Ryan had a meeting after work today so I thought it would be a fun surprise to take all three kiddos to McDonald's to eat and let them play in the playroom. They frequently ask to do that and I always say "no." I thought it would be easier than trying to make dinner with everyone trying to play outside and the baby crying and pulling at my pant legs because he can't play outside without me. I thought it would be easier because then there would be no mess to clean up - at least no more than dumping our McDonald's tray into the garbage. I thought it would be easier because I could feed them, allow them to play and have a grand 'ol time, and let them wear themselves out. "Easier"....he, he, he! Nothing is ever easy. Oh, when will I ever learn?
So, picture it - I pull up to McDonald's - thank the good Lord we got a wonderful parking spot right up close so I don't need to worry so much about traffic in the parking lot. I unbuckle every one's car seats and we go barreling into McDonald's, straight to the counter to order. Well, I go straight to the counter to order with Oliver, 19 months old, on my hip. Claire(3) and Hugh(8) head to the display of Happy Meal toys anxiously hollering out to me what they hope to get. Then Hugh says "we're going to play, mom!" I say "Wait! What do you want to eat?" as they go running into the playroom. Hugh yells over his shoulder "chicken nuggets" and Claire says "me too!" Okay, fine. Oliver and I begin to order. As I'm ordering Claire comes running back out to me with her socks in her hand asking me to help her put them on (she was wearing her sandals and we took socks with us for the playroom.) I tell her to ask Hugh to help her. She runs back to the playroom waving her pink polka-dot socks in the air.
I turn back to the girl at the cash register who happens to be one of my former students. She is giggling at my crew and says "Your kids are getting so big!" I order Happy Meals for everyone and a large iced caramel mocha for myself. Oh, I couldn't wait for the iced caramel mocha! When our food is set on the tray, I set Oliver down and head him in the direction of the playroom. He runs in there super excited looking for his brother and sister. I, too, am looking for them and as I'm saying "Hugh, Claire??" and looking around, my beloved iced caramel mocha flips completely off my tray and hits the floor, splattering all over everywhere. Just as the pool of mocha widens and spreads throughout the whole entry way to the playroom, Claire and Hugh come running around the corner and I stop them just before they step in it. Right on their heels are three other little girls whom I don't know and behind them is a grandma who looks at me with sympathetic eyes.
I pick up Claire and help her over the mess as Hugh steps over it and takes Oliver's hand. I look back toward the counter where we had ordered and my eyes meet my former student's eyes. She then sees what has happened and I give her a "help me" look. She nods. I take the kids to the only available table and set the tray down. Behind me I hear the grandma telling her girls that someone is coming to clean up the mess. Hugh is stressing about the mess and I assure him I will make sure it is taken care of. I get the kids seated and am about to turn to go back to the mess, when my former student, being the sweetheart that she is, appears with another iced caramel mocha! Oh, I love her! I have always loved her! I'm sure she had no idea how much I needed that mocha. I thank her profusely and peek back toward the mess to see another McDonald's employee cleaning it up! I breathe a sigh of relief and turn my attention back toward my babes.
We are seated at the only table that is available in the play area. It is very close to a table where two very large women are seated. Their little girls are playing nearby. I try to quickly pass out all the kids' meals but I am hearing from my three munchkins "juice, juice" - "did you get me dip for my nuggets?" - "mama, will you open my apples?" - "what toy did Oliver get?" - "how do you make this work?" - "where is my straw?" While I am passing everything out there is a knock on the window from outside. I look up to see two of my students, sisters, a 4th grader and a 1st grader, grinning and waving to me! Oh, gosh. They are sweet girls but....well, I just didn't need one more thing. I smile and wave back. Ahhh...I finally get everyone settled in and begin peacefully sipping on my mocha. Yum! I start to relax. One of the ladies sitting next to us gets up to get something and then turns sideways to squeeze back into her spot at her table. Claire, who is now standing on her chair nibbling on a nugget watches the lady and then says "Those are big mamas! Wow! Those big, big mamas have big, big butts!" Oh. My. Gosh. I don't say anything to her but sort of peek over to see if the ladies have heard her. They are visiting and I don't think they heard anything. Hugh, however, is mortified. He glares at his sister and says "Claire, how about you put that chicken McNugget down and we go play now?" Claire agrees and off they go. Of course, since they went to play, Oliver wants to play too. I help him down, turn around with him in my arms and almost run into the two girls who are my students.
Let me explain about these two...they are very friendly, very sweet girls but they have some social issues. One of the biggest things I have noticed is that they do not understand about personal space and the older one, especially, is quite often in my face - literally, nose to nose. They are grinning and say "we were so surprised to see you here!" Uh, huh. Luckily the grown-up they are with calls them over and gets them to sit down to eat on the other side of the play area. I continue with Oliver and he climbs up to play with his brother and sister. I actually get a few minutes to go back and sit down while the kids play. They wave to me and I hear "watch, mama, watch." I watch and cheer and so on. The big, big mamas begin chatting with me and we laugh and talk about our kids. Whew...I don't think they heard Claire's observation.
Soon another family with 5 kids from our school comes in and again, are excited to see me! A teacher at McDonald's! Imagine! Yes, we do not live at the school. We actually are real people too!The big, big mamas are noticing that all the kids know me and are happy to see me. They ask if I am a teacher. I tell them "yes" and then they ask where I teach and what I teach. I tell them.
Soon Claire comes running and sort of dancing around, a look of panic on her face. "I HAVE TO GO POTTY!" she squeals. I grab Oliver's hand and take both of them into the bathroom while I ask Hugh to throw our tray of garbage away. I get the kids in the bathroom and get Claire on the potty as Oliver tries really hard to open the door. Then Hugh opens the door from the outside and joins us. He has our receipt in his hand. Claire is just finishing up on the potty and I help her. Hugh asks "Mom, is this our receipt?" "Yes," I say, "you can just throw it away." I see him studying the receipt. I also notice Oliver eyeing the toilet. I say "Hugh, please take your brother's hand and go out and throw the receipt away out there." I know he is thinking about his receipt collection he keeps in a secret compartment in the back seat of the van. He only keeps the coolest receipts. He continues to study it and Oliver heads toward the toilet. I repeat myself AGAIN and Hugh says "No, I'll just throw it away here." He puts his foot on the bottom of the garbage can where the little pedal is that is supposed to open the lid. It doesn't and he keeps tapping it with his foot. "HUGH, TAKE YOUR BROTHER OUT BEFORE HE GETS TO THE - " Too late! I let go of Claire and lunge toward the toilet just as Oliver sticks his hand in it. Ugh...I calmly say "Hugh, that is why I told you to take your brother out of here." I get everyone cleaned up and we leave the bathroom.
Greeting us right outside the bathroom door are the two little girls who have no understanding of personal space. They follow us and stay very close to my back as I pack up our things and try to get Oliver's shoes on him. I sternly instruct Hugh and Claire to go get their shoes as one of the little girls says "It must be hard having three kids." I say "no, piece of cake" and one of the big, big mamas laughs. I have to nearly push the girls out of the way to get to our bag (they just don't get it) and I carry Oliver out of the playroom with Hugh and Claire following. On the way by the site of the mocha spill, Oliver swings his hand down and takes ahold of the "caution, wet floor" sign and flings it out into the restaurant making a very loud clattering noise. I leave it. I don't even care. I am ready to go now. Claire is saying "mama, I don't have my shoes on!" We are at the outside door. I set Oliver down and grab his hand while I scoop Claire up with my other arm. Oliver then begins this new thing he does when we are in parking lots and he starts saying over and over "truck! truck! bye-bye in truck!" He seems to think we can pick out whatever vehicle we want and just climb in. He is always SO angry that I keep putting him in our boring old van. As he tries to take off toward the truck parked next to us I scoop him up in my other arm and his meltdown begins. Kicking and screaming and yelling "no, truck, truck!" (Again, I am thankful we have a great parking spot.) I pin them against the side of the van while I get my keys out of my pocket and open the door. Claire is still upset about not having her shoes on and at this point is begging for ice cream and Oliver is arching his back and SCREAMING at the top of his lungs. I inform them that everyone inside and outside of McDonald's is watching us. I get Hugh and Claire in and buckled and have to hold Oliver down to get him in his car seat. His fit continues.
I finally get in myself, close the door, and take a deep breath. I could really use another iced caramel mocha or...maybe I need something stronger. Claire says from the back "Well, that was embarrassing." Oh, brother. I thought about how I had chatted with the big, big mamas and how they now know that I am a teacher. After that fiasco, what do they think of me now? Probably glad they are from out of town. I look at the clock - 5:13. Ugh - two more hours until bedtime? I think about the car wash around the corner and try to figure out how I could just run all three kids through it to get bath time over with so we can go straight to bed when we get home. I snap out of the car wash fantasy and head for home. Oh, well. At least I am laughing about it now and tomorrow's another day, right?