Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Letter To Restaurateurs

When dining out, my oldest son's appetite seems to be directly linked to how much his meal will cost. Free kid's meal? He'll clean his plate and ask for more. An $8 meal? Two bites at best. But that's not really what this blog is about.

Today I'm sending out a request to the people who are in charge of restaurant menus: Please don't underestimate your tiny diners' taste buds!

Would you like some crackers with your caviar? It's terrific to offer "kid-friendly" food on your Kids' Menus. Especially if it's food you don't have on your "grownup menu." You are acknowledging kids can be picky eaters, and have included classic kid-food choices to make parents happy and bring smiles to many little mouths.

However, some kids like a bit of spice. A touch of "Bam!" A little something different. My son loves hot sauce. He doesn't really like French fries, but he'll eat onion rings--after removing the batter. He and his brother love olives and mushrooms, avocados and hummus, broccoli and cauliflower. Some kids love cheese, some hate it. There are kids who only like fruit. Kids who despise salt and pepper. (And any one of those kids may have a completely different viewpoint on food at the next meal.) Some kids are picky eaters, some are adventurous. Some go with the flow, some have very specific ideas about their meals, and most will turn into tantrum-throwing monsters at some point. You're not going to please them all. But don't lump them all together. Kids are just like us, only younger...plus they tend to voice their opinions in louder, and more dramatic, ways than most adults.

At a burger place, it's perfectly acceptable to have burgers dominate the kids' menu. But when we visit an Mexican restaurant, I don't want my kids to choose between a cheeseburger and chicken nuggets. And why would an Indian restaurant only offer pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches to diners 10 and younger?

My family has visited some restaurants with really cool choices for kids, and many with nothing but boringness. If you run a restaurant, please don't shy away from offering versions of your specialties to the kiddos, too--Start building loyalty to your food early! Thank you for kids menus. Thank you for smaller portions and smaller prices. Keep up the good work. And don't forget to include a few choices for the kids who decide they want to step away from nuggets and pizza!

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Kid Likes Pink


My daughter loves the color pink. She's only 3 years old, but she knows what she likes. If you ask her, she'll tell you: "I like all the colors. (She'll then proceed to list as many colors as she can think of and/or see.) But pink is my favorite!"

She also loves to dance and take care of her baby dolls. She's a big fan of Disney Princesses. She usually doesn't want to get dirty or play with bugs. She enjoys puppets, playing dress-up, watching silly kids shows, and trying new foods. She likes singing, helping me cook, pretending to cook, and building things with blocks. She even loves giving kisses and hugs. My daughter also likes to sword fight, and occasionally tackle her younger brother. She talks about fixing cars. She likes to watch baseball and football and hockey and basketball--she likes playing them all, too. She likes collecting acorns, is great at video games, and loves Spider-Man and other super heroes.

Is there anything wrong with this? Of course not! But the stuff I wrote about my daughter isn't true. I don't even have a daughter. The stuff I wrote is true...except it's about my son.

 A terrific shirt by Ben Sherman
My son likes to sword fight, and occasionally tackle his younger brother. He talks about fixing cars. He likes to watch baseball and football and hockey and basketball--he likes playing them all, too. He likes collecting acorns, is great at video games, and loves Spider-Man and other super heroes. He enjoys puppets, playing dress-up, watching silly kids shows, and trying new foods. He likes singing, helping me cook, pretending to cook, and building things with blocks. He even loves giving kisses and hugs. He also loves to dance and take care of his baby dolls. He's a big fan of Disney Princesses. He usually doesn't want to get dirty or play with bugs.
My son also loves the color pink. He's only 3 years old, but he knows what he likes. If you ask him, he'll tell you: "I like all the colors. (He'll then proceed to list as many colors as he can think of and/or see.) But pink is my favorite!"

Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not! But I know some people do think there are things wrong with it. Maybe even wrong with him. My son isn't perfect, but he's not flawed because he likes to do pirouettes and one of his favorite TV characters is a big pink monster with a flower on her head.
When a little girl is a "tomboy," it's cute--even something to admire. Break that glass ceiling, girl. Don't let anyone say you can't do or like something just because you're a girl. And there are no "off-limits" colors for girls. I know several boys who like pink. They would wear pink shirts, and play with pink toys--except their parents won't let them, or their "friends" would tease them. My little dancer boy wants to wear pink. I want to buy him pink things to wear because I want my son to be happy. If he changes his mind some day, and likes another color instead, it will be easier. But primarily because pink clothes for boys are so difficult to find. (Why does almost every pink shirt have to have cap sleeves or those little dart things on the shoulders? Plus all those bows, and so much lace!) If he likes pink forever, that's fine with me, too. No matter what his favorite color is, I want him to have so much confidence he'll never feel he should give up something he loves just because other people think it's weird.