I took the kids out for lunch this week, just me and those three capricious characters. I never know what to expect as their behavior ranges from impeccable to completely chaotic. This time they were somewhere in the middle, and fortunately we got to sit outside because it was a bee-yoo-tiful day.

We got the obligatory kids’ menus printed on paper placements and served with crayons. Everyone was happy. Thankfully, no one ordered chicken fingers. I have a thing about chicken fingers and french fries on every kids menu ever created, and my thing is this: what a dumb meal for a kid.  Why are “chicken fingers” so ubiquitous?! I bet some kids order chicken fingers every time they go to a restaurant because they think they’re supposed to. They probably don’t even realize other choices exist back there in the kitchen (and by other choices I don’t mean a hot dog or pasta with butter – ugh!). How about a vegetable now & then? Every time I (politely) ask for a small plate of fresh veggies for the kids I get weird looks and replies like “oh, I’ll have to check on that.” A server once told me “we don’t have cucumbers” when I asked for some slices for the kids, only to later present my plate with an orange and a cucumber slice as a garnish. Maybe he just didn’t know what a cucumber is? Because all he ever ate as a kid was fried chicken fingers?? It’s not like I am against fried chicken as a rule, but if we really want chicken nuggets and fries we’ll go to Chick-Fil-A because theirs are the best! Well, pardonez-moi for getting off track, the rant is now over… back to the math:

Anyway, I’ll forgive this particular restaurant their chicken fingers offering because just LOOK at what was on the backside of the menu/placemat:
Practice your multiplication?! At a restaurant?! In public?! For fun?! Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

This table can be read by kids who haven’t even learned multiplication yet. Just call out two numbers and have your young child find the right column and row, then read the answer to you. Or better yet, have the younger child quiz the older kids who really should practice their times tables (especially because it’s summer vacation…).
If your child asks you what multiplication means, get out the sugar packets (crayons, forks, whatever is on the table) and start explaining some simple problems. I usually begin by telling the kids when you hear the word “times” replace that with the words “groups of”.  2 X 2 just means 2 “groups of” 2. They should start to get an understanding of it after you give some simple sugar packet examples.   

Before you know it, the kids’ will have worked up an appetite, the food will arrive, and people at adjacent tables will be in awe at just how smart and well-behaved your children are as they commend your parenting skills. La la la.. OK I have yet to encounter that experience, but maybe it will happen to you. In the meantime, whip out that multiplication table again when the chicken fingers are gone and make sure you get those kids to work for their dessert! π 

09/07/2012 12:07

Hi Jennifer. Finally getting around to enjoying your blog!! How great!! You'll need to tell me which restaurant offered the 'Practice your multiplication' on the back of the menu. As for the funny looks you get when you ask for veggies, I get the same thing. Next time, you should ask for a side of broccoli.. those are the really strange faces you'll get from the wait staff. :-)


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