My McHappiness

Sometimes when we’re in public I swear all the smarts fall clear out of my kids’ heads.Due to Hungry Jacks’ inferior coffee, and KFC’s complete lack of play equipment, we arrived at McDonalds when our trip to the playground took a detour because the grounds still hadn’t recovered from recent flooding. And as we’d already told the kidlettes we were going to a park we had to quickly come up with an alternative.

Miss7 forgetting how to sit on a chair

Have you ever tried taking kids to McDonalds and NOT buying a McHappy meal? Pulling into a park we decided, given how close dinner time was and the fact Master19 was at work and Miss16 was at Grandma’s, to feed the troops: even then, an hour of free fun was now destined to tear $40 out of my wallet.

Three steps behind us as we crossed the carpark a woman arrived with four girls of roughly the same age as our quartet, although the youngest of hers was probably 2. Whereas we had all hands occupied clutching young children’s hands, and where we were a constant stream of, alternatively, threats and encouragements, this woman walked calmly behind her girls saying nothing while they filed across the road – in height order, no less – occasionally whispering to each other but still managing to remain equally spaced.

While Tracey and I ordered our meal Master5, Miss7 and Miss3 raced to the play area. Halfway through ordering, Tracey had to race to the play area as well, because we could hear Miss3 across the store bellowing through the plate glass at a random for some perceived slight and Master5 screaming because he’d bumped his head. Fortunately, so as to avoid anyone feeling left out, by the time Tracey arrived Miss7 had stubbed her toe and also needed comfort.

This left me at the counter with a tray (full to teetering with drinks, burgers, chips and toys), two McCafe latte’s to be picked up and Miss1.

Meanwhile, Mother Duck’s freaky four were still keeping formation even as they waited to be served.

After dumping the baby and food on Tracey I raced back for the coffees and, as I passed this woman, I congratulated her on her children’s behaviour. Rolling her eyes at my compliment like I was nuts, she said, “Oh, they’re a handful.”

If she’d followed me back to our table, which was so shrill and raucous a dogless blind man could navigate his way over, she’d have seen the definition of a handful. Miss1 was tossing fries like confetti at Miss7 who was eating them out of her crotch, Master5 had already lost a shoe and Miss3 was under the table pealing her gherkins off the floor.

When we arrived the play area was teeming with kids. After eating it took our kids no more than two minutes before they had the place to themselves: Mothers were scurrying off with their little darlings under their wings.

A lifetime later we arrived, exhausted, back at our car and Master5 announced he’d had fun but next time can we just go to the park?

I asked Tracey if next time I can just stay home.

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