Monday, November 10, 2008

Joyful Mother

It was a nice weekend. Son-One-and-Only – hereinafter called Grown-Man-Child - came over twice in a row, once on Friday night and the other Saturday lunchtime . He was hungry on both occasions but his Mother did not cook. Grown-Man-Child and Hubs say they wouldn’t mind going out to eat. She used to say rather indignantly with hands on hips when she didn’t know any better, “And what’s wrong with my cooking?” But those days are gone, “Yippee, let’s go” Mother says – hereinafter called Joyful Mother - as she grabs her coat and shoes and heads for the door at light speed, leaving Hubs and Grown-Man-Child in the dust. Joyful Mother is sitting in the car before they even get to the steps. Joyful Mother can move fast when she has to.

Joyful Mother now cooks for a living and so any time she gets out of cooking at home she is joyful, hence the name – Joyful Mother. She is joyful especially after cooking in a restaurant all day. It is a small restaurant but for the amount of food it produces it might as well be as big as the one they were heading to in her mind, the one that has dozens of staff coming and going, the one that has several cooks in the back and several other young hail-and-hearty whippersnappers to seat you, and several hail-and-hearty whippersnappers to serve you. Not the small restaurant where Joyful Mother works, where there is just her and another Mother – hereinafter called Joyful Mother No. 2 - to do EVERYTHING! Joyful Mother and Joyful Mother Number 2 often wonder why they do what they do, especially on days when two heads are spinning faster than a top and at the end of the day reach for their achy-bone pills. Maybe it’s because of those times they have days that make them smile, like the day of the little girl with her much prized piece of Irish Bacon, maybe that’s why they stay.

But Joyful Mother digresses. All have a wonderful time catching up and eventually leave restaurant and go their separate ways. Grown-Man-Child is seen below. Phone goes and it is Grown-Man-Child’s Sweetheart and Fiancé, who later apologizes for interrupting their time together. She has no need for concern, photo is taken by Joyful Mother who hears the love in his voice and sees the smile on Grown-Man-Child’s face, takes picture and is content that her sweet Grown-Man-Child is happy and has found the love of his life. Hubs and Joyful Mother look at each other and smile. Scene is repeated next day where Joyful Mother heads for the car, again at light speed and is again sitting in the car, before Hubs and Grown-Man-Child’s feet get to the steps. It was fun and Joyful Mother once more did not have to cook and enjoyed the company of Hubs and Grown-Man-Child.

Okay, enough of this Joyful Mother stuff, let me tell you about the little girl who came into our small restaurant with her mother last week. There was also an older sister. The scene that greeted me as I went into the dining room was a very pouty six year old, a bored looking ten year old and their mother who was quietly talking to the pouty six year old. At first Mother had ordered a cup of tea to go, which I had already made and was taking out to her. In the meantime she had been joined by her two daughters who had presumably been waiting in her car right outside the front door. They had told her that they were hungry and wanted to eat. Kids love to play tea-time at that place so I took out a pot of tea and when it came to ordering the meal, ahhhh, there lies the rub.

As often happens I have to translate the menu. What is a Jacket Potato? What is a Banger and what is Mash, a Sausage Sarnie, what is a Cornish Pastie? What are Crumpets? Sausage Roll, what’s that? After answering all questions I asked them if they would like more time to decide, which they did. As I left I turned my head and saw Mother quietly talking to her six year old who by this time had crossed her arms in front of her which she had placed on the table, and she laid her head on her arms and I saw her shaking her head so mournfully, and head just kept shaking the universal answer of pouty children everywhere, it said quite emphatically and irrevocably, “No, no, no, no, no!”

The mother remained calm and patient and kind. I left them a little while longer but eventually I poked my head around the corner and mother asks one more question. “What is your bacon like?” It’s a question often asked. I answer like Polly the Parrot, “It’s Irish bacon and not like American bacon” and add, thinking of the child and not sure if she would like it. “It’s excellent but it's more like a ham and doesn’t crisp up like American bacon.” I hear Mother say, “But you’re not going to like it. I think you would enjoy the chocolate sandwich much better.” Do I hear wailing from that small little body? I see shoulders shaking and hear sobbing, head shaking even more vigorously. Other customers by now have all eyes on little wailing girl and look like they wish they were elsewhere.

I was very tired and have to say that that at that point in time I wanted to be back in the safe haven of the kitchen and dip my whole head into the chocolate spread and eat my way from the bottom up. I’m thinking of going to my kitchen island, sitting down and crossing my own arms in front of me and envision myself placing my head on arms, shaking my own head back and forth, a doppelganger of the six year old in the next room who really wants that bacon at all cost. I started craving chocolate, the spread was calling me. I get that way when I am tired.

I was wondering how long it would be before this scenario played out, and all the time Mother had endless patience dealing with pouty, wailing child. The wailing is getting louder. Mother gives up, “We’ll take two orders of crumpets with lots of butter and jam, and could we have a slice of bacon?” Joyful Mother is back, Joyful Mother smiles sweetly and says, “Yes of course.” Joyful Mother toasts the crumpets, fills the jam and butter pot to overflowing, and fries the Irish Bacon that is not like American Bacon. She takes it all and places it quietly on table where pouty child has miraculously turned into Joyful Child, the smile on her angelic face is radiant. The children enjoy their crumpets, they disappear under a mountain of jam. Truth be known I think they don’t even taste the crumpets. When they depart Joyful Mother picks up their plates and what does she see? Looking ever so lonely is the single piece of Irish Bacon, untouched by Pouty-now-Joyful Child. Ahhh, and there again lies the rub…..Pouty-now-Joyful Child ‘1’, Mother ‘O’.

Joyful Mother is thinking once again of diving into the Chocolate Spread that Pouty-Now-Joyful-Child turned her nose up at. If she had the energy she would slap it all over the always delicious Irish bacon for a wild and incredible concoction. But Joyful Mother would rather get out of there and stop thinking crazy thoughts. She can’t wait to get in her car and head for home. Somehow she manages to stay away from the chocolate spread, and eats a healthy meal she joyfully cooks back home, because she is now truly Joyful Mother who is looking forward to putting her feet up and enjoy the blessedly peaceful and silent evening away from Pouty-now-Joyful Child, who hopefully is now once again Angelic Child, who is tucked up in bed and fast asleep while her mother can enjoy her own peaceful evening. That would be just about perfect world wouldn't it?


  1. Great story Denise - I can see it all so clearly. How do our children learn so early how to get the better of us? It can be funny to the observer but so frustrating to deal with. And most of us have been there at some time or another!

    Pleased to hear you had a "joyful" time with your son and Greg. Can just imagine how you felt. I love those "quality" times.

    A x

  2. Very funny (and sad) story. I would LOVE a Cornish pastie having had them at a now closed English restaurant in Layton, Utah. Here's to The Olde Saint Rose and to you! You deserve a medal for your patience!

  3. It's a great story today... Very sad so !
    Denise, You have a great patience...

    Have a nice day !

  4. I sat here and cried reading this thinking about my own Grown-Man- Child.He is going to be a daddy for the first time in about 2 1/2 weeks.Oh how time flies

  5. The grown-man-child is such an endearing description of these wonderful people - mine is getting marrried Saturday...oh, dear, does he really love someone else more than me?!

  6. i loved this story! as for the food, you dont need to translate it to a new zealander!

  7. LOL! I will now think of you as Joyful Mother and smile :-) It sounds like Irish Bacon is like what we call Canadian Bacan? As a child I loved it but have not had any for years. It all sounds good to me and I definitely want to come visit your tea shop someday!

  8. I loved this post! Your storytelling was superb, from Joyful Mother being with her son and Hubs and getting to go to the restaurant both days, to the pouty-then-wailing child! It was all so delightful to read! Sp. so sweet getting to spend time with your son! I don't know how you have such patience with customers when there are trials like are stronger and braver than I! Your restaurant sounds so great and I would love to eat there!

    Great post! Hope you have a great week! Take care--