Sunday, May 31, 2015

All You Can Eat

Yesterday, my nine year old finished her soccer season and I took the four, eight and eleven year old with me to cheer her on, and to the post game victory party at a local chain buffet. They'd never been to this restaurant as I tend to avoid going out to eat with my children except at places that provide meals in paper wrapping accompanied by plastic toys.

My four year old found four year old heaven.  I think she ate three times her weight in fruit from the salad bar, running back every two minutes or so to refill her plastic bowl with honey dew.  After eating more than I thought possible, her sisters introduced her to the entree' table.  Mac-n-cheese, french fries, fried chicken.  "This is the best place in the world." she glowed.  My son discovered the taco bar.  Game over.  A chorus sang the glories of chips.  I mentioned carrots. "Unlimited drinks!" my daughter pointed to her red plastic cup of chocolate milk and straw.

I told myself, it's okay. It's one day.  We sat at opposite ends of a long string of tables, (the adults on one side, the soccer team and siblings on the other) so I watched semi-helplessly as my four year old ran again to the stations and discovered the mother load of desserts.  

Up until now, I'd allowed her discretion. Fruit. No problem. Milk. No biggie. Proteins.  She came back with carrot cake. My suggestion of vegetables heeded, she ran back for cookies.  A waitress came by with a platter of ice cream in cups with gummi bears.  I didn't know this place functioned as a truck stop version of dim sum.   Delighted, she sought out dessert number four before I could get to her.   The waitress thought her so cute, she gave two slices of pumpkin pie.  I thought my daughter might explode if she kept eating.  Other soccer teammates saw her desire to be in the clean plate club and began giving her the desserts they didn't want in their quest to try everything.  Her eyes bulged with gluttonous joy.

She began the dance of the bathroom and so I took her. By now, the waitress had begun clearing the table of the aftermath.  My daughter felt distraught.  Her treasure'd been looted!

She ran to the ice cream machine and sweet talked the waitress into giving her a swirly cone.  She must have sensed she'd pushed her luck, she gave it to me.   I called for our check.  Imprisoned by the need to pay up, she took the opportunity to go back and grab another bowl of fruit and a cookie.  Her brother pushed himself away from the table, bloated with pizza, chicken, cornbread and dessert.  She took his french fries.   "We're going." I announced. It took a few minutes to round up her sisters and brother, all of whom, after protesting fullness, had gone back to the create your own sundae bar for more.  I hate wasting food, but I also wanted us to leave the place before any child reached critical mass.

Pulling her out the doors and into the bright sunlight, she winced at the reality of the world outside the comfort of the buffet table.  "I'm so full." Food drunk, she staggered holding my hands. We drove home, and I thought smugly to myself as all four succumbed to sleep en route, they won't be hungry for dinner.  

As soon as I pulled in the driveway, the four year old woke up.  Her first words?  "Mommmmm?  What's for lunch?"


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