21 November 2009

Indian and a revelation

We decided to take Hartley to Harrods today, to buy him a gift for Christmas. That was stupid.

There were protesters outside with gory signs of animal cruelty, I guess because Harrods sells fur. I wish they’d managed to dissuade at least seventy percent of the oblivious, pushy masses who held us suspended amidst their throng. It made it very difficult for us to linger too long over the Paddington Bears and real-haired rocking horses.

In the end, we decided his gift – all gifts – would be best purchased in the family friendliest shop on earth – the Internet.

That left us with part of an afternoon in town to kill before slinking back to the outskirts, our aspiring middle-class tails between our weary legs. And that is when we struck upon the most ingenious plan of all: Bruce went to see a film at the Odeon in Covent Garden and I took Hartley to my favourite Indian restaurant in the Universe - Mela.

They were very kind to us in Mela, bringing Hartley free mango lassies and tickling him with a Phillips head screw driver (I don’t know) and pinching his cheeks. Hartley left in his wake a trail of naan, pilau rice and his own baby snacks, but the staff remained unfazed, and continued to approach us throughout the meal to make sure he was still smiling away, which he was.

At the end of the meal I tried to pay, but my server said, “Next time,” and gave me a knowing smile and nod. “Pardon?” I said, playing dumb, just to make sure. “It’s on us,” he said and nodded again, this time with no room for argument. It was probably due to the fact that I found a tiny silver slug, which had come loose from one of their cooking pans, in my dish.

I saw it glinting amidst piles of saucy chicken before it became an issue and thought I should draw their attention to it. They probably bought their pans from the same kitchen supply shop, and I didn’t want someone less understanding to find a bolt in their food when all the pans decide to simultaneously self-destruct.

No biggie, and I ate everything just to show them that I wasn’t going to let a little piece of metal get between me and my dinner. I’m sure this is why they didn’t make me pay, but part of me thinks it might have more to do with the fact that Hartley brings the party wherever we go, with that infectious smile and a sleeveful of tricks.

On the bus on the way home, Hartley was having a feed and probably slipped off the breast or something because he totally lost his shit. We cooed and tutted over him and knew that he was just probably very tired. He’d had a long day, and it was already past his bedtime.

It struck me though, that the reason we no longer panic about his occasionally extreme moods isn’t so much because we have more experience, but because we know him now. He’s no longer this tiny, foreign being who can’t be consoled or figured out. We’ll always know – I hope we’ll always know – how to read our boo, because he’s ours.

We’re all three of us in the midst, at all times, of creating this tiny person named Hartley, and I really do think we're exceeding our expectations.

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