If there's one thing you have to appreciate about Ben, it's his honesty. I should be more specific: his honesty when giving his opinion. If you ask him how the almost new body wash bottle got down to empty in the space of four days, he'll swear he has no idea. The toothpaste all over the faucet? Shoulder shrug. His brother's hairbrush in the garbage? Must have been the dog. But ask his opinion, and he doesn't hold back.
Sure, sometimes his opinions come unsolicited. And while his honesty can feel pretty brutal (Mom, you have a double chin; Dad, there's a booger in your nose), it's almost always funny when directed at someone else. In tonight's case, the unwitting recipient was the restaurant/dining hall where we ate dinner while visiting my mother-in-law's residence.
"Mom, what's that card?" Ben asked, pointing to the comment card on the table.
"Oh, it looks like a survey card, so you can tell the restaurant how they did. Let's see. Question 1) I received the correct food order. Question 2) My food was delivered timely. Do you know what 'timely' means?"
"That means it came in a reasonable amount of time after you ordered it. Question 3) My food temperature was acceptable...."
I read the rest of the questions with him, and showed him how it worked.
"See, after the meal, you read each question, and then select from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor and check the box next to the answer that fits your opinion."
"Oh, cool," Ben said, and placed the card and tiny pencil next to his plate before starting a game of "In My Backpack."
After about two go-rounds of the game, our food had yet to arrive, but I figured that since we were playing, the boys were distracted from this fact. I was wrong. When it was Ben's turn again, he leaned over to me and said in a stage whisper, "Well, timely is now at 'Good'".
Whether the staff heard him or not, I can't say. But about a minute after reciting, "In my backpack, I put: nine chocolate chip cookies, eight bowls of chicken noodle soup, seven lawn clippings, six basketballs, five salads, four biscuits, three buckets of blue cheese dressing, two Golden Retrievers and one glass of wine," the food showed up. Ben immediately picked up his pencil and checked 'Good' next to question two.
When the meal was through, he filled out the rest of the card, and in the space for his apartment number, he wrote, in very neat script, "non-resadint." I didn't correct him, in the hopes that the staff would get a chuckle over his feedback, and recognize that it was written by a child. And that maybe they won't hold his brutal honesty against us next time we visit.