#2: “What do you guys want?”

When it comes to breakfast at our house it usually starts off with the somewhat uninspired question from me asking the boys “what do you guys want?”  Of course, I have to ask it twice because the first time I ask they’re only paying attention to Looney Tunes or whatever other cartoon they’re sucked into watching.  Well, for our second Dads’ Bucket List outing we kind of flipped the script because this time it was the kids who sorta kinda made the breakfast this time around. 

Dave Rickell and his newest teammates

One of our dads, Dave Rickell, is what they call a big wig at Waffle House.  He hooked the whole crew up with a behind the scenes hands-on experience of what it takes to run one of these southern instititutions.  I kind of thought this was going to be one of those restaurant “tours” where he piles them in a booth and then lectures a bunch of 4 to 10 year old kids for an hour about the restaurant business as they’re squirming in their seats and looking up asking “when can we go home?”.  Make no mistake though, because that ain’t the way Dave Rickell and crew play.  Picture Dave channeling his inner John Elway as he huddled up his ten newest teammates and breaks it with a quick wave of the hand and says, “follow me”.  Just like that, the maestro is large and in charge and immediately has all the kids not in some lecture at a booth, but standing behind the counter staring eye level at the grill with sizzling eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc.  We dads knew our kids were going to get a hands-on education about exactly what they mean by “scattered, smothered and covered”.  After the grill it was on to the office, then the freezer and then the back room for some egg breakin’ (some in the bowl, some on the side of the bowl and some, well, on the floor), batter beatin’ and by the sounds of laughter a whole bunch of fun. 

Waffle House group pic

While the kids were occupied, the dads got to hang out and catch up while indulging in a little, make that a lot, of Waffle House fare.  The kids emerged with their appetites fully intact and proceeded to park themselves at the bar.  It’s nice to see the confidence and comfort of the kids kick in like when Brian Williams told his daughter Reagan that he had a seat ready for her at the booth he was in.  She pulled rank and let him know she’d be sitting at the bar with the rest of her peeps, thank you very much.  Or when I tried to place my son, Blake’s order, I got the ‘talk to the hand’ gesture followed by “dad, I’ll order for myself”.  Yes you will, Big Shot.  Yes. You. Will.  We finished breakfast and headed outside for some group photos and each kid got an overly generous bag of swag (t-shirts, water bottles, backpacks, buttons, coupons).  Dave and his Waffle House lieutenants Joey Anchors and Les Wellman did it up to the nines and there was plenty of back-slapping, handshakes and even high fives going around to express our appreciation.  From there it was off to Man’s Land, a.k.a. the Tellus Science Museum.
We pull into the parking lot and the first thing we see is one of those monster open pit mining trucks.  You know the one with wheel diameters well over 8 feet wide.

“I gotta get me one of these”

  We parked and made a beeline for some male ogling at these beautiful beasts.  The kids realized there was this grassy hill right next to the truck so immediately a race to the top of the “mountain” started.  Then a game of freeze tag ensued and we had to remind Grant Campbell that it was a kids only game (guy’s a gamer though, you’ve got to give him that).  The place was awesome and we hadn’t even darkened the doors yet. 

Once we got inside it turned into a massive game of herding cats.  There was so much stuff to see that kids were all over the place.  At some point, every dad looked to another to ask “have you seen mine around here?”.  There was an area with unbelievably big prehistoric dinosaur fossils.  Ever seen a 9.5 foot shark’s mouth that belongs to a predator longer than a school bus?  Well, now we have.   It’s some mind-boggling stuff when you learn that these behemoths were roaming the earth like 70 million years ago and early human forms date back only like 50,000 years (Ok, I feel like I’m chanelling my creepy Donald Sutherland professor in Animal House so back to the play by play).  There was a room dedicated to motion technology (think evolution of cars, planes and spaceships).  I heard one little guy say he wanted to be an astronaut when he grows up (dream, baby dream, but you may need to learn Russian because the way things are headed we appear to be outsourcing our once proud space program to Comrade Putin, but I digress).  An exhibit of hands-on experimenting (for the future Thomas Edison) a room of minerals (think of intro to geology or “Rocks for Jocks” as a certain Florida State alum with infinite knowledge of how athletes maintain eligibility pointed out) and even a gem miningand fossil digging exhibit.  Simply put, the place was awesome.

“Has anyone seen my kid around here?”

So listen, once again the Dads’ Bucket List group had a solid outing, but let me try to figure out a way to wrap this one up.  Maybe it’s with that same question that starts out many a dad’s day, “what do you guys want?”.  Maybe it’s as simple as eggs and bacon.  Or maybe it’s a more complicated answer about one day wanting to become an astronaut, a pilot, an owner of a restaurant, or even a geologist.  But for now, I suspect it’s just to be a happy kid and to spend more time experiencing days like we had today.  How could any of us dads not want exactly the same?  Bring on the experiences.  Go. See. Be. Do. 

About Matt Boettcher - Dads' Bucket List

Husband and dad to two boys who's always trying to enjoy the humor and meaning in the journey of fatherhood. Check out how things are going at: http://dadsbucketlist.com In addition to these responsibilities I'm also an avid (some would say obsessive) sports fan, very amateur gardener, aging but still active runner, and an always willing to experience a new country traveler.
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3 Responses to #2: “What do you guys want?”

  1. gmarkley says:

    Another great outing. If we didn’t already have the next generation of Waffle House fans, we secured it on Saturday. Thanks to Dave and the whole crew at the Cartersville store for letting us crash their place. Everyone was tremendous with keeping the kids entertained with the tour, buttons and most importantly, great food. It will be tough to top that one.


  2. Brian Williams says:

    Thanks again to Dave and his crew at the Cartersville Waffle House, they were very gracious hosts. Matt, well done on the write-up.

  3. Jerry Kopydlowski says:

    Great to meet everyone – Dave and his crew at Waffle House what an awesome time – Henry loved it as did I !!!! Great fun at Tellus (Herding cats that is exactly what I thought) Henry and I look forward to the next Sat outing. I must say the writup is quite immpressive ! Matt – CNN ??AJC ??


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