Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I survived McDonalds Playland HELL...

There is something about taking my kids to McDonald's that tugs at me morally...

Meet 1st Mom: the "fun-I-don't-need-to-make-a-life-lesson-out-of-everything" mom that thinks in the whole realm of parenting, a few trips to Mickey D's is NOT a big deal.

Then there is 2nd Mom: The "why-would-I-let-my-kids-eat-unidentifiable-meat-and-fried-foods-while-touching-trillions-of-germs" mom that thinks NO MOM should EVER be in the drive-thru let alone take her child INSIDE.

Well, I guess my 1st Mom won yesterday but then fell victim to 2nd Mom's uppercut by the time we left. Talk about conflicting personalities! I had a knock-down-drag-out with MYSELF, right there, in the middle of PLAYLAND HELL!

My third child has missed out on frivolous playdates that my older two had on a weekly basis. I actually scheduled playground visits so that we were sure to visit a new playground each time we went. We lived in Binghamton, NY when my older 2 were toddlers and Binghamton is the Carousel Capital of the world...or something like that! There were enough playgrounds in the area, many with working carousels, to keep us busy for the whole summer! Of course, in Binghamton, summer lasts about 20 minutes.

I feel bad for 3rd children. By the time they come along, the "fun" impromptu trips and picnics on the playground fall victim to the long to-do list that bears the names of the first two children more than once. There are uniforms to be picked up, school supplies to grab, meetings to attend, yada, yada, yada! Field trips for 3rd children usually include a shopping cart and a "keep him busy" bag filled with stickers, crayons and "don't-bother-me-to-open-this" kind of snacks.

Yesterday I decided I was going to give my son, now 4, his FIRST Mommy & Me trip to the Mecca of Childhood (gag), McDonald's Playland. It took me a couple stops to even FIND a McDonalds that HAD a playland. See, with your first two kids, a map of all playgrounds and fast food playlands is burned onto the surface of your brain like a Mommy GPS. 10 years ago I NEVER would have had to FIND a playland...I could have gotten there with my eyes closed.

We walked in and up to the counter as my son's eyes grow to the size of the Frisbee that is in his Happy Meal. The whole way to the doors of Playland I am talking myself through this decision:

"It's OK, just this one time."

"I should have gotten the apples instead of the fries, but they have some sicko preservative on them that is probably worse than the grease the fries are cooked in."

I clench my purse, "Do I have Germ-X in my purse. Oh, dear God, PUH-lease let me have hand sanitizer!"

As I begin to hyperventilate (...breathe...breathe) my son turns to me with his big blue eyes and says "thank you" without even moving his lips. The look of, "Holy Crap, she took me to Disney World" was the paper bag I needed to regulate my breathing.

He sat and ate some of his lunch and then wanted to check out the amusement park that was inviting him with its stench of sweaty toddler feet. He begged me to follow him up the narrow steps into a tree-shaped man. That in itself kind of freaked me out. As I considered following him and being the "fun" mom I've been in the past, I imagined my hands touching the sticky plastic that was screaming of SWINE FLU, so I encouraged him to "be a big boy" and told him " Mommy will stand right here and watch." And off he went.

I just sent my child into the HALL OF SNOT like it was no big deal. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Well, at least he is done eating and I can take most of the 'germ worry' off my proverbial parent-responsibility plate as long as he doesn't stick his hands in his mouth and I sanitize everything he is wearing.

And with that thought, he shoots out of the slide and was 1/2 way to his left-overs before his feet hit the floor. I did the slow motion, deep knee bend thrust as I yelled "NOOOOOOO!" and lunged toward our table, knocking over 6 snotty-nosed crying kids along the way.

With BOTH hands he grabbed his last piece of cheeseburger and stuffed the WHOLE thing (E.coli and all) into his little face. I slumped to the floor...but stood up quickly when I realized there was a pool of something wet seeping through my jeans...and gathered myself. I watched ketchup drip to his chin and grasping for sanity, I comforted myself with the notion that maybe all the E.Coli was in that drip. That. One. Drip. I proceeded to dig out the gallon jug of Germ-X from my purse and poured it over him.

Despite all the boogers, bullies, belches, bodily fluids and boo boos that I witnessed, he had a WONDERFUL time. How do I know this? Come on moms, isn't the height of the needle on the fun-gauge always directly related to the size of the tantrum that results when the words "Time to go" are spoken? Well, if this IS the case, then he had a freakin' blast!

I gave him a bath when we got home and let him play in the soapy-disinfectant water for about 7 hours. That probably took care of all the external germs and I am confident that the overnight Germ-X IV drip took care of the internal ones.

I think the Happy Meal Toy needs to be a HazMat suit...when I see THAT on a commercial, we will head back to the HALL of SNOT, until then...

Any suggestions of sanitary, snot-free fun?



Christina said...

Chick-fil-a might help to relieve your stress. They have decent food and the playground is very clean. Not to mention to huge box of purell wipes on the door. Most McD's playground freak me out too, especially the outside ones (they seem the dirtiest). SO check out CFA or maybe pack a lunch from home and head to a park like Manderach in Limerick to help!!

Misty Stoltzfus said...

My kids think eating at McDonald's is the BEST (even my 8 year old) - mostly because they have cool toys in their Happy Meals (most of which end up in the trash at some point). They also enjoy Subway (although I must say the toys in the kid packs are quite a let down). The smiles and excitement as they walk into McD's and run to the "toy case" tells me it is worth it to go once in a while. The older 2 work so hard in school, and put up with my somewhat healthy meals at home MOST of the time. I definitely think moderation is key. I do like Chick-fil-a's playground, but my kids do NOT like their chicken (much to my dismay) and me being a pretty frugal mom, will not go somewhere and pay for them to eat when they won't eat it!! I have always discouraged the playland because, I tell them, "if you get stuck, mommy will NOT come get you!" or I say, "I don't think it is open today" However, occasionally, they do go in the tubes and have a blast chasing and hiding from each other. I do have them totally WASH when they get home, and I also keep Germ-X in the car:) There is definitely a balance. I actually love the little Morgantown Park (Friendship, I think?). Kristel and I go there every once in a while. They actually have flush toilets (when the bathrooms are unlocked) and have basketball and lots of pavement for the older ones to bike, scooter and skateboard. There is also Chuck e Cheese - and if you go during the week and early - there is no one there - it is fantastic! I took Kristel the first week of school, and she could play all the games and it was SO quiet!!!

Theta Mom said...

OMG! I can so relate! I went to a party there last year and it was a total nghtmare. I am a germ freak, so that is not the place to be!!!

Julie said...

HA! I've had those kind of moments at McD's too. I got a good laugh out of your description of the experience!!!

KathyB said...

from a mother who is done with all that, I chuckle....sorry, but thanks for the memories, and a reminder of how happy I am that they are growing up. I'll bookmark this for my "I miss my baby" moments, lol!

CraftyMomof3 said...

I worked at McDonalds back in the day. I don't let my kids play there...need I say more? It's not the food that bugs me. I relented when my son was four because my mother shamed me into it with the whole "you did it when you were a kid and didn't die" thing. He was sick for a week. Ew.

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

This cracked me up! What a great post!

I will grudgingly go through the drive up at McDonalds, but I refuse to go in. Ugh. Fortunately, the one on our town doesn't have a play area.

Kim said...

That was an awesome visual! I pictured the slow-mo & the laughed like crazy!

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

Oh I am totally suffering with you!!! YUCH - hate the place but my son loves it!

(BTW - this is Janice commenting. Susan was using my laptop earlier and I am too lazy to sign out and sign back in. Yes - I am that lazy tonight.)

Anonymous said...

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AJ said...

I was at the Playland on Peterson yesterday. My two girls made friends with some other kids right away and had a blast. I sat at a table and got some work done. We were there almost 3 hours. A great place to burn off some cabin fever. That’s how I bumped into your blog, looking for other playlands.

Then we got in some Dad time at Menards, Lowe’s and Home Depot. The kids were bummed that the Oakton Menders took their play area down but we got the bolts we came for without too much meltdown.

Today is Chick E. Cheese. Thanks for reminding me about Germ-X. I’m usually a member of the eating dirt builds resistance camp, and we’ve managed robust health up to now, but why press our luck.

We haven’t been there for some time so I know the girls will be in kid heaven. I’ll probably sneak some Skee Ball in myself.

I have to confess; I used to be one of those deranged parents who mastered a game so they could give their kids 1,000s of tickets so they could get an extra plastic centipede. It was one of those drop the token through the slot of the rotating wheel games. I mastered the timing so I could nail it for 200 tickets with every token. They wised up and took the thing out so now I sit at a table and get some work done, and some Skee Ball, which I stink at… for now.