The following post is dedicated to the makers of children’s menus everywhere. I know I speak for both Jennifer and myself when I say “we miss you.”
If parents had a dime for every double edge sword we encountered as we guided our children through the gauntlet of adolescence, we might have enough money to pay for the therapy we they will surely need when all is said and done.
You want them to grow up and expand their boundaries…. until they actually do just that – and then you realize what a colossal pain in the ass it is to be living with miniature adults. In no instance is this truer than with the consumption of food.
All you parents of young children past and present know the drill. You have a new taste sensation to introduce. It could be as benign as a sweet and yummy yam or as evil as a raw oyster. You put a dollop of it on their plate and plead “Just try it!” in hopes that they will develop a palate that is not limited only to food that is yellow. For the first ten years of their lives (+/– 2 years depending on the kid), they either cry their way out of trying anything new or they take the tiniest smidgen of a bite and declare that they don’t like it before it touches their taste buds. You sigh and let them wash the offending tidbit down with a hefty spoonful of mac n’ cheese, thinking that maybe you’ll try again next week month year.
Fast forward to age 11 or so and suddenly they start to order their cheese steaks with FRIED ONIONS. Yes, those fried onions that you have picked out of past ill-prepared cheese steaks, lest you have your little cherub gag and hack at the table as if he just bit down on a live lady bug. Upon taking his order, you want to ask your kid, “So when did you start liking fried onions?” but you don’t. You keep your mouth shut because it is becoming clear that your caterpillar of a picky eater is about to become an epicurious butterfly.
It is a beautiful thing. It is. But then one evening you are out to dinner at the neighborhood Italian place and you hear the six words that will forever remind you to be careful what you wish for:I will have the shrimp scampi.
The pride you feel watching your child order a decidedly sophisticated platter at a decidedly unsophisticated restaurant is short lived, as you notice that shrimp scampi is $16.95. Or put another way, it is 3 times more expensive than the kid’s ravioli in butter sauce. And it doesn’t include a juice box and an ice cream cup for dessert. All of that is a la carte now.
Since the brothers abandoned the children’s menu with all its limited glory, the cost of dining out for us has skyrocketed. Now when the hostess asks if we need any kid’s menus, we look to our young offspring only to have our hopeful gaze returned with the eyes of death. We politely decline.
Our dreams of one day enjoying a sushi dinner with our sons has been fulfilled to the tune of $100 an evening. The guacamole in the house is now at high risk to be consumed as an after school snack. The other day Dave was expounding on the succulent attributes of foie gras to a rapt audience of two. Ethical issues aside, it was all I could do not to throw myself on top of him and prevent that grenade from exploding into $25 appetizer sometime in the near future.
As with every double edged sword we have encountered thus far – and every one we will face in the next 5-7 years – I say this: Sure it is difficult in many ways letting them become more complex human beings. While it makes your job as a parent easier in some respects, it some how always seems harder in others. But just remember the alternative to them maturing is NOT maturing – and that is not an option.
My sons will not be eating chicken nuggets at their weddings. Shrimp scampi, perhaps. No foie gras.