So I came into the weeknight date thinking about where I was going to go. I was agonizing about the restaurants that I was going to choose from. I’m always for trying things new. I know some of those people who can go to the same restaurant multiple times a week and order the exact same things every time. I say good for you!!! I am not that person. I need to try different things from time to time. But I was struggling and then I thought about going to Claim Jumper. I love Claim Jumper. It’s probably way too much food for any one or even two people but if I get a good steak and some roasted veggies I’m doing alright. Or at least that is what I tell myself anyway. (And for those of you who are Vegetarians or have Gluten concerns there is a growing part of the menu just for you.) Not only that, but when you take your kids they can order a decent sized meal off the kid’s menu, and it’s pretty reasonable. I know I have gone here before with my daughter since I was given a midweek night with her, but the last time the doctors were suggesting dairy free and gluten free. So this was a whole new experience, right? Shhhh!!! Let me live in ignorance.
The irony was that my daughter ordered the exact same thing almost. She did get Mac and Cheese this time and was able to eat the cheese bread so it was a whole new meal. (And cake is a reasonable breakfast food. Or so several mom blogs are swearing. Breads and Cereals, Poultry, Dairy . . . Make it a carrot cake and add a cherry on top, with cream cheese frosting and you have all 5 major food groups. Maybe there is something to this.)
Anyway, then we moved on to talking, which was the whole excuse for eating. While there, my daughter asks for the kid’s menu. She then looks at the top of the menu nervously and then sighs a big sigh of relief.
“What,” I ask her.
“I’ll be able to eat on the kid’s menu until I’m 13 here. So many places the cutoff is eleven.”
And there dropped the mic. What? My daughter is about to turn 11. She’s speeding into her tween years. She will be in Junior High before I know it. But the real problem is that I’m going to have to pay more for her restaurant food. That’s it! I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Why in the world do they choose 11 as the last year they can eat off the child’s menu?
As if I didn’t have enough fears in my life as boys start coming around, and you are going to make me start paying more for this??? There will be periods, the sex talk, the boys talk, the junior high years, the not wanting to spend time with her dad any more, and you, the restaurant industry is going to make me pay more for that privilege.
Besides that, you are going to make me pay more for her food, while at the same time giving her more food than any two persons should eat at one sitting. She’s not a growing boy after all. (No slight to growing boys.) And they won’t stop over feeding her until she is 55. There is something that’s just crazy about this. Why in the world do we do this and what is it about that number?
And there was that dreaded number 11 again. Why 11? I realize that you couldn’t start going to Hogwarts until you were 11. And my daughter has made this known to me more than once as she wants it for her birthday party theme, Hogwarts is a school from a book. And that book only came out in the last few years. She’s not starting Junior High just yet, despite local school districts making it middle school instead of Junior High. Darn you, middle school. But what’s up with this?
And then there is the doubling of the costs of going out with my daughter, all because she has turned some random number. I know some people lie and tell restaurants they are actually younger. Or when their kids turn three they tell Disneyland they are still 2 so they get in for free. (I especially sympathize with those Disneyland lies given their skyrocketing costs.). I am not that guy. To my ex’s chagrin, I hated lying to people to get something. I’m not claiming sainthood here but it just felt wrong to tell a lie to get a discount. Layers of guilt would wash over me. I just can’t be the guy who does that.
Now 13 I kind of get. It’s the last year before Junior High. In Judaism it’s when the child is considered to become an adult. It’s when boys went out to work for their fathers. It’s when women way back in the day used to get married because most had already had their bodies go through puberty. Or for those of you who are younger, that big red button in Inside Out. Thirteen is when everyone is going through physical changes that mark growing up. Eleven is Eleven. What’s with 11?
This is Bob the Frenchman Mouse . . . Ho! Ho! Ho! (A little like Santa Claus but a French one with whiskers.)
Wait… I know now. It’s the highest dial on the amp for Spinal Tap the faux rockumentary band. I suppose if their “hit” Big Bottoms is in the top 50 Heavy Metal songs of all time, then going to eleven must be important. Because you know, “My Amp goes to eleven.”
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David Elliott’s Single Dad’s Guide to Life