sex.
- Travel home with indigestion.
Now back to Slovenia.
Five minutes go by and my veal appears. I begin inhaling juvenile cow. Twenty seconds later and my young cow is gone. I fill the time before Zsuzsa’s salmon arrives by necking wine like Oliver Reed. The salmon arrives, Zsuzsa hands me Mila and then sticks her face in her fish (not a euphemism). Mila is getting restless so I give her my phone to chew.
“How about boob-time?” I say.
“Nope.” says Zsuzsa.
“Map” says Mila.
“Here is the map.” says Siri.
I look at our nearly 7 month old baby girl in amazement.
“Mila just activated Siri on my iPhone and then said map!” I say.
“Well done!” says Zsuzsa.
“Maybe she’s a genius!” I say.
Mila blows a raspberry and then begins to scream.
“Can we get the bill?” I holler.
Within two minutes we’ve abandoned ship and hit the mean streets of Ljubljana, young cow and fish fuelled indigestion raging in our bellies.
“I don’t understand people who say they can’t carry on as normal when they have a baby.” I say. “We still travel! We still go to restaurants! Our life has hardly changed in that respect.”
“I know.” says Zsuzsa as we hurry back to our cramped hotel room, to ensure that we can all be in bed by seven o’clock on a Saturday night.