“Mom,” the dude asks, “Can I get the pancakes and the chicken strips?”
“How about we order one dinner at a time,” I say.
“I’ll get the chicken,” he says, after some serious thought. “With French fries.”
“Broccoli,” I counter.
“Aww,” he grumbles. I catch his frown in the rear view mirror.
“Okay, okay,” Fries are fine,” I declare, reminding myself that this is our “fun night out.”
There were many animated discussions going on at once about what they would order, the excitement mounting as the car neared our destination.
I am not a huge fan of chain restaurants, especially places that offer pancakes with sprinkles on top on their children’s menu. As most of you are probably aware, this goes completely against my Fierce Diva nutritional sensibility.
But my kids were in need of a treat.
And they love Perkins.
On top of the obvious, meaning the sugar/grease/starch issue with pancake house food, I hesitate to spend money on “bad food,” let alone any restaurant food at all. When things got “tough” financially a while back, I slashed restaurant meals from our budget, as they are “non-essentials.”
Yet, something special and fun was quite essential to them right now, at this moment, when their home life was changing. And Perkins seemed to be the right choice, as the ride to the restaurant was celebratory, full of giddy anticipation about the crayons and paper placemats, the dinner rolls, and those giant cookies the kids get for dessert.
Once there, it took me a while to settle in. I made one last ditch attempt at “no French fries,” but it was too late.
I tried to be OK with the kid cups full of undiluted juice, but within five minutes, I was chasing our server around the restaurant asking for extra cups and water.
I handed out the dinner rolls a half a piece at a time – because that flour had more bleach in it than Miley Cyrus’s new hair.
I tried to slip out without the large cookies that come with the kids meals, but the hostess ran up to us at the door as we were leaving, with the goods. How could I say, “No,” with my kids in the line of the discussion?
But I had a great time, despite my serious food aversions.
And I would - and will – take them out for another Perkin’s night again soon.
At Perkins, time stopped for a little while. There were no chores beckoning for me, no phones ringing, no laundry, cleaning, checking homework, packing lunches, or articles to edit. It was just me, sitting across the table from my children.
While my kids will talk for days about what they ate, what I will remember is the hour in the booth with them, playing tic tac toe with crayons on the placements, chatting about their day, and watching them eat massive amounts of over greased, over sugared foods in pure joy.
As budget conscious as I am right now and as much as I staunchly believe in feeding children the healthiest foods available, a once a week Perkins trip won’t harm us (OK my heart palpitates as I write that, because my aversion to processed foods is really more of a neurosis). My kids need Perkins. Dare I say, I need Perkins. Because every family needs a little time away from the “everyday.”
Heck, maybe even I’ll order the French fries for me next time we go!
Where do you go to spend a special night out with your family?
Have you “bent the rules” lately to make for a happier family? How did it work out for you?