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?