Several months before our twins were born I swore off fast food. I was roughly 50 pounds heavier than I am now and I wanted to lose weight and get in shape. I knew that once those buns were out of the oven and started running I was going to need to be in much better shape if I was going to keep up with them.
I was also one of those people who – before my kids were born – swore that I would never take them to McDonalds (or any other fast food joint). Buuuuuuut… then we were on a road trip when the kids were two and we needed a quick bite and a place for the kids to stretch their legs. We succumbed to stopping at a McDonalds. No surprise – the kids loved the food, not to mention the fact that the trinkets that came with the Happy Meals absolutely blew their minds. I mean, there were free toys!!!
That particular Mickey D’s didn’t have a PlayPlace, but it did have an enclosed patio. There was no one else on it, so we let the kids roam while they ate. This experience seemed to leave an indelible mark on their psyches, because every time that we passed a big yellow “M” after that we would hear a chorus of “McDonalds!!!” cheered from the back seat.
In time, we decided that McDonalds would be an okay once-in-a-while treat. And when they did experience a McDonalds with a PlayPlace for the first time, forget about it – they were McDonalds junkies. Whenever we would treat them to it, they would absolutely lose. their. minds. Each visit was like Christmas morning on a sugar rush.
Cut to me becoming a stay-at-home dad. They had recently turned three. I get monthly allergy shots and decided that their treat for not tearing apart the doctor’s waiting room each month would be lunch at McDonalds. Little did I know that I would become a McDonalds junkie, too.
Here’s why… McDonalds PlayPlace is Parentopia. It is Mecca meets Nirvana meets Starbucks. There is absolutely nothing for a parent to do at a McDonalds PlayPlace… and it’s marvelous! The play area is safe and typically enormous. The kids actually want to eat their lunch. All you have to do is lean back, keep one eye on the kids, and dine on any one of too many menu items – most of which are guilty pleasures. I could be getting a full-body massage by a babbling brook and not be as relaxed. My kids could be at a $12-for-two-hours indoor gym and not be as happy. Literally, you look around at the other parents and all you see are smiling faces partially obscured by smart phones.
Sure, they always forget the barbeque sauce for my son’s four-piece Chicken McNuggets, at least one of the toys is missing or wrong, and there are never enough napkins, but it’s air conditioned and offers free drink refills.
If you know of a more idyllic spot for parent/child bliss, I’m open to suggestions. If you want to give me a hard time about treating my kids to junk food once a month, have at it. But if you want to try to prove to me that I am wrong about McDonalds PlayPlace being Parentopia then you’re going to have a fight on your hands.