Sadly, we fall into the first category. I say “sadly” not because I’m wracked with guilt about the fat content, insane amounts of sodium and lack of real food value. Much.
I say “sadly” because our trip to “Old McDonalds” (as B calls it) usually dovetails with some of our less-than-stellar parenting times.
Times when we are overly busy. Rush, rush, rush, who has time to make something (from scratch) and put it on the table, then stand over the offspring like prison guards to ensure that they actually eat.
Times when we are feeling lazy. There is only so much of a person to go around. As we slice piece after piece off for housework, carpooling, changing diapers, earning money to pay for diapers… talking to family on the phone, talking to the neighbours, talking to the teachers, talking to the speech therapist, talking to that very friendly checkout lady (I’m an introvert, I like the talking, really, but it exhausts me)… reading emails, checking Facebook, watching Sliders reruns on Netflix… showering, bathing the littles, insisting that the big girls shower (and YES you have to wash your hair this time)… Pretty soon, we’re paper-thin and eager to settle for fast, relatively cheap and, above all, easy.
Times when we eat our emotions. We celebrate with food: got a bonus at work, a perfect mark on your science report, a birthday… We medicate with food: not invited to the party, playing single parent for the weekend, realized the your 8-year-old is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER going to be potty trained… Whoever named it a “Happy Meal” must have felt the same. It’s not a habit that has served ME well over the years. Yet, here I am passing it on to my children.
Times when I am feeling rebellious. I wasn’t raised like this. My Mom fed me nuts and twigs and all manner of healthy crap. We rarely ate out and NEVER had white bread or processed foods or anything with “whiz” or “a-roni” tacked on the end. She once told me that hot dogs were made with pencil shavings, sawdust and whatever else they could sweep off the floor at the end of the day. She was probably right. But I eat them anyway. Not all the time, but occasionally. Because I can. And no one can stop me.
We’re not the only ones. That indoor playground at our local Mickey Ds is often filled to capacity. And beyond. Shell shocked dads, doting grandparents, exhausted nannies, and guilty moms practice McParenting in all its many forms:
The McSanitizer: It’s true that the play structures are a giant, plastic petri dish full of germs and disease. To fight it off these twitchy parents scrub each surface with antibacterial wipes, line them with napkins, pull out extra pairs of socks et voila – instant McHazmat suit. A vigorous rub down in hand sanitizer is a necessary final step for decontamination.
The McWeary: This parent has surrendered. “Just eat something, anything…” I saw one dad pushing fries through the play centre netting into his sons mouth each time he crawled by. I can relate. “Mom, B just ate something she found at the top of the slide.” Try NOT to think about it. It was probably edible. “Can I borrow some hand sanitizer?”
The McThug: See no evil. Hear no evil. Or just chuckle about it and shrug your shoulders, like, “hey, whatcha-gonna-do? Sure my preteen just dropkicked your toddler across the room, but gee, isn’t he cute?” See how cute it is when I push YOU to the ground and step on YOUR face.
The McRockwellian: “No playing until you eat ALL your fries. I mean it young man, that milk…er…dairy-related-substance-shake isn’t going to drink itself. Let’s enjoy some meaningful family time.” Who are we kidding? Unless we recently installed a climbing apparatus in the dining room and invited every preschooler we’ve ever met over to give it a spin, this is NOT the family table.
It is what it is. Not that clean, not that healthy, not that safe and not all that family friendly. BUT the world isn’t either. Not even with bean sprouts and quinoa on the menu.
We all have to live in this dirty, imperfect, not-always-good-for-us world. So, if that same world OCCASIONALLY brings some reasonably priced, convenient, keeps-the-kids-out-of-my-hair-for-a-few-minutes food my way, I’m not going to feel guilty. Much.
Moderation in all things.
So here’s me, and maybe it makes me a total McCop-Out, but I think our family can handle a once a month McSplurge.