Friday, August 14, 2009

Children at a Buffet

Most buffets are family restaurants and of course, children are at the heart of most families. So it is most common to find children at buffets. As with many things that happen for the negative with children, it is not the child to blame but the parent who is not paying attention to what the child is doing. I have written an article about this same subject in what seems is the long past, but this absolutely needs repeating.

Now don't get all crazy that I don't like children at buffets. That is not true. What I don't like are children who are unsupervised when they are sent up by themselves to the buffet servers. Here are two recent occurrences.

At a certain buffet, not to be named, a boy about the age of nine or ten was up at the buffet server putting rice into his plate with the large serving spoon. He went to drop the rice into his plate and it would not release from the spoon. His first response was to put the spoon over the serving tray full of rice and with his other hand scoop the rice out of the spoon and back into the pan. He seemed to realize that this was not the thing to do, so he moved the spoon back over his plate - and then with this other hand scooped the rice out of the spoon and onto his plate. Of course, he then put the spoon - the serving end just rubbed out by his hand - back into the serving tray. Ycch.

At another buffet, again not to be named, another boy about the age of eleven or twelve, was serving himself from the entrees and sides into bowls. He filled a bowl full of mac and cheese - which is a reasonable amount for a child to eat. He then filled a bowl to overflowing with pieces of fried fish - more fish than two tables of adults could consume in a meal. Certainly, this young lad did not eat all of that fish!

So where were the parents? Good question. Too often children - at all ages of childhood - are up at the buffet server alone. Sometimes taking things on a buffet are not as simple as scooping a spoonful up and onto a plate. Sometimes the pizza needs to be cut apart to get a piece - as the restaurant did not quite cut it through all of the way. Sometimes, like our young boy above, the food does not release from the spoon all that easily. At these times many kids are at a loss for what properly to do - and they improvise. Those improvisations are not always with the best result.

Some buffets post signs. "No one 12 or under are to be at the buffet server unescorted." If only the kids cared or the parents bothered to make sure to follow that simple request.

I have brought a child to buffets myself, and when it is your child or one who is close to you, you will naturally believe that the child is far more capable than perhaps may be. I know that the child that I have brought will want to take everything for himself. At 7 years old, you want to believe that is ok, but I have seen kids take one serving spoon from one tray and go from tray to tray taking food. Sometimes it is a struggle when the child is insistent, but you know what, sometimes you have got to be the adult. Children's eyes are truly bigger than their stomachs - a kid will take far more than he/she can possibly eat. Is it so hard to teach the child to take a little and then go back for more? So silly of me, many adults never learned this.

There have also been problems with kids running around a buffet - especially around the serving area where people are walking with full and hot plates and do not always notice the the little ones scurrying by - alone or with similar aged siblings. I have seen kids just narrowly being missed by a knocked cup of hot coffee. And you know that if the child had been burned the person knocked into would be blamed. Why are the kids running around? Well, where are the parents?

I am not going to belabor this, but I hope that I have made my point. If you take a child to a buffet you need to be with that child when the child goes up to the serving bars - and when you are there fill the plate for a younger child and assist an older one, paying attention to what the child is doing.


dave1973 said...

I agree with you that parents (or adults watching neighbors, friends, or relatives children) that they assist children in getting their food. I've seen children who are too short to see the top of the buffet trying to serve themselves. For children that might be able to serve themselves sometimes learn about taking too much food from the adults. I see just as many adults as children who waste food. One Polish buffet in Chicago called Czerwone Jabłuszko (Red Apple) makes notes on how much food people take, and will tack on any waste to the person's bill. They make it clear at their buffet, since this place make people pay at the end of their meal, and not before. If that were implemented at other buffets, then that would make people rethink how much food they take.

On another topic relating to children at buffets. My big gripe with some buffets have desserts (especially toppings for soft serve) that cater exclusively for children. It upsets me that toppings for soft serve are only for children (other than strawberry syrup, chocolate, and butterscotch), such as gummi bears, jelly beans, nerds, and other candies that are considered childrens favorites. I will find no nuts or broken up cookies at the soft serve. I'll even at times find cookies & cakes being made too sweet for my taste. That seems to be a sign that the buffet want children to grab it more than adults.

Sandradf20 said...

I just left pizza Hut buffet (my 6 year old requested this as a reward) and I would never allow her to serve herself but she sees kids who can't see over the bar making numerous trips and says "I guess their parents don't care" my thoughts exactly