Welcome my kid and she’ll be begging us to return.

On a recent Saturday night, my wife and I were trying to decide what to have for dinner. We both thought that sushi sounded good, but weren’t sure how to make that happen with an 8 year-old. We decided to go anyway and pledged to teach our daughter about it.

When we arrived, there were other kids there, so it wasn’t a situation where they don’t want kids there. I have no interest in bringing my kid somewhere that they’re not accepted. However, what could the sushi restaurant have done to not just accept her, but welcome her? It’s a slight, perhaps seemingly meaningless distinction, but one that I felt in that moment. They did nothing for her. No paper menu. No kid-focused items on the menu. No cheater chop sticks. No explanation what anything is. 

It left us to take care of everything for her. We ordered some things that we thought she might like, we talked to her about what sushi is, we explained how to use chop sticks. She really got into it, enjoying the rolls we ordered and asking the waiter for an extra set of chopsticks so that she could practice at home. But you know what, since she was treated like an adult, she hasn’t begged us to go have sushi again and we’re not pushing it.

“What do you want them to do, turn the sushi restaurant into a McDonalds?” No. So no. I want them to create a good experience for her. I want them to teach her and us. I want them to have items that will be easier for her to eat. Don’t give us chicken fingers and grilled cheese, but maybe give her a smaller sized roll or something without seaweed on the outside that she might have trouble eating through. Use the same ingredients that you use for adults, but bring it down to a kid’s level. Have cheater sticks for her. Print a really nicely designed menu that teaches her what to expect.

Treat her like she matters and she’ll want to go back. And we will.