Since moving to our new environment we have paradoxically identified and clung to a few new routines. This has included a very limited scope of places to dine out with the kids. I'm in the burbs now, and bereft of the wonderful 'child friendly yet delicious for adults with a decent wine list to boot' restaurant smorgasbord of my old SF neighborhood.
We initially ventured only to the nearest mall, actually walkable, where the kids have fallen in love with the pizzeria, and the diner. Though adequate when we need a night off from cooking, I am tiring of these options. The kids eat only grilled cheese sandwiches (Geekyboy), chicken strips and fries (Geekygirl) or mac n cheese or pizza (both). I drank the diner through their entire (horrific) wine collection - red first, then white and struck out on the vegetarian section of their menu options until I was eating grilled cheese (with avocado) sandwiches myself. they fortunately seen to have closed for the winter. Which left us stuck with the (perfectly nice) pizza joint as our only dine out option.
This weekend I set the kids up in advance for trying something new. I have learned with my two that spontaneously saying "lets try this place for lunch" sets off a flight or fight response in them. They are terrified of being confronted with new food. So I promised them their favorite pizza place on Friday, on the condition we would brave "Sammy's" a pizza/pasta/salady place which looks decent (by my new suburban standards!) at the other, fancier, drivier mall, one weekend day.
It was a huge success! Geekyboy despite the availability of a grilled cheese sandwich (if the menu comes with crayons you can almost guarantee it will offer this staple!), instead chose angel hair pasta with olive oil and Parmesan. Having steeled himself for a new cuisine experience he seemed determined to try it. He was resigned to not liking it, I could tell. The contrast in his face and mood the second he forked the deliciously cheesey pasta into his mouth, and realized it was yummy was profound and rather adorable. Geekygirl chose mini burgers, a new thing for her and ate them with relish. Preprepared to cope with newness, they embraced and enjoyed it.
It was hardly gourmet cuisine, though my ono tacos were very good, but I consider it a triumph and am delighted to have a new option for eating on nights I am too exhausted to cook.
Sometimes, though I am delighted when I figure out how best to handle my kids, I wonder why they have to be so complicated!