Monday, December 15, 2008

How I learned to stop worrying and start loving McDonald's

Last winter Ronald and I had a huge falling out - HUGE.

As a result I wrote a nasty letter that I still consider one of my finest literary endeavors. And then he said sorry. And we made up. And it was all for the greater good.

But I was still wary, you know? He just wasn't someone I wanted to get to know intimately or hang out with on a regular basis.

Until now.

Until I discovered that a new fast food restaurant located just blocks from my home has a two storey, state-of-the-art playground and climbing gym. And that Graham will happily play there (with other kids!) for hours leaving me to watch him whilst contentedly settled into a cushy seat with my newspaper.

How did I not realize this before?

It was only last week when, despairing of another cold and snowy evening trying to pry Graham away from the television, I ventured there for the first time. When he first stepped into the play area he was nervous, but within minutes was screeching like a banshee and running around like mad trying to keep up with the other kids. Graham barely noticed when I retreated to my newspaper and later he chattered all the way home about his "little buddies."

And so when this past Saturday dawned cold and wet and Rob was sleeping off a night shoot, it only took a few choruses of "But mommy please, all the children are waiting for me!" (for real!) before I relented and made a return trip.

This time he dashed in the door and very nearly into the arms of a girl just a little older than him who hugged him and exclaimed "Oh look! A new friend for me!"

And once again I settled with my paper onto a stool, this time beside a stocky, friendly-faced man with a thick Hungarian accent who I soon learned was the father of Graham's new girlfriend.

"Thank God for McDonald's, eh? We have no other child at home. Where else can she meet kids and run around and play like this on a Saturday in the winter?"

I couldn't think of anywhere else.

So I sipped my coffee and nodded in agreement. And before long we got to chatting he and I, about raising kids, about our own childhoods, about parenting here as opposed to in Europe and about our similar fears for our only children and how important we felt it was for them to socialize with others.

And we sat like this for over two hours talking and watching our children and laughing when they alternately popped out for quick bites to eat and hugs and breathless recaps of the games they were playing.

Sure I felt like a hypocrite, or worse, a cliche, relinquishing my cool, to say nothing of my cherished objections to mass marketed cheeseburgers and play areas, for a chance to read my paper and drink my coffee in peace. Apparently I am just like all the moms who came before me, to whom I used to secretly or perhaps not-so-secretly assume myself vastly superior.

But I don't care.

I'll probably take Graham back again this weekend: he loves it there and, God help me, I kinda do too.

I can't explain exactly why, but I feel inexplicably that last Saturday was exactly what this overextended, harried, career woman needed: to sit for hours in a fast food restaurant, sip coffee and chat with an amicable stranger with whom I have nothing and yet everything in common.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

41 comments:

Brittany said...

OH that letter! i remember that letter!! God bless that play area! We need a two-story one here!

KD @ A Bit Squirrelly said...

Play areas are gifts from the universe for a mother's sanity. Enjoy the time and freedom.

Mr Lady said...

Gorgeous, baby. That sounds awesome.

Michelle said...

I don't blame you. I do the same thing, but for me it's at Chapters/Indigo... they have trains and a kitchen and really good coffee. Peanut will happily play there for at least an hour and a half and better yet, there are BOOKS!
I completely understand.
I have to say that I couldn't handle the McSmell for that long. As soon as the door opens and that waft of french fried steam hits my face I want to barf (aside from the twice a year when I NEED a big mac). One of these days DMD we have to meet up. Don Mills isn't that far from my 'hood... Just sayin'.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I can totally relate. BUT, spray him down in anti-bacterial gel when he's done playing. Come to think of it, do it every time he pops out for a bite to eat. Think about it: 1) hands on gross play structure where other kids nasty feet have been, 2) put hands in mouth when eating a french fry, 3) repeat 20 times

ICK

McDonalds is so fun. But also a germ factory.

I know, I know... I'm torn myself many a time.

Corey~living and loving said...

I hate that I'm the mom that spent the entire time reading this wondering exactly how many germs he came in contact with. sigh....I am definately that mom. How did this happen to me?

flutter said...

can't say as though I blame you, love

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

That sounds like a nice way to relax. I may have to implement operation McDonalds playground when my son is a little older.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

A few germs are worth the fun he had (and the break you got.) It's funny sometimes how we have these parenting moments when we least expect it and where we least expect it.

Of course there was the time we were at a mall play zone for kids and a little girl was visibly oozing green snot from her nose and I was freaked out. Stay away from that kid.

♥spoiled mommy♥ said...

Awwww-I wish I had a place to take my Lil Princess. When she turns 3, Im going to put her in dancing school-well cause if youve seen any of the videos, she LOVES to dance & sing.
But she too, is all alone here...just has the 2 big kids to hang out with and they just arent so much fun...nothing like a little person her own age.
Im glad he had a blast & you as well!

SciFi Dad said...

We sometimes go to McD's on weekend mornings - it's a way to get my wife some extra sleep and my kid to move around. The problem is my daughter is such a tender hearted soul that she ends up wanting to leave because the more typical hyper kids freak her out.

Vic said...

I would love to have something like this near us - unfortunately our local place charges £7 a time and extortionately more if you want food or drink. Consider yourself lucky, even if it is the house of Ronald McD.

kgirl said...

All things in moderation, eh?

There's a big difference between small fries and taking advantage of a play area on a saturday afternoon, and making it your default dinner option twice a week.

I haven't ventured there yet, but you know, two children and three years later, I'd consider it an option.

kbreints said...

Oh I totally get it! Good for you! And wonderful for Graham!

InTheFastLane said...

I understand the need and the internal controversy. Kind of speaks to the need of having indoor play places for kids in the winter in cold climates.

Heather said...

It's so wonderful to have indoor places for the kids to burn off energy in the winter time!

Errant said...

it's disneyland for children .. honestly .. i wish i can go play there one day ..lol

common mom said...

It's a cheap version of Disneyland :-)

Take what you can get . . . they outgrow that place all too quickly if you ask me . . . and it is a fun place for them to be . . . safe, other kids to socialize with, and a break for mommies and daddies everywhere.

Ali said...

my kids don't like the play areas. what's WRONG with them?!?!?!

Parent Club said...

Have you tried Playground Paradise in Don Mills? Graham would LOVE it.

Mac and Cheese said...

And the fries! Ohhhhh those fries...

Magpie said...

I can see how that was a little tiny vacation...

Mandy said...

That letter was the first time I read you!

I'm all about what works in parenting. Glad you found a routine that is good for both you and Graham.

Lisa said...

sounds wonderful! Wish mine had that same type of play place ;)

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

A lot of MickyD's Stateside also have WIFI. That and their new $4.00 McCafe coffee line and they can give Starbucks a run for their money - something for mommy AND child.

KEEP BELIEVING

Karen MEG said...

Oh I hear ya... I was also so vastly superior when I had the boy ;). But then he never really liked the McD playlands much when he was Graham's age.

The girlie needs her fix every so often though, and that's just fine by me. I just wish, especially now, that they made better salads (do they even still serve salads???!!!)

I was thinking the same about other indoor playgrounds, if there are any in your neighbourhood. I think a lot of those places tend to be frequented more by SAHM's, the hours aren't great for moms who work out of the home. And then again, you can't really beat "free" on a weekend morning either.

Good for you for taking the break!

Kat said...

Sounds like a win/win to me! :)

ewe are here said...

A two storey indoor playground? I'll be the cliche... totally worth it!

Joanna said...

Welcome to the club.

angie said...

Your McDonald's letter was the first "thing" I read of yours, and I've been coming back every day since. :)

I actually like their salads and like that there is a healthy choice available.

Mommica said...

I don't care - give me the choice between a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Creme Brulee and I'll take the burger any day. So will my ars, but that's another story. You go enjoy your paper time, pumpkin, and let Graham have the time of his life at Mickey D's.

Shannon said...

I hear ya!! I watched Super-size Me and decided on the spot no kid of mine would eat at McDonalds EVER. But the cold winter got to me too, and I also stumbled upon a two-story restaurant too, and took my boys there for a couple hours. It was fantastic - other parents were friendly and nice, it was clean, and the kids were so freaking thrilled with their crappy, two-cent toy that it totally made their entire weekend.

I'll definitely be going back :-)

p.s. I found their coffee oddly good.

April said...

I was boycotting them for a while, but when I found out that the owner of the majority of the Burger Kings out here contributed to the anti-gay marriage prop, and remembered that McDonalds had given 20k to support the Gay & Lesbian community, I decided it was time to switch my loyalties!

Lisa b said...

I hardly ever go to mcdonalds but just today I was remembering how fantastic it was last time when
my bf and I let the kids loose on the play structure.

just like when we were kids. its awesome.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I never understood the allure, but then I live in San Diego where there's good weather most of the time, so we could always go to the park. I can definitely see why you'd love it. How wonderful to see him having such a great time.

Barrie said...

How this for an admission? I actually like McDonald's coffee! Anyway, I say with parenting, you gotta do what works. Even if it means relinquishing a bit of cool. :)

Chantal said...

Been there, do that :)

Elaine A. said...

I am glad you both had a lovely time! : )

Do y'all have Chick Fil A there? That is where I find my respite sometimes...

wheelsonthebus said...

as far as i'm concerned, one of the best features of my house is the mall 3 blocks away with the soft play area. i totally get this post.

Jaina said...

I used to love playing at Discovery Zone before they went out of business. As long as Graham is having fun I think you're golden. :)

Anonymous said...

Why are you so hung up on being cool?

"... cling to the crumbs of my cool."

"... relinquishing my cool."

"... not-so-secretly assume myself vastly superior."

Typical for an film industry hack! Talk about pretentious ...
I realize there's a bit of satire involved, but come on.

Get over yourself!