I took my kids for a happy meal.
We had a long weekend in San Francisco, and Sunday included a park at 7 am, photos in a firetruck on our way to the streetcar, followed by a streetcar ride to the Academy of Sciences for the Snakes exibit, another streetcar ride, burritos from Gordos (best burrito in town), And all this by 11 am.
Next came an hour and a half long car trip to La Honda for the Driscoll Ranch rodeo (which I highly recommend), and a 2 hour car trip home.
The special treat they got at the rodeo (a full, cold can of 7-up each) is about as crazy as we get on the high fructose corn syrup. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that those were the first full sodas they had ever had to drink. They guzzled them like it was the most delicious thing to ever touch their tongues.
I was exhausted, and everyone had to pull over to pee on the side of the road on the way home, including me. Pulling your pants down to pee is not nearly as fun when you are almost 30 years old. It’s nasty. Uncomfortable. And you might splatter pee on your foot.
So here we are, tired, coming down from our HFCS high, hungry and anxious to get home to see Daddy. I mention that for yet ANOTHER special treat (the 1,650th of the weekend), we can go through the McDonald’s drive thru.
“Mommy? Can we go with you?”
“Um, yes, babe. We just roll down the windows and order our food”
“No, mommy. You DIDN’T HEAR ME. I want to go WITH you to get our food.”
“OK. You can totally stay in the car with me and I’ll just drive to the restaurant window to get food.”
“Mooooommmmmmyyyyyy. Aren’t you listening….?”
Clearly my kids are not familiar with the concept of the drive thru. Which made me strangely proud and not quite as guilty for subjecting them to the worst possible dinner.
I have tons of fast food guilt. I know it is barely even food. In the last year, I have started actually looking at the food rather than shoveling it into my face, and that makes it barely palatable.
The only reason I even mentioned McDonald’s was because of the drive thru aspect.
Let me just make it clear that I was very. fucking. tired.
So we get on the road, headed back over the Golden Gate Bridge, and my daughter pipes up from the back seat again.
“I really, really want to sit in a cozy restaurant and eat. That would be a much nicer date for us as a family”
So we park. Then we spend 5 minutes looking for Rhys’ socks, which he took off and threw all over the car. I recommended we just forgo socks, and he throws a fit because he’s very particular. Fuck.
Darian is wearing a velvet Mrs. Claus dress. I have a pee splattered foot.
At least Rhys is wearing socks, I guess.
We walk into McDonald’s and I am overwhelmed by the fog of grease and salt that seems to settle right at nose level. It sickens me, and I can actually feel the zits forming under my skin.
I glance at my bambinos, ogling the Smurfs figurines, and relax for a moment. A wave of nostalgia replaces the grease/salt fog as I remember how much I used to love to eat in fast food restaurants as a child.
The line moves quickly, and D and R are running around like crazy people in and out of the doors. It’s almost my turn to order and I haven’t even had a chance to look at the menu, so I glance up and realize:
“Oh shit, what the hell am I supposed to eat. I can’t eat anything here! My poor body will revolt and I’ll have the runs for days!!! Dammit, Roy, what were you thinking???!!!”
It’s too late. I order 2 kid’s nugget meals.
“Uh , sure”
“Fries or apples?”
“Apples. Yeah, apples.”
Scanning the menu again, I settle on the “Chicken Select” strips, which look to be the least offensive thing. My children are now outside, playing by the outdoor tables. I hate this place.
No one asks me if I want apples instead of fries for my meal (and I didn’t, really, because fries taste gooooood.)
I asked for a water to drink and he told me “oh, I can’t do that.” What the fuck. I HAVE TO order a HFCS disaster soda or my meal costs more? I give up. This was a horrible idea.
I am way too exhausted to argue, so I change my request to a Coke, pay my check and get outta line. I was clearly annoying the cashier, who is used to people coming in knowing what they want and how many pieces come with what.
My food arrives in 30ish seconds. This creeps me out even worse, but it’s great for the kids, who need something to focus on before they run into the street.
We unwrap the nuggets, the apples, and their ranch dressing. Wait, this isn’t ranch. It’s caramel sauce. THEY PUT FUCKING CARAMEL SAUCE IN THE HAPPY MEAL FOR THE SLICED APPLES.
I should have hid the sauce. But I’m already this far into our little “adventure” so what the hell.
Darian eats her apples, licks the caramel sauce out of the container and drinks/blows bubbles in her milk. I force 2 nuggets down her throat, threatening to not give her the Papa Smurf toy unless she at least tries them. This is ridiculous because I realize that I’m force feeding my kid chemicals and gristle. I’m a winner.
Rhys eats his apples and spits out the nugget that he tries. He’s covered in caramel, but I don’t think he actually ate any of it. All his milk is gone.
I eat my food because I’m hungry. The chicken strips taste like cardboard salt. The fries are excellent. An old man compliments we on my children’s manners, while Rhys is smearing caramel on the table and Darian is blowing milk bubbles.
The next morning, Darian wakes up with a stomach ache and asks “mommy, why did you give me all that bad food to eat. You are supposed to feed me healthy stuff.”
All I could think to say was “I know, baby. I know. Let me rub your belly. We’ll eat vegetables from now on.”