Our daughter has never drunk coffee, tea, hot drinks. She isn’t much of a drinker in fact, and often has to be coaxed to put cup to lip, and sip. We make sure we always have enough of her favourite drink in the house and take plenty when we go away. Oh, if only she would drink water. Well, she does very occasionally, but not often enough.

We have tried a variety of drinking vessels over the years and recently scoured the internet for suppliers of the one tried and tested cup that she can manage but which seems to be going out of fashion now. We’re always asking friends to buy up any they see. Just in case.

Recently one of her carers asked why she is never offered tea or coffee (decaffeinated, she was quick to add). We explained that our girl found hot drinks particularly difficult and had always refused them, turning her face away resolutely. Was it simply the temperature, we wondered? It couldn’t be the taste. She loves coffee and walnut cake and cappuccino mousse. She’s happily eaten green tea muffins.The carer tried giving her a warm cup of lovingly prepared herbal tea with honey the next day. No dice.

In and around the seaside town where we live there is no lack of bars, eateries and coffee shops. We often go out to cafes at the weekend as a family, for coffee before a walk on the seafront, for lunch to break up a home day when it’s raining, or for tea to celebrate a good day. We like tea.

We’ve had refreshments in all kinds of establishments. We bring our girl her own drink; there’s always one in her backpack. Rarely can she be persuaded to partake of the smoothies, juices and cordials on the menu. Waiting staff don’t seem to mind and often offer us 3 glasses of water to accompany our 2 coffees or teas and know to bring a straw without being asked. The third glass usually remains untouched.

Our recent trip to another seaside resort included a visit to a Victorian tearoom on the pier where we enjoyed a cream tea of sorts sitting beneath a fantastical plastic chandelier which glittered in the afternoon light. Our daughter was mesmerised at first by this and then concentrated on the matter in hand, devouring her (small) scone and jam. She refused her drink. After we’d finished, she was eager to move to the cake counter to check out the display but we steered her clear and left to start our journey home.

As often happens in these situations, she had caught the attention of a customer at a neighbouring table who averted her eyes whenever I met her gaze. Finally she caved in and smiled at me. Was it knowingly, I wondered? I said nothing to her but smiled back. Some people we encounter on our outings are openly curious about our daughter and ask questions or try to engage her. At times they have their own stories to tell and it’s nice to make connections.

Generally our daughter enjoys looking around and soaking up the atmosphere for a while as we linger over our beverages until inevitably she demands entertainment. In the old days, out would come her books or a favourite toy. Now though, it’s screen time she is after. As with many coffee shop habitués, as long as there is wifi our girl is more than happy to sit glued to her tablet, occasionally tapping it in her search of another video clip or interactive story. Her fine motor skills have come on apace as she swipes and scrolls in her way, pointing at the little white arrow in the red box that takes her to what she knows will make her laugh. I should say that we always try to keep the volume down. The tablet’s that is, not hers.

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