My family is just home from a whirlwind week in NYC. Will and I had a fabulous time when we went, just the two of us, in May, so when my dear friend floated the idea of an autumn NYC trip with her family we pounced.
It was a glorious week, and interesting on so many levels. Our weather was beautiful (as was my friend’s new baby—so fun).
My kids have spent a good bit of time in Chicago, but NYC is on a whole different level, and they’ve never experienced anything like it. Will and I watched their little minds explode over and over again as they took everything in.
The kids were interested in many of the same things the grown-ups were: to my relief, they enjoyed just walking around the city. They were enthusiastic about the handful of museums we visited. And they loved the food.
We ate our way through the city. There were nine of us for this trip, and we family-styled it all over town, sampling widely. We sampled Japanese, Sardinian, Turkish, Korean, Mexican. We ate pizza and bagels. We sampled a whole lot of desserts. I had no idea how much my kids would love the food.
On our last night, the family groups split up. My family of 6 set out to find dinner for our last night.
We were exhausted: we’d been on our feet for hours that day; over the course of the week we put in 20 – 25,000 steps a day. (I had no idea my kids could walk that far.) We weren’t particularly hungry (thanks to 3 p.m. falafel) but didn’t want to skip dinner either.
Will and I wanted the kids to be happy with our last meal. When we asked them where they wanted to eat, they said they didn’t care, as long as it was someplace “good.”
We quickly flipped through our mental list of options: there was a highly recommended Thai place we wanted to try, or Southern comfort food just a few blocks away. We thought they’d enjoy the classy but family-friendly white-tablecloth place the two of us dined at in May. Or we could seek out some truly fabulous New York pizza for our last night.
We had to figure it out fast, because we had to sit down.
Will and I did a quick mental review of where we’d been that week: the kids loved the ethnic meals when we had twenty dishes (no joke) on the table, passing them around. They adored the French bakery where they got a whole cookie all to themselves, and the time we bought a whole bagful of pastries to share.
But they seemed disappointed in a cozy Italian place that Will and I loved, even though the mood was divine and the pizza out of this world. We dove in for a snack just hours after an enormous late lunch, mostly to get out of the rain. The kids were underwhelmed by our small sampling of dishes, even though the food was amazing. Likewise, they seemed disappointed in Shake Shack. (Who is disappointed in Shake Shack?) We ordered a few shakes to split, and later it came out that they all wanted their own.
We really wanted to make the kids happy on our last night. As we stood there on the sidewalk, assessing our options, Will and I realized we’d been thinking of a “good” restaurant—by our standards.
But that wasn’t my kids’ idea of good. They like quantity, and they like choices. They like tasty food, but they’re not quite as discerning on that score yet. (I’m not thrilled with their priorities; we were assessing the facts, not the priorities we wished they had.)
And so we stepped into the closest diner-style place, the kind where you can walk up to the counter, point to what you want, and get it on a plate, immediately. Then we let them pick out any drink they wanted from the refrigerated case. (They drink water pretty much all the time, so that’s a big deal.)
The pizza was decent, not amazing. But the kids thought it was good. The kids thought it was great. Because their definition is not my own.
Defining “good” in a given situation isn’t confined to kids vs. adults. It could be about where to live, what route to take to work, how to spend a Sunday afternoon or the Christmas season. Or it could be about where to go for dinner on a Saturday night.
I’m just glad my kids are still talking about their pizza.
I’d love to hear examples in comments of how differing opinions and disparate definitions of “good” have played out in your own life.