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Where do y'all wanna go eat?

Life with daughters is full of important questions. What's the best way to provide for their education? How can we ensure that they grow up with a solid moral compass? How can we keep them from dating until my first hip replacement? While finding the answers to these inquiries is vital to the successful rearing of girl children, the most frequent, urgent and fraught question of all in my household revolves around where we are going out to eat next.

Some people might consider this a rather trivial decision that can simply be made by the parents, who are, after all, in charge. Then again, these people clearly have no children-or are Amish.

Part of the problem is getting all three of my daughters to agree on one dining establishment, or even a general category of edible matter, which is like solving a word problem in differential equations (involving multiple watermelons and a wheelbarrow). Eventually, though, we decide on something that inevitably leaves someone disappointed and pouting-usually me.

Below is a brief breakdown of the local establishments we most commonly patronize based on our daughters' preferences, of course:

Olive Garden

My daughters love this place for one primary reason-pasta. All three of my children are devoted to pasta, any kind of pasta. As long as it's soft, noodle-like and laden with carbohydrates, they're on it like a congressional committee on a Trump associate. Why, you might ask, are they fixated on Olive Garden when there are so many other Italian-themed restaurants that don't make me grovel for my fourth personal basket of breadsticks? I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure it's the chocolate mints they give you with your bill. When the server brings those out, my daughters transform into rabid mixed martial arts specialists as they battle over my share-since I only associate mint with bad breath, not dessert. Unfortunately for my wife, my breath seems to be immune to the concept of minty freshness. (We're currently looking into a transplant.)

Panda Express

Yes, my girls really enjoy the cuisine of this Chinese-ish version of McDonalds (no offense to "The Mickster"). Now, I'm no cultural savant, but I'm pretty sure the food at Panda Express is about as Chinese as gourmet, gluten-free fortune cookies. Even the panda on the sign looks like he's thinking, "Come on, people. Really?" I have to admit, though, all of that monosodium glutamate is pretty darn tasty, even if I can't tell whether I'm eating the Walnut Shrimp, the Beijing Beef or the Orange Chicken. It all tastes like panda to me.

Taco Bell

Tex-Mex is my favorite type of food. In fact, I've never met a taco, fajita or enchilada I didn't like well enough to order another four to be sure. Although East Texas has some of the best Tex-Mex available, I still often find myself in the drive thru at Taco Bell, usually at the behest of my daughters. Despite being the butt (no pun intended-okay, maybe a little intended) of many jokes, Taco Bell does satisfy my burrito tooth, especially when it's 1:00 a.m. and I haven't had something wrapped in a tortilla for an entire 24 hours. At those times, I don't mind making a run for the border-and then the men's room. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)


Surely the heavens rejoiced upon the invention of the Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit, one of the very few good reasons to get up before 10:30 a.m. And if you miss breakfast, there are always the waffle fries (Let's be honest. Is there really any size other than large?). Another star in the deep-fried crown of Chick-fil-A is that they serve Diet Dr. Pepper, and nothing washes away the guilt of a high-calorie fast food meal like the artificially-sweetened aftertaste of a Diet DP. When it comes to Chick-fil-A, I don't care what their polite customer service reps say. It's MY pleasure!

I'll admit that our family dining repertoire is a little mundane, but it's worth it to me if my girls are happy. And I try not to complain too much-unless my hip is acting up again.

-Jase Graves

Jason (Jase) Graves is a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&MAggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate andhis blog.Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible. Hispiece, "Victoria's Worst-Kept Secret," is included inChicken Soup for the Soul: My Crazy Family.

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