Charlotte Philby's parental leave: 'It's clear that my smiles and tips have been misinterpreted'

A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline

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Indy Lifestyle Online

After a night or two of terror as I lie alone in my yurt, I become rather partial to My Lone Vacation – partial to the lunches for one, and to the silence. But there comes a point, in the middle of the day, when I yearn for a bit of company beyond that of the donkey who lives up the path – yearn for a small slice of human interaction to punctuate the chasm of Me Time. So it is that I take to hanging out at lunchtime at a picturesque café with a grand view of the waves and the rolling rocks beyond, and which is within spitting distance of the retreat where I'm spending four blissful nights.

At first, the waiters – a gaggle of silver-haired gentlemen who scuttle between tables speaking super-speed Spanish to foreign tour groups, who stare back before answering in their native German – seem amiable enough. Which stokes my occasionally overexcited enthusiasm for friendship. (I am reminded of delivering a brilliantly realised soliloquy in newly acquired French after an afternoon of pastis in the bar of the Languedoc village in which my father lived, only to be met by the words from my local drinking partner: "Are you ill?")

Back in the restaurant, things seem to be going better until – on the last day of my stay – it becomes clear that my eager smiles and generous tips may have been misinterpreted. As the eldest of the waiting crew deposits my bread on the table while rolling the gold ring on his finger and glancing regretfully towards my swollen belly, I see myself through his eyes: a slightly younger, pregnant, Shirley Valentine. "OK!" I shout, jumping from my seat: "Bye! Ciao!"

motherland.net

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