Pre-fatherhood, the child-friendly pub garden is a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell – all nails on chalk boards and little goblins running around – but PLOT TWIST! When you have some nippers of your own, these places become your port in a storm, your sanctuary. The place where you go to drink precisely three pints on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with other like-minded people who can’t understand what’s happened to their lives either. They’re great.
Here are the rules of the child-friendly pub garden:
Don’t get utterly smashed – this isn’t 2004. Letting your hair down a little bit is encouraged, but going hell for leather and hitting the shots isn’t a good look. You have children now. Look, they’re over there, playing massive jenga.
Always look at least 20 per cent happier than you really are – because no matter how discombobulated sleep deprivation is making you, a kid-friendly pub garden isn’t the place for your existential meltdown. If you want to sob into a Staropramen, go to a wine bar.
Make sure your child has a name you can shout across a crowded garden – unfortunately, this rules out Vaginus, Dicken and Cher. And Andromeda. Everything else is mostly acceptable.
Don’t delve too deep into the toy box – these places often have little treasure troves full of treats. Only, in this case, the treats smell like a thousand nappies and they’re literally all covered in tuberculosis. Take your own things, that’s the point.
Only ever be super-friendly to strangers – face it, you’re not Cooly McCool-Guy anymore. You’re a dad, at the pub, with children, surrounded by other dads in the same predicament. So, do everyone a favour, and leave your trademark curmudgeonly behaviour in the office, and embrace it. This is your life now, these people are your people.