Like most suburban parents, occasionally my wife and I find ourselves lacking the time to prepare a sumptuous, nutritious meal — especially on weeknights. To remedy this, we at times avail ourselves of one of the many fine local eateries that Washtenaw County has to offer.
These dining experiences are, for the most part, similar. You are led to a table and offered a menu, which you gratefully take. At the same time, your children are given a folded up piece of paper, usually a series of puzzles and games, and on this paper is printed the dreaded kids’ menu.
Located somewhere close to the maze where you try to find your way from START to Chompy the Alligator’s alarmingly agape mouth, the kids’ menu is quite often nothing more than deep fried detritus. I’ve been to local Mediterranean restaurants that have an exquisite menu of falafel, gyros, lamb-on-a-stick, and many more authentic offerings. While for kids, the best that is offered are hot dogs, mac and cheese, and the ubiquitous chicken fingers.
It struck me that here in southeast Michigan, home of some of the finest Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare this side of Beirut, some parent is right now placing this order: “We’d like a chicken gyro, falafel pita, side of tabouli salad, and Junior will have a hot dog and fries.”
One thing restaurants can do to help is to offer the items they specialize in on the kids’ menu, with a smaller portion size. But perhaps that is too much to ask. Restaurants that eschew the kids’ menu sometimes offer nothing in a child’s portion. My six-year-old does not need a whole plate of spaetzle for herself, thank you very much.
I know the solution is to share, but sometimes (and forgive me for this), I’m not in the mood. I work hard, I’m the Dad, and I want my own gyro. I didn’t become a parent to have my children pilfering food off my plate. They are already nibbling away at my time and energy, the least they can do is leave my gyro alone.
It would be nice if restaurants, and quite frankly most other businesses in the Greater Ann Arbor area, would listen to my advice and alter their practices accordingly. If your kids’ menu is poorly thought out, then I just might decide to pass on your establishment.
After all, I can cook a grilled cheese at home.
Jeremy Rosenberg gave up the corporate rat race years ago to become a freelance writer and graduate student, as well as a stay-at-home Dad to his two children, Jack, 11, and Eva, 6
He also enjoys playing the guitar, letting his cats fall asleep on his lap, and trying to be a decent human being