It doesn’t happen all at once. That’s why it is so sneaky. It happens in little moment after little moment like watching a flower bloom and all of a sudden there it is. It’s the same way with childhood. You don’t grow out of being a little kid in an instant. But it happens and all of a sudden one day you notice. And today was that day. Really I’ve been seeing the changes in our 8 year old for weeks. She already petitioned for a later bedtime. She already asked for a computer of her very own. And then today it happened. That thing. The one thing that determines when a little girl is no longer a little girl. And don’t go where I think your mind is going because that is flat out wrong and I am in no way prepared to deal with what YOU are thinking this is. But today it happened.
She refused the kids menu and the four crayons at the restaurant and asked to order from the adult menu. That’s right. She shunned the kids menu. And it’s done.
That paper place mat menu is a staple of childhood across the country and maybe the world. You know the one. There’s something to color. Usually it’s a whale or a squirrel or some restaurant mascot. There’s a couple of games. There’s probably a maze or some tic tac toe squares. And then there’s three or four kids meal options. Usually it’s chicken tenders, mac and cheese, hamburger or hot dog with their choice of drink. It’s not elegant. It’s not fancy. But for 99% of all little kids in America, and that’s a scientific survey, the kids menu items are just fine. It is the barometer by which all little kids are measured. Today that barometer burst at the top.
The waitress brought the two kids menus to the table with the crayons for 5 year old and 8 year old, and the 8 year old slid them away like a prisoner might slide the empty plate back through the cell door. And with the same sad, dejected look too. The waitress told her there was a kids menu. She got more upset. We stepped in to speak kid language and explained she wanted to order from the adult menu.
So she took that adult menu. She studied it. She pondered it. She picked a meal and when it came, she hated it. What did she expect, she ordered from the scary adult menu with all sorts of freaky options which aren’t chicken tenders or mac and cheese. So little miss grownup picked from each of our plates anyway. And that’s just fine because that means she’s still a little kid just a little while longer.
And as for the kids menu: mom used the placemat and dad used the crayons and we all colored while we waited for the meal. We all colored except for the 8 year old because she’s just too grown up for that now.