Our frustrated bruncher ponders why parents bring their offspring
To many people, the sight of a small child with a face covered in chocolate is endearing, prompting a soppy grin and a gentle ‘Kids – what are they like, eh?’ I am not one of these people. You see, the reason that the child is coated head, shoulders, knees and toes in dessert is usually because they’ve had their face and other body parts in the chocolate fountain.
And it’s not just any chocolate fountain. If it were at a six-year-old’s birthday party, fine – knock yourselves out, my toddling friends – but when I’ve just handed over the best part of Dhs500 for brunch at a five-star hotel, I don’t expect it to come with a side of snot. Of course, not all kids behave like newly-escaped chimps, but the ones I encounter at brunch invariably do.
Before you start imagining me with an overly large nose, a black top hat and a giant net, à la Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Child Catcher, I feel compelled to point out that I do actually like children. But I still don’t want their sticky hands grabbing hold of my new dress.
Mercifully, some brunches are geared up to deal with armies of screeching under-12s, throwing well-supervised crèche and games rooms into the deal, where parents can ditch the kids and help the rest of us preserve our sanity and, more importantly, the dessert table. But here’s one of the real things that bothers me: how is it that some parents can afford to bring a gaggle of juniors to a brunch when I can only just afford to go once a month? Why not stretch to a babysitter and leave the kids at home? Okay, a lot of the time it’s half price for children, but it’s not free, and I fail to see how Dhs200 is a bargain for one child’s lunch. Most parents I see at brunch don’t even spend time with their offspring, but put them on an entirely separate table, and barely engage with them at all. I feel almost as sorry for these kids as I do angry with the one face down in the umm ali.
Yet it hasn’t stopped me booking in for the final brunch before August, and with a special dining partner. I’m a little anxious, because the last time we brunched he spilt raspberry coulis over both of us, smashed a glass and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ so loudly the couple on the next table asked to be moved. But hey, that’s my dad.