Friday, June 10, 2011
Northside Family Restaurant Values
To celebrate the last days of elementary school, my mother (visiting from MD) offered to take daughter D to any restaurant in Madison - cost was no object. Anywhere she wanted to go!
I started salivating. We have some pretty awesome restaurants in Madison. L'Etoile! Harvest! Fresco!
But my daughter had something else in mind. She named a strip-mall restaurant, down the street from us.
"Oh sweetie," I said, "We can go there any time. This is a special dinner! You only 'graduate' from elementary school once! Pick somewhere nice!"
But she held to her guns. See, last week her class received a nice surprise from this restaurant. The waitresses at the restaurant, together with the owner, pooled their money together to donate hundreds of dollars to the 4th/5th grade field trip to Green Bay. Then, the owner paid for a school bus to go to the school and bring the kids to his restaurant, where he offered them ANYTHING ON THE MENU. For free. The kids were beyond excited.
He explained to the kids that he came to the U.S. from Armenia and when he arrived, people were kind and helped him out. He wanted to give back to the country that gave him so much, and was reaching out to our school to do that.
In no uncertain terms, my 11-year-old daughter told me that he had something more important than a fancy menu with over-priced wines. He had character and values.
So we went. To the unpretentious strip-mall restaurant. Where we had a lovely dinner. (And bonus: turns out they serve Spotted Cow!)
As we left, my son turned to me and said, "You know, that restaurant doesn't look like much on the outside. But inside, where it counts, it is really nice."
I blinked back a few tears (mothers are allowed to be a bit overly emotional when their eldest is leaving elementary school behind, no?) and told him that was exactly right. And I was so very glad that my daughter didn't listen to my recommendation to go to the fancy restaurant instead.
I'd like to think that I'm the one teaching my kids that what is on the inside matters more than what is on the outside. But I suspect that perhaps, they are the ones teaching me.