As the activities wound down though our brood realised they were utterly famished, despite eating copious amounts of DH's aunt's patented amazing fishcakes and assorted fruit and crackers. There would be no getting this lot back in the car until they were fed. Again.
So we decided to do something radical. We took the kids out for felafel tonight. We rarely ever eat out so this was a big deal for all concerned. It seemed like the perfect place, Ajami's, a veteran little hole in the wall felafel and shwarma place on a quietish sidestreet next to a large open area of pavement with space for kids to play away from the crowds of busier city centre eateries.
Outdoor on the terrace a large French family occupying a huge long table was just finishing up their dinner. At one of the few indoor tables a uniformed security guard, clearly a regular, was tucking in to a tray of kubbeh, salad and lemonade brought to him with a smile by the owner. It looked like the right kind of place.
I managed to get everyone seated, two oldest outside with me, DH inside with the other three little people while I stood at the counter to quickly order the starving masses their fodder. Well as quickly as one can trying to take in to account the preferences of five ravenous but opinionated children who may just have been hungry enough to eat the furniture while they were waiting.
The staff were incredibly efficient and the kids were soon tucking in to fresh hot food, well, except for a twin who just wanted to take his brothers' chips and grab/play with an (unplugged) fan switch.
The utterly exhausted overtired big two who'd spent the afternoon schlepping around ruins and learning to fight like knights were eating happily but still kind of kicking each other under the table in a mostly playful fashion.
One kid decided to take apart their pita so they could eat all the parts individually because it's more fun than you know table manners or anything like that. The paper their food was wrapped was soon littered with torn hummous tehina smeared laffa and falafel balls while they picked out the cucumber tomato and pickles - their favourite parts - to eat first. With their hands. Which of course were now also smeared with hummous and tehina.
By now two kids had finished wolfing down their meal and were playing a game of tag around the (mostly empty) outdoor terrace, wide stone steps and public square. It was evening, the street was far from crowded and truth be told there was plenty of space for them to play without disturbing anyone but still, DH and I don't usually allow this kind of behaviour in a public thoroughfare.
Then the twins who'd been sitting indoors noticed a cat sitting on a wall and dashed out of the dinky diner with delighted shrieks of "Tul! Tul!" (short for hatul, Hebrew for cat). They plonked themselves down on the step below the wall and contented themselves with pointing at the surprisingly chilled feline, watching them coolly from her perch.
At this point the owner came over striding briskly and I was so ready for the comment, a comment, something negative, someone is making a mess or misbehaving. Instead she stops right in front of me and beams: "Oh, are the kids at both these tables all yours? Such sweet kids, love how they are all smiling and enjoying their food and full of life with a bit of mischief thrown in. Next time you come you're welcome to leave them here for a bit, I'd be happy to babysit. Make sure you get them all some lemonade for dessert. On the house of course."