Much to the children’s delight, their father and I are prone to outbreaks of ridiculous behaviour. Entire afternoons pass where one may communicate only in song, or with a balloon up one’s jumper. The family ‘team chant’ is one such element of this farce, the origins of which are long-forgotten but may well have stemmed from a larger than usual glass of red with the Sunday roast. Essentially, we link hands and raise our arms aloft whilst adopting extremely poor American accents for a variety of baseball-style motivational shout-outs. For some reason this continues to be disproportionately funny.
We have taken the children into town for lunch at a rather nice bistro. They are on their best behaviour, having been threatened with the removal of CBeebies should they step out of line. We order the requisite chicken nuggets and chips for the children, something rather more grown-up for ourselves, and the waitress leaves us with the wine menu.
Two year old G grabs my hand, and that of her sister.
“Go team!” She giggles.
Like Pavlov’s dogs we automatically link hands around the table, just as the waitress returns with her pen and paper.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” She says. She takes a step back and waits patiently, pad down by her side. She bows her head slightly. How extraordinary. I notice that the elderly couple at the next table have put down their cutlery mid-meal, and have their hands in their laps.
“Honey.” My husband hisses. “I believe they think we’re about to say Grace.”
A hush has descended over the restaurant. A few people are looking across at us expectantly. Right. This is awkward. I could just let go of my children’s hands and pour some water or something, just to break the ice. Or I could…
“Dear Lord.” I begin confidently. Oh shit – what now? I haven’t said Grace in years. The man at the next table is nodding approvingly. “Um, we are gathered here today…” No, that’s weddings. “Thank you for this wondrous feast, delivered to our table by…” I sneak a glance at our waitress’s name badge. “Angela. For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”
“Amen.” My husband replies fervently, with a barely perceptible tremor of mirth.
“Amen.” Mutter the couple at the next table, picking up their knives and forks to continue their meal.
“Go team!” Cheer my children, seeing nothing amiss in this surreal interlude.
I sigh and pick up my glass. Yet another restaurant we won’t be able to visit again. Mind you – that’s got to mean a few Brownie points scored with God, so it’s not all bad.