All the time

A recent visit by a friend with her daughter got us talking about how kids speak to people about certain topics. This one was about food, or more specifically, eating out at restaurants. Apparently her teen girl uses the expression “all the time” whenever she mentions restaurants she’s been to.

This mortifies her mom. 😶

“I don’t know what people think of us when she tells them we go to [any chain restaurant name] all the time. We really don’t go there that often!”

I know how she feels. Like her, we too tend to stick to home-cooked meals, or pick up from small local businesses more than visiting the chain eateries. I would also feel uncomfortable if a kid of mine would announce how we eat at Swiss Chalet or Kelsey’s all the time.

So we wondered, how did this expression come about then?

We turned to the girls and asked them.

“Some of our friends have never gone to Jack Astor’s,” one of them said. “Didn’t even know anything about it!”

I understood those kids. My family rarely ate out anywhere when I was a kid, and back in those days, some of the chain restaurants we are familiar with today didn’t even exist.

Well, neither my family nor my friend’s family are eating out at chains all the time. Why are they saying it like that?

“We don’t go there that often,” my friend exclaimed in shock to her daughter. “When you tell your friends we go there all the time you give the impression we eat out every week. And we don’t.”

We prodded our girls for more insights.

I asked my own kid which of her friends have not eaten out in places like that. She rattled off a list of names, and that’s when I understood.

“None of those girls are involved in team sports,” I said. “This is how you and your brother were introduced to chain restaurants. First through your brother’s hockey tournaments, later through your own. And in the summer, baseball tourneys.”

And not just tourneys, but away games too. How many times did we drive at least an hour to some obscure rink or diamond in some far away town and afterwards, it’s lunch or supper time and everyone is tired and sweaty and all hyped up so off we went to eat with part of the team to some chain because we knew what to expect, the prices were decent, and more often than not, someone had a gift card to cover part of the expense.

It’s true, that during tournaments, team activities typically included team meals at places like Boston Pizza, East Side Mario’s or at the IHOP (I hate that place. Ugh.).

Team bonding often happens outside of the sport. And eating is an enduring, constant occupation during tournaments…

My kids are also familiar with hotels, for similar reasons. Since an early age, they knew all about key cards for the doors, what floors the ice machine is located, what an ice bucket is and how you line it with a plastic baggie, what do do when you forget your toothbrush (ask at the concierge, they’ll give you one) and all sorts of other fun stuff like that.

So, yeah. The kids may interpret these special occasions occurring all the time, which isn’t exactly untrue. But to us parents, the expression makes us cringe. 🙃

17 thoughts on “All the time

  1. I hear that expression all the time and boy, does it bug me.

    As for chain restaurants, I’m not a fan but I definitely get the appeal when it comes to post-sporting events. And I will make an exception for certain places like Chili’s (mainly because of their Presidente margaritas!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Perhaps a related idea. I always laugh when someone under 25 says something like, “I’ve never seen that in my life!” I always think, you just haven’t lived very long. So maybe if you have been to X cafe 20 times it seems like all the time compared to their timeline. Not yours.


  3. I grew up semi-rural, in a village that has since been gobbled up by greater Tecumseh, Ontario. There was no public transit to speak of–no restaurants, chain or otherwise. My mother cooked dinner every night. Eating out was a luxury that we couldn’t afford, except, perhaps on long trips. When I went off to college, I was a bit of a rube. I didn’t know how to put money in the fare box on a bus. I was useless with house keys–having lived in a home that was never locked. Many of the ‘normal’ routines of a city were outside the scope of my experience. So, be glad that sports has forced you to expose your kids to casual dining out, and the occasional hotel or motel stay. It broadens their horizons, even as they enter a phase of ‘teen speak,’ the very purpose of which is to obscure meaning and appear even more ignorant than the rube I was as a teen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So you’re a Canadian girl. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I feel my kids will be just fine. The hotel and restaurant scene has dropped off significantly and will for some time with the covid situation, but I’m not unhappy about it. Nice to not have to rush around so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We never ate out either when I was a kid…..not until I was in university in the mid-70’s did eating out enter my life, other than an occasional trip to a fast food place of which there were only two, MacDonalds or KFC. I don’t think people in general spent money on restaurant food back then, certainly not in a nicer restaurant. It was probably considered a waste of money?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My family didn’t have much money either and once I got to highschool and my friends invited me out to Swiss Chalet, it was like a foreign concept to me to go out and eat at a place like that. I felt so grown up! But that only happened rarely. In fact, I can’t remember a single time my parents took us 3 kids out to eat anywhere…

        But my kids are used to it after years of competitive sports.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My first experience with Swiss Chalet was in 1977 – the one on Bloor St near the campus. My parents would always take us there when they moved us down for university. My mother still loves Swiss Chalet – it’s her favourite restaurant, and healthier than most.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I never paid attention to the syntax of child speak, just the intent. I learned quickly that two things were important: that I listened, and I spoke to them as a parent not a friend. Everything else will fix itself in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cause each of you is interpreting it differently. The mom because inside she fears that these meals make her look like “less” of a mom than the one who cooks nutritious home made meals every night. To the kid eating out makes them exotic and cool because all the time means it’s no big deal, it’s just how we live our lives. It’s not the phrase…it’s the implications…

    Liked by 1 person

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