I take my kids out for lunch or dinner once every couple of weeks. There are three restaurants that we go to, all of which have children’s menus. In fact, my husband and I have taken our kids to a restaurant without a children’s menu exactly one time, and I’ll let you guess how that worked out. But some restaurants think that children’s menus are insulting and are starting provide meals for kids that are adaptations of their adult dishes. To this I say, “You really respect your food, and that is nice. I really respect my indoor voice, and I will be staying home.”
The Washington Post’s Lifestyle section has an article called, “Advocates Want Restaurants To Stop Catering To Young Diners With Kid’s Menus.” Lynn Fredericks, (who is a much more optimistic person than I am) has started a campaign called Kids Food Reboot, whose goal is, according to the Post:
“…to get restaurants to adapt their kids’ menus to rely less on frozen french fries and other beige fried foods and more on healthful, fresh and — most important — interesting choices for young diners. Given the chance to eat, say, spaghetti squash or broccoli rabe, children will rise to the occasion, Fredericks says.”
I admire this movement, but I want no part of it. Fortunately, this works out, because right now the restaurants involved are more upscale eateries and not places I would be tempted to bring my kids to. Parents who are taking their kids to those kinds of restaurants are likely to have different expectations for their little eaters anyway. My goals when I eat out with my kids are a) no cooking, and b) no screaming. I don’t want to ruin my evening with negotiations and arguments, and I don’t want to ruin everybody else’s while they listen to me try to convince my child to eat tile fish with bean sprouts.
I’m also not concerned about the quality of food on the kids’ menu. Pizza, burgers, macaroni and cheese? Excellent. Let’s get our munch on. I don’t take my kids out to eat often enough for me to be concerned about the nutritional balance of their meals. It’s a once every couple of weeks event, so I’ll worry about vitamins at home, where it’s my job to do that kind of thing. When we go out to eat it’s about convenience and good times, not fiber and iron.
Advocates of the “little people should eat little people-ish big people food” movement say that we don’t give our kids enough credit, and that they will try new things if we present it to them the right way. I agree. I know a lot of kids who eat some remarkable things that my children wouldn’t even look at, let alone put in their mouths. And I know that that is largely due to my parenting choices and the kinds of foods I have and have not given them as they’ve been growing up. But right now I am just trying to get by with these children — asking them to try Brussels sprouts does not make it into my top 100 list of “things to do with my kids in this lifetime.”
So please, restaurants, don’t take away my kids menus. Even if you have to put them way at the bottom under the heading, “Foods For Parents Who Don’t Care,” just leave me my chicken fingers and french fries. Don’t forget all the children out there like young Owen Clarke, who, after a adapted kids meal with the Washington Post at the restaurant Equinox, gave this verdict:
“Owen, what did you like the best?” asked his mom, Sara Clarke. Owen pointed to the bread and butter.
(Photo: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock)