THE BLOG

An Open Letter to Janet Street Porter

24/11/2015 15:46 GMT | Updated 24/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Dear Janet,

What an interesting few minutes I had this morning reading your article about how much you despise sharing restaurants and cafes with kids.

You may be surprised to know that even though I'm a mother, I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with you. Being accompanied by children when you're trying to have some adult time and enjoy a good meal and a fine glass of wine is hell. Particularly when those children are your own.

As you sit at your table for two, indulging in adult conversation and glaring at the toddler who's just come over to you and tried to offer you her squished biscuit or greet you with a dribbly grin, spare a thought for her poor, exhausted parents who have to share an actual table with her.

It's all very well saying that the old-fashioned discipline and sentiment that "children should be seen and not heard" has all but disappeared, but have you ever tried explaining to a toddler that they need to sit at their high-chair for the next hour or so, be quiet and nod appreciatively at the scintillating conversation? It's impossible.

The reality of dining with a toddler is that they have the attention span of a goldfish, need to move about every few seconds, like to throw food and sometimes spit it everywhere and are totally and utterly unpredictable. It is a stressful, smelly and often embarrassing affair.

However, what options do I have Janet? Should I steer clear of the restaurants that I love? Should I swap a delicious steak and glass of wine for a soggy sandwich at the local soft play centre? Do you expect parents to spend all of their spare time hanging out in disgusting venues tailor made for children where we spend our time anti-baccing every surface for fear of encountering sick that should have been cleaned a week ago (this actually happened to me in a horrid toddler cafe a few weeks ago).

The answer is no. No I blimming well should not. I'm exhausted. I work and bring up a child and I like good food and nice surroundings as much as you do. Unfortunately I can't always find a babysitter and my daughter is part of the family so the chances are that she'll be there too.

Oh and don't even think of shoving me in a "child and parents section". It's too depressing a thought for words.

So Janet, if you ever encounter me and my rowdy toddler in a restaurant, perhaps you could offer to babysit her for a couple of minutes? I'll buy you a glass of wine and be eternally grateful.

All the best

Nicola Bonn aka Upfront Mama

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