The Gs have reached the age where the maitre'd has to ask them if they want a kids menu, and, as much as they like the idea of being grown up, they also know like being assured of finding something palatable, along with something crayon-related of mild interest to pass the time.
Last night, after a day of riding the waves at an overcast but otherwise delightful Wrightsville Beach, we headed into Wilimington to explore the historic downtown and the restaurants and shops of the Riverwalk. We settled on a riverside restaurant with a broad menu, featuring what I'll call "fancy american" dishes. The Gs were both handed a kids menu, and the OG selected the pasta (marinara sauce on the side, untouched), while the BG went for the same pasta, but with butter instead of sauce (both came with a ridiculously inappropriate sise of french fries, BTW). I had a hummus trio appetizer (which was both bland, and far too large to be so labeled, while Worldwide selected a crab dip, which turned out to be a decadently delicious (and also inappropriately large) bowl of crab, mayonnaise and garlic on toast. Sadly, the dip left her too full to enjoy her grilled salmon over spinach salad, but I had no such problem with a creamy shrimp and grits, which made up for a lack of spices with overly generous gobs of cheese and cream.
After dinner, when the BG asked Worldwide to help her find the bathroom, I summoned our waiter. "It's my wife's birthday." I told him. "Do you have any kind of a birthday-type dessert?" He recommended a double chocolate cake, which I asked him to bring at the appropriate time.
Two minutes later, he was back, telling me that his manager had decreed an end to providing free birthday cakes to patron. That hadn't even occurred to me, and he was decidedly relieved to hear that I was more interested in effecting a surprise than in scoring a freebie.
After the cake (with four forks) arrived, and we were walking back to the car, I asked the BG why she hadn't ordered the artichoke dip, which seemed to be right up her epicurean alley. "They gave me the kids menu" she explained, "so I thought that I should order from it."
In light of this, and in light of the picky eaters of today, as well as those like my grandmother, who frequently asked if she could order a kid-sized portion, we recommended a new approach: that kids meals appear on the full menu, as "light bites" or something similar, and that they be available to all. That way, the kids will not feel shut out of the full menu, the picky eaters can find something acceptable, and everybody walks away happy.
It's not easy being a kid. We think it is, but we're wrong.