Traveling with my son: restaurant choices

Okay, tonight was a great test of my ability to stay focused on the important things and practice that zen-like calm I try to have when things get frustrating. I managed it, but not without a tiny cry of despair inside…

I’ve brought my 10yo son G- to Chicago for a week’s holiday with me, we’ve been to the amazing Museum of Science and Industry, the very cool Field Museum, tomorrow we’re off to Navy Pier and an evening architecture boat tour, it’s been fun. I really like Chicago too, and have a secret goal of teaching my kids to appreciate city life too: their Mom strongly dislikes big cities and avoids them like the plague and I don’t want them to inherit that attitude.

Which is all well and good until it’s time to eat…

If you’re not a regular reader of this blog, you probably don’t know that my son doesn’t do well with gluten or dairy. He doesn’t get sick, but gluten makes him restless and cranky, unable to sleep, while diary gets him congested. A pain, but not impossible to manage.
The first night we got here, we went to Chicago icon Giordino’s for some deep dish Chicago pizza. I knew it’d be a challenge, but he needed to have at least a few slices. He did, and couldn’t get to sleep until after midnight, though thankfully he was in good spirits, if wiggly, all night.

Tonight, though, I really wanted to try McCormick & Schmick’s, a famous seafood place that’s just around the corner from our hotel on Michigan Ave by the river. We walked there, sat at a table, then… he looked at the menu and said he wasn’t hungry.

“Well, we need to eat dinner, it’s 6.30.”

“Nothing on the menu looks good.”

“What about salmon? You love salmon”

“Nah, just not… I dunno… doesn’t sound good.”

sf/x: deep, deep breath

“Then let’s split and find somewhere that does sound good. I can always come back here for dinner next time I’m in Chicago.”

mccormick schmicks
And with that, we folded our napkins, grabbed the loaner umbrellas from the hotel, and walked out and around the corner to the Mexican chain burrito joint Chipotle.

Dinner? He had a cheese quesadilla (with diary and, yes, gluten in the tortilla) and I had a fajita chicken burrito with lots of hot sauce.

On the other hand, we did get it to go, went back to the room and enjoyed “Toy Story” on my computer while munching away, so that was definitely a different experience to what it’d have been like at a fancy sit-down restaurant.

End result: I am bummed that I missed out on a fine dinner, but think that when traveling with children, it’s often best to let them lead the food choices because a kid that actually eats is a lot better than a kid that hems and haws, eating almost nothing, then complains about being hungry as soon as you leave the restaurant. Parents know what I’m talking about…

Did I handle it right, though? Or should we have stuck with the seafood place and pushed a bit harder to find something on the menu he’d have hopefully eaten?

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