I’m just going to rant for a second, because I’m grouchy and this gets my panties in a knot.
We don’t get many parent-and-children combos at Café Italia, but the ones we do get always seem to run along the same vein. This feels like the typical parent-child interaction:
Parent asks: “What would you like to eat?”
The child yells “CHIPS!”
The parent says “Chips for breakfast? That’s no good,” but then hands the child the chips anyways.
Just this morning we had a father say to his daughter, “Chips? You think we’re still on vacation?” and then bought her a bag of Doritos. I don’t know if this behaviour is standard. Maybe they force their children to eat vegetables at home, and when they go out as a special treat, the kid can have whatever they want. I’d like to be optimistic and believe that this is the case, but sometimes I wonder if these people are just giant pushovers.
I will say this for those parents though: at least they seem dismayed when their child chooses the unhealthy option. Today, we had a whole different kind of mother.
She walked in, and consulted with her children on what they wanted. Then she said to Oliver, “We’d like a hot dog and fries.”
It was 2:55, and the stove and grill had been turned off, so Oliver said, “No, sorry, the grill is shut down.”
“You can’t make a hot dog? What time do you guys close?” This woman said, in a bit of a combative tone.
“4, but we need to clean before closing,” Oliver explained. Then he pointed to the display case and started listing all the other options she could get: “Arancini, Mediterranean wrap, Panzerotti, a bunch of paninis, some other wraps.”
“So you can’t make fries?” the lady insisted.
“No,” said Oliver.
Now. I feel a little bad for this woman. She wanted to give her children a hot dog and fries. We weren’t closed, so it was probably a little upsetting to her that we had items advertised on the menu but weren’t serving them. But to be fair to Oliver, the number of customers who come through our doors after 2:30 is negligible. And the number who want a hot dog or fries are even less. So it doesn’t really make sense for him to leave all that stuff available.
Sighing loudly, she turned to her children and reluctantly asked if they wanted anything from the display case. After about 2 seconds, I heard her loudly say “You don’t want anything from the display case, do you”, in less of a questioning tone than an insistent one, and then she led her children over to the chips display. After perusing our meager selection for a moment, she stormed angrily out, with her kids in tow. As I was leaving for the day, I saw her walking with them through the parking lot, each child carrying a bag of Cheetos from the pharmacy.
This makes me really angry. It felt like this woman was willfully directing her children towards unhealthy food choices. Her kids were probably just about to hit their preteens, so they definitely weren’t at that stage where they would refuse to eat certain foods. Our paninis are delicious, and if your kid is really picky, they’re not that far off from a sub. I can almost guarantee that if she had encouraged her children to be adventurous and take a chance on a ham and swiss panini, they would have loved it. Instead, she shut that down, encouraged them to say no to foods they probably weren’t familiar with, and handed them junk food as a substitute.
I’ve never had to raise kids, so maybe I shouldn’t be one to judge, but I just feel like this woman was doing something wrong. Anyone with me? Anyone disagree? Should I just mind my own business and leave the parenting to the experts (probably, eh?)?