Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Soul Searching at the Unpronounceable Restaurant

It was another Sunday at the Unpronounceable Restaurant (aka Qdoba.)

I always get there about three in the afternoon.

I always bring my "restaurant book." (I have certain books set aside for reading in restaurants and certain books that stay in the backseat of the car in case I stop somewhere and need something to read. There are specially-designated bedtime books and bathroom books and books that I carry to work so I can read them on my break.)

At the Unpronounceable Restaurant I always have the same thing for lunch and the person behind the counter almost always starts fixing it before I even place my order.

This past Sunday was no different: same time, same place, "restaurant book" in hand, meal halfway prepared before I even got to the counter. I even had the exact amount of money ready, including the four loose pennies, because my weekly lunch is always the exact same price.

Then I turned from the counter and saw that someone was sitting in my regular seat!

No, I did not turn into an enraged Papa Bear and demand, "Who's been sitting in my chair?" I just looked around and found another seat maybe six feet away from my usual spot. Let's face it, every institutional chair and table in that restaurant is identical and interchangable -- yet I still felt so flummoxed and agitated by this change in routine that I could barely focus on my "restaurant book."

That's when it hit me that I've become an awful creature of habit. And awfully old. Despite the fact that I'm on this blog every day doing as much as I can to share my love of children's books, I'd almost forgotten one of the things I like best about them. Books for kids are nearly always about lives in transition. They capture moments when change is not just possible...but pretty much necessary and inevitable. Nearly every children's book protagonist makes a journey of change and growth, usually (though not always) accompanied by optimism and hope.

It's something I need to remember.

Next Sunday I'll deliberately find a different seat...order a different lunch...bring a book from the "bedtime pile" instead of the "restaurant pile." Maybe I'll even go to a DIFFERENT restaurant. One I can pronounce.

Change is possible, always possible.

I read it in a children's book.


Anonymous said...

I call that restaurant "cue-doe-ba".

I would love for you to share how you learn so much about children's books. I realize it's probably accumulated knowledge from a life-long fascination with them, but do you have favorite books about books, or web sites, or...??

Thanks for a great blog, and congratulations on your 100th post.

Sharon Kugler said...

I enjoy your blog a great deal; it's informative and fun and insightful and unpretentious all at once. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm in such a clear, well-documented and personal way.

carterbham said...

I'm a big fan of your blog. I love what you wrote about what you love about juvenile lit, "Books for kids are nearly always about lives in transition. They capture...." I've been thinking lately about why I love kid books. I think I may want to pursue this idea more, perhaps talk to some folks in the industry. On another note, I had a question about a couple of books and I was wondering if you'd email me so I can ask. Thanks, Carter. carterbham@gmail.com