Last week I waited on a couple of over-protective parents and their eerily quiet, Village of the Damned son and daughter. I was asked to immediately remove all potentially harmful cutlery (i.e. all cutlery) and make sure I placed the children's drinks in plastic cups.
Did I mention that these children were about 13 years old?
Nevertheless, mommy encouraged her son to solve the complex riddles presented by the kid's menu. Junior, just a few years shy of Norman Bates issues, begrudgingly agreed.
I felt for the poor kid. I could tell that dining in public for him mandated the shameful completion of word searches and rudimentary mazes. Should he grow up straight, his children will be ordering off the adult menu before they're able to digest solid foods.
When the food arrived, mommy and daddy cut the children's meals into condescendingly small bites, as if to say "I dare you to eat anything bigger without choking to death." Dad led the clan in a simple, if not drawn-out, pre-meal prayer. Junior looked around and caught my sympathetic glance. He immediately retreated back to the steeple he'd been forced to create out of his innocent hands.
After dinner, Junior and his sister split one kid's meal dessert, a simple scoop of ice cream with a wee bit of whipped cream. Mom paid and left a polite 18% tip.
As they left, Junior gave me one last pitiful look. I wanted to tell him, "Life will get better, I promise you. You can move far away from home one day and order off the adult menu."
But I doubt Junior would have taken much comfort from someone in an apron who complied with his mother's demands of children's menus, no knives and one meager scoop of ice cream for dessert.