Thursday, June 21, 2012

You Want McStress with That?

You've simply run out of quick healthy dinner ideas. It happens. Late afternoon consisted of whisking your kids from playdates to orthodontist, a pitstop home to lace up cleats, and then off to the ballfield for the fourth night in a row. You've got nothing left (both figuratively and literally) to grill, nor do you have the willpower to try to scrounge something together from what may or not have spoiled in the fridge.

Once the voices in your head stop cackling about what a horrible mother it would make you, berated and broken, you cave to the kids' incessant begging. You agree to go Golden Arches.

The queasy wave of parental guilt attempting to completely engulf you is staved off by the fact the kids are thrilled. Even your teenager gives you a rare hug. In their eyes, you are now Best. Parent. Ever.

You've been warned it's best to walk into the restaurant (the term "restaurant" meaning "building where fattening chemicals are deep-fried"). If you order inside, you can then supervise the order's assembly for accuracy.

However, the person who came up with that modicum of advice clearly does not have kids. Going in will make this whole three ring circus take five times as long. It will involve the younger ones climbing the playgym...the place where germs give birth to new germs, construct germ houses and even feed their microscopic germ dogs. (We met one of their dogs once. His name was Pox).

No, you've already eliminated all hope for nutrition, so you at least want to reap the benefits of purported warp speed and easy clean-up. You steer toward the drive thru, although you can't exactly drive thru just yet because it's crowded. Marvel that while most of America agrees fast food is artery-clogging poison, there's still a line at 8:00 at night.

When it's finally your turn to pause in front of the high-quality speaker system, sit there waiting for staff to notice you. There's plenty of time to imagine where on your mantel the kids can put your Best Parent Ever trophy. It'll probably go right next to the one your husband got last week, when he let them consume an entire family-size bag of cheese doodles and play video games for three consecutive hours while you were shopping.

At last, the employee speaks. "Wompclompa, wai  wyyy woomp yah wrorraah?"

You've been magically transported to a Snoopy cartoon where the adults portrayed have vocal clarity issues. Just assume it was some version of "May I take your order?"

This part is crucial. You have the fussiest kids on earth. One can't deal with onions. One can't stand pickles or cheese. None of them want the standard issue value meals as advertised, and mistakes will guarantee tears.

Because you can't understand the Voice-in-a-Box, you find yourself shouting your entire order slowly and deliberately, as if it can't hear you either. Place extra emphasis on the specifics of the boy-to-girl toy ratio. Your youngest son has never gotten over receiving a mermaid doll with 6 inches of flowing pink hair and sparkle gems while his brothers received Hot Wheels vehicles.

The unintelligible box asks what you believe to be a question since the indecipherable utterances went up in pitch at the end. "Yeew wompoa haaanr ohfaaana?"
Repeat your entire order to clarify, hoping you hit upon whatever point she was questioning.  Voice-in-a-Box replies with another inquiry about wanting to add anything else/supersize/try a dessert, etc.

Deliberately answer in gibberish and drive ahead, so for a change it will be her wondering what the heck you just said. Your kids crack up. You are so getting that trophy.

Too bad the people in front of you haven't received their orders yet, so your car has only advanced about one yard. When drinks are handed to you in a tray contraption sure to tip over, instead place each into one of the minivan's 22 built-in cup holders. It only seats 7 and the miles-per-gallon sucks, but by golly, the genius engineers made sure everyone could transport about 3 drinks each at any given time.

You know you should pull over and double-check your order but again, there's that whole too late and too tired thing, plus the kids are completely famished beyond hysterical by this time of night. Elect to drive home. 

In the kitchen, your fries gets cold while you scrape melted cheese and flick diced onions off burgers, promise one crying child you will go buy a toy to replace the included one she just broke, and defend you definitely requested BBQ sauce for the chicken nuggets although said sauce is nowhere to be found. Try to ignore it when child slams his bedroom door. 

Your trophy must have gotten thrown in the McTrash.

Actual Time Spent at Fast Food Drive-Thru: 12 minutes
Real Feel:  25 minutes
Time Fast Food Saved as Opposed to You Cooking:  20 minutes
Amount of Aggravation and Indigestion Caused:  Enough to render it not worth it.

TALK TO ME:  What do you say when your kids beg you for fast food? Unless you have the kind that never ask at which case maybe YOU deserve a parenting trophy.


  1. This was another fantastic post, Christie, had me laughing so hard my husband thought something was wrong with me.

    I don't have my own children yet, but I've certainly been in the situation where I've been begged for fast food by children. Usually the kids end up getting their way in the end no matter how hard I try to battle, but thankful parents are forgiven as long as their children's tummies are full. When I have children, I hope that they chose the healthy meal, but I know that just won't happen and one day they'll get their way and their greasy fast food.

  2. Thanks, Felicia! That's great you've already had a few "practice drills" re: the fast food begging. Believe me, nowadays most of us are really health conscious parents (you should see me battle with my one son about how I'll only buy whole grain bread...and refuse his request for chemical-laden white with zero nutritional value).

    But then again, even I must admit those fast food fries are tasty once in a while. I figure as long as it's a rare treat, go ahead and indulge. And there are nights I am definitely THAT tired ;)

  3. "microscopic germ dogs. (We met one of their dogs once. His name was Pox)."

    Too funny! and yes, I am the mom who is always pointing out how sliding your hands on the bus window/subway/any urban surface is a fine way to collect FILTH. On Your Hands. Nasty.
    I console myself that metal surfaces are not as welcoming to the germ-hordes, but those ball pit places? Germ Block Parties which are now On Your Hands. . .

    1. I absolutely love the visual of Germ Block Parties taking place on your hands! I will be forever picturing that when my kids touch germy surfaces...and touch them, they do. Ugh.


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