COLM O'REGAN: Most humbling thing? Eating your words.

“Truly humbling,” say some award-winners on receiving their gong. I call bullshit, writes Colm O’Regan.

Winning awards isn’t humbling. Most humbling thing? Eating your words.

The greatest word-binge is when you eat the reams of promises you made about parenting before you were a parent. And the main course for that meal of your own childfree opinions? Eating out.

I remember in our statistically happier days many times when I was in a restaurant, looking at the menu marvelling at the variety, avoiding the celeriac and then turning to the kiddies’ menu with disgust.

“Look at it. Sausages. Ughh. What are they putting into their sainted children’s biomes Sausages. Probably made by Monsanto from genetically modified crows. How could they? 

"And what’s this? CHICKEN NUGGETS? There’s more chicken in an apple. And of course chips. Made from Potatex. 

Most humbling thing? Eating your words.

"Please somebody pass the kefir to rub in my eyes, I think I’m going blind. These children should be eating ancient grains, steeped overnight in wisdom. They should be building up gut bacteria by licking the ergot off a bean sprout.”

We used to make our choices — never the superfood salad, always the blackpudding-in-a-hedge starter and some sort of carcass for main course — and look at each other and sigh about what bad parents other people were. 

Little did we know that the hardest thing about being a good parent is having children.

We are truly humbled by the humble pie we have had to order off the kiddies’ menu and feed to ourselves as a starter. 

We haven’t just changed our tune, we’ve thrown out all our CDs and put the hi-fi up on Adverts.

Because eating with small children is like eating as part of a witness protection programme. My wife and I are FBI agents protecting some thoroughly obstreperous young women.

We scout out a place in advance. What are the escape routes? Who are the other clientele? Are there other worse-behaved children in there already that will provide us with cover? 

Or innocent civilians reading books with titles like The Life-changing Magic of Being Able to Just Sit With a Book in Peace: Is That Too Much To Ask who could be hurt when our two start ululating.

Once the venue has been selected, we need a table that allows us a quick exit in case we are compromised, and most importantly, we demand the kids’ menu.

To hell with ancient grains. We need food that is yellow, robust, contains protein of a number of different animals, and possibly food dye that is currently the subject of an FDA investigation in the US, but will be allowed through by the Republicans. 

Plus chips. And bring the chips as soon as they are ready. 

And what are we having? Most of theirs and whatever some other customer has rejected. Whatever is ready. 

How much will that be? Here it is in exact coins. Bring two high chairs and no small talk, thank you waiter.

Most humbling thing? Eating your words.

Because when we eat out with under-threes and under-ones, this is a war. Even in ’Allo ’Allo the French Resistawnce ate on ze hoof.

Restaurants are also terrible places to negotiate. And it brings a tear to your eye when your little baby grows into a fine young strapped-in blackmailer.

No treats, no threats, I’m sure we said before the labour ward. 

Now we are hapless middle management trying to prevent a strike of Team Aer Lingus Craft Workers in front of the glare of very local media.

“If you behave like that you won’t get any ice cream,” is our opening negotiating tactic. 

Before you could say “RTÉ’s industrial correspondent Ingrid Miley” this has become diluted to “FINE, HAVE ALL THE MELTED ICE CREAM OFF THE FLOOR, I’M GETTING A PINT”.

And when I’m on my hands and knees cleaning up a floor that looks like it has seen a foodfight happen above it, then am I truly humbled.


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