Two nights ago, my wife and I asked the “youngers” (what I call the 10 and 11-year-old boys) what they wanted to do for a Saturday family fun night. My two older stepsons were visiting my in-laws, so the youngers could choose anything they wanted.
Fear gripped me. The thought of spending the same amount, if not more, for Red Lobster as I would at a truly excellent Mexican or Thai restaurant made me cringe. It also reminded me of a book I read by Joe Queenan called “Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon” where he opined:
The Red Lobster menu consisted almost entirely of batter cunningly fused with marginally aquatic foodstuffs and configured into clever geometric structures. I immediately began to suspect that the kitchen at Red Lobster consisted of one gigantic vat of grease in which plastic cookie molds resembling various types of food were inserted to create a structural resemblance to the specific item ordered. This was the only way to determine whether you were eating Buffalo wings or crabcakes. Technically, my dinner–The Admiral’s Feast–was a dazzling assortment of butterfly shrimp, fish filet, scallops, and some mysterious crablike entity. But in reality, everything tasted exactly like Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even the French fries.
But, I remembered getting excited to go to Red Lobster in the 1970s when my parents probably had the same reaction I did in 2016.
So, we loaded up in the truck and headed over to Red Lobster on a Saturday at 4:48pm so we could avoid the rush. And I am glad we did. By the time we finished at 5:50pm, the place crawled with predominately senior adults.
What is it about Red Lobster? Is it the cheesy biscuits? Is it the novelty of eating crab legs and shrimp? Is it seeing the lobsters in the tank when you walk in? The youngers confirmed each of those were awesome.
As we get older and responsibility increases…especially as single dads…we can lose sight of the awesome. As my friend, @scottsavagelive, reminded his congregation yesterday, “familiarity kills wonder.” Have I lost sight of the wonder and awesomeness of Red Lobster?
No, I tend to agree with Joe Queenan about the awesomeness of Red Lobster. But I forget my son sees the things I find familiar in a completely different way. He sees lobsters, paintings of lighthouses, nets on the walls, cheesy biscuits, peach lemonade, and the crab leg cracker with fresh eyes and a sense of it being special. I see polyester and mediocre seafood.
However, I recognize as a dad I do not foster the sense of wonder enough. I do not take enough time to ask him how he sees the world and what he finds amazing.
Engaging in this discussion with him may allow me a greater sense of awe for what I consider familiar, but is, indeed, amazing. I want to foster a sense of excitement, not crush it.
What was amazing to you as a kid that your parents probably cringed at? How could you foster a sense of wonder in your parenting?