Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Emperor’s New Fuddrucker's Tee Shirt

Carter, my eleven year old, is the kid who calls it like he sees it.

And he saw Fuddruckers (no matter how much he loved the place) for what it was—naked.

No doubt when you have four hungry boys, there’s no better restaurant.  It’s clean and  fun for the family. And  their burgers—fabulous!

We’d eaten there so many times I began to take for granted the surroundings and the d├ęcor. 

Until Carter pulled on my sleeve, a confused expression on his face.  “Mom!” he whispered.  “Why would Fuddruckers put THAT on the wall?”  

I looked at what most of us would tune out like I did. A simple white tee shirt imprinted with bold black letters:  What the FUDD?”

I shrugged.  “That’s just the way the world is.”  I was ready to let it go.

Carter wasn’t. He pulled at my sleeve again. “But, Mom!”

I looked again at the tee shirt.  It was pretty awful for a family setting.  Carter’s in the fourth grade where even some of the sweetest kids start experimenting with foul language.  I’m grateful Carter’s not one of them. “I don’t get it, Mom,” he says.  “They all think it’s funny.  I think it’s stupid.”

I do too.  And I told him. And we told Fuddruckers.

We didn’t nag or complain, mind you—just quietly told them they’re better than that. 

We told them the truth—that we love everything about them and would love to keep coming.  But I have to back Carter’s values and decisions here.

Because when we came home that evening, he decided (not me—this had to be his call) that we won’t be going back.

His brothers agreed, and we told the restaurant with respect. After all, not going back meant giving up Carter’s favorite eatery.

When the owner of the restaurant called to follow up, he listened patiently. 

“Thank you, Carter,” he said. “I already felt uncomfortable about that shirt. It’s coming off the wall today.  I hope you’ll come back.”

I know. It’s just a tee shirt.  But with an eleven-year-old, it means learning that you can battle for good in a fallen world.

And win.