I’m not a big fan of repeating myself.  Not with the kids, not with my friends and family, and definitely not with perfect strangers.  Yet this is exactly what I find myself doing every single time our family eats out at a restaurant.

I’m thinking of having business cards made that I can keep in my wallet.  Something I can whip out and hand to our server when he/she makes what I like to call The Face.  This is an expression that seems to be common to every waiter and waitress in a sixty mile radius, and it’s something I’m working hard to keep from becoming an issue for Bear.

Events follow the same basic sequence no matter where we’ve chosen to eat.  The hostess seats us along with two adult menus, two kids’ menus, and (typically) two packs of crayons.  I’m tempted to tell them not to bother with the children’s menus, but they usually have activities on them that do keep T-man and Bear occupied at the table so I keep my mouth shut.  This probably contributes to the confusion evoked by our food order.

I guess I can see the problem.  When the server reaches our table they find T-man and Bear sitting with us.  BrightSide and I order from the adult menu, T-man typically orders from the kids’ menu, and then we all turn to Bear.  She’ll order things like chicken fajitas, a cheeseburger, or Key West chicken. This seems pretty straightforward until our server asks the inevitable follow-up questions which, in order, would be: the lunch portion? the children’s plate? single breast?

This is the point at which BrightSide and I step in to reassure the server that yes, Bear does indeed mean to order the dinner portion, the adult cheeseburger, or the two breast chicken plate.  It’s this advocacy that without fail elicits The Face.

The Face typically involves a cocked eyebrow or, if unable to raise only one brow, two eyebrows that pop up slightly in disbelief.  The eyes commonly widen slightly as he/she tries to process the fact that BS and I have indeed agreed that the girl meant to order that much food.  The server’s mouth usually pops open a bit as if to ask if we’re sure, which is when I cut him/her off with “Believe us, she’ll eat it.”

That generally shuts things down and gets the food order moving along.

I get it.  She’s the smallest person at the table, her big brother just ordered off the kids’ menu, and here she is requesting an adult portion of food.  Bear’s a strong and sturdy girl, but she is a little girl and restaurant workers have trouble believing she can actually consume that much food.

And if The Face sounds quirky, you should see the reaction Bear gets when she actually does clean her plate.

She hears a lot of comments when we reach the end of our meals that, frankly, I find annoying. Things like “Wow, she sure does have an appetite!” and “Where does she put it all?!”  Everyone laughs and makes a joke of it, and Bear grins in what I dearly hope is an “I told you I could eat it” sort of way.  But I worry that some of this commentary is registering with her on a deeper level.

I worry when, given the choice between going to Justice (ugh!) and getting ice cream (yum!), she chooses the shopping.  Not because Justice is my own glittery hell on earth but because her last comment as we walked toward the door was that she “didn’t need those calories anyway.”  And my heart broke just a little.  Because that thought shouldn’t even flit through my healthy 9-year-old girl’s head.

So, to all of our future waiters, YES.  Bear’s ordering exactly what she wants to eat.  She eats until she feels full; sometimes that’s the whole plate, and sometimes she ends up taking leftovers home.

Either way…I can’t imagine you comment on your adult customers’ food consumption.  If you wouldn’t say it to me, I’d just as soon you not say it to my daughter.