Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Days of Whine and Kiddie Meals...

There are many things in life that we consider milestones: walking, talking, going to Kindergarten, graduating High School, graduating college, getting married, having kids, etc.

Personally, we have those milestones, plus others: first kiss, getting our drivers license, getting a car, first job, getting an A in a class in which we thought we would do poorly. We set goals for ourselves, and congratulate ourselves on our accomplishments.

My children have a whole different set of milestones I neither remember having as a child, nor do I understand now. To begin with, my children consider making it to different levels in a hand-held Nintendo DS game system to be a huge accomplishment. I don't even know how to turn the thing on.

My eldest is moving into middle school this coming school year. I can hardly believe it's here. Just yesterday, I was walking him into Kindergarten and struggling with a toddler and a baby carrier through the school doors.

Two of my three kids have braces. They all have their own cd player in their rooms, and have since they were much younger. They all know how to use the phone, and use it way too often. They all have their own e-mail address. The eldest even has a cell phone! (I didn't have a regular land-line phone in my room until I was in 9th grade!)

However, the thing that they are the most hung up on right now is: moving from the kiddie menu to the adult menu when eating out.

Many restaurants have their kids' menu for children 10 and under. Since my eldest has turned eleven, he consistently tells the waiter/waitress that he's "too old" for the kiddie menu.

He could no sooner eat an entire adult portion of anything than fly to the moon. But he is reaching for that milestone that makes him have a bigger menu and no crayons with his meal.

"Can I get a double cheeseburger, mom?" He asks. Then adds, "Did you hear me okay? I think my voice is changing."

The two girls gaze at him with admiration.

Emma reports, "He's too old for children's meals. The menu says, 'Ten and under.' Keith is eleven." Amy sits beside her nodding.

"Keith, are you hungry enough to eat an adult meal?" I ask, almost certain that the answer is no.

"I think so."

"Well, why don't we start with a kids' meal for the smaller portion. Then if you're still hungry, we can get something else."

"He's too big, mommy. It's against the rules," Amy warns with big, round eyes.

"I think it will be okay," I try to assure her.

"Look, mommy," Emma says, pointing to the menu, "It says TEN and under. Keith is ELVEN."

"Uh huh. Do you want me to ask the waitress?" I ask.

"No. Fine. I'll have the kids' meal," Keith pouts, and slumps down into the booth.

"Honey, if you're hungry..."

"No, Mom, it's okay. The kids' meal is just fine," he spits out.

Now I'm stuck. How can I possibly justify spending $5 more dollars on an adult meal he won't eat? And besides that, I try to make it a rule not to give in to pouting. But the girls are looking at me as if I'm trying to rob a bank by getting an eleven year old a meal that says it's for ten and under children.
When did a Happy Meal become a "bad" thing? Five minutes ago they were fighting over the Happy Meal toys. Now they are trying to decide how they like their steak cooked and what dressing they would like on their salads.

"Look," I begin, "I really don't care what you eat, so long as you actually eat it. I don't want you to eat if you aren't hungry, so I encourage you to stop eating when you're full- no matter what's left on your plate. HOWEVER, the fact remains that you are usually full-to-bursting when you finish your Happy Meal. AND you hardly ever even touch your fries, besides that. So, order what you want."

"So, I can get the Double Stacker Cheese and More Burger with Cheese and Catchup only?" he asks, gleefully.

I sigh.

"Yes... But just get the sandwich- not the combo meal."

He smiles victoriously. The girls heave out sighs of relief that we won't be consciously disobeying the menu rules.

"Cool," smiles Keith. "Can I have a LARGE Dr. Pepper to drink, too?"

I glare at him.

"OK, fine. Whatever size comes with it is fine. I'm sure they have refills with the medium," he backs down.

He's "won" because he didn't have point at a picture on a kiddie menu to place his order. His meal didn't come with a toy or crayons. And, as baffling as this excitement is to me, the girls seem to have caught his enthusiasm, and watch jealously as he is served his drink in a cup that isn't Styrofoam with a lid and a straw.

Now, if I could get my children as excited about a full-ride scholarship to college, life would be grand.

But for now, the kids are in awe of passing the kiddie menu age. So for now, that's what we'll celebrate-- hold the fries.

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

I, too, wish my kids would continue to eat from the kiddie meno - if only to save $$$ - ha! Still, I don't want any of those stupid toys either!