Follow along as Ottawa-based sports reporter Ian Mendes writes about the joys of raising daughters Elissa and Lily with wife Sonia.
Last Saturday, we celebrated Lily’s sixth birthday here in Ottawa.
For the past few weeks she had talked about wanting to go out for sushi to mark the occasion. (Before you think she is a refined and polished child, I should let you know that she still throws tantrums when she can’t open a package of Bear Paws by herself.)
When we arrived at our table, the waitress immediately asked us for the ages of our children.
I had noticed that there was a special half-priced menu for kids aged five and under when he had first walked into the restaurant. Normally, I would have lied and said that Lily was five years old. She usually eats the same amount of food as a small bird, so it’s not like we’d be coming out ahead.
However, if I told the waitress that Lily was five years old, the birthday girl would have a major fit. After all, this was her sixth birthday. We spent all week hyping up the big day and it would seem weird to suddenly announce that she was still five years old to a waitress at an Asian restaurant just to save a few dollars.
So this time, I let it slide.
But to be honest with you, we’ve lied about our kids’ ages to get discounts for a long time.
We are very fortunate to have kids who are on the small side, so it’s very easy to pretend that they are younger than they actually are. My wife and I usually high-five each other when we come out of a paediatrician’s appointment and find out our girls are in the 10th percentile for height and weight.
Are they malnourished? Probably not.
Are we able to spin this into greater discounts? Absolutely.
Read more: Discount for good behaviour >
Seriously, I think if we put a bonnet on Lily’s head and smacked a soother in her mouth, we could fly her for free on any airline.
Last summer, we went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in London and the admission prices were ridiculous. It was going to cost us about 40 pounds per person to go into this tourist trap. But I noticed the small print at the bottom of the admission board that said kids who are three and under got into the museum for half the price.
So as we walked to the ticket booth, I simply scooped up Lily in my arms and carried her to the front. I walked up to the agent and said, “Four tickets please. Two adults, one eight-year-old and a three-year-old.”
The key is you have to be cool and confident; you can’t go to the booth like a nervous 17-year-old trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID. You need to own the situation and not raise any suspicions.
(I suggest carrying around a dummy soother and making a lot of references to Dora and Diego to really sell the whole story.)
Now that our kids are nine and six, the next major benchmark appears to be at 12 years old. You often see hotel signs that indicate “Kids 12 & under eat and stay for free.”
By the time our kids are teenagers, I will be in my mid-40s. I assume it’ll be too early for me to try and get a simultaneous senior’s rate — but I do have a few years to try and come up with a scheme to get a double-discount.