Today I took Noah out for his first McDonald’s. Here are 10 things that I learnt:
- If you are walking or relying on public transport, a lunchtime McDonald’s is better than a 4 o’clock one. 4pm is the start of Noah’s witching hour (or three), the time when all of his inner demons surface at once. I should always be home by this time, but, somehow, I never learn.
- The main appeal of a Happy Meal is the toy. The toy should come inside the box with the food. If the toy is waved in front of the child’s nose by the (un)helpful serving lady before you have even got to the counter to order, then the food has no real appeal.
- Think about the reasons you have decided to go to McDonald’s. Does your child like fast food? Does your child desperately need another piece of tat (i.e. the toy) to take home? Do you yourself enjoy McDonalds? If the answer to these questions is no and the only reason you wanted to go to McDonalds in the first place was to get a strawberry milkshake which you haven’t had for about five years but now desperately need, I suggest you find somewhere else that sells milkshakes and go there instead. This is what happened when I attempted to order a strawberry milkshake:
Me: Can I have a strawberry milkshake, please?
Serving Lady: Eh?
Me: A strawberry milkshake, bitte?
Serving Lady: Milk? No. Fanta? Coke?
Me: Coke light, please, bitte.
- If you order ketchup because you know your child won’t even contemplate the idea of eating chips without ketchup, make sure the ketchup is given to you before you go and sit down and lay all the food out. When we finally found a seat in a far corner of the restaurant, I opened Noah’s box of nuggets up, tipped some chips in and then discovered there was no ketchup. “Where’s my ketchup?” Noah asked. “They don’t have ketchup,” I replied. A fist full of chips was thrown on the floor along with “I want ketchup!” I had to leave the food out, willing that no one come and clear it up, take Noah and his scooter to the counter, queue up, ask for ketchup, get charged 30 cents for ketchup which I surely must have just paid for 5 minutes ago, and then return to the table to face a now freezing cold chicken burger.
- If there is the choice of sitting in a hard and uncomfortable booth, or some large comfy-looking bucket chairs, go for the booth. The bucket chairs are big, therefore optimise the opportunity for lounging and reduce the opportunity for eating. They are also screwed to the ground, making it uncomfortable if you need to keep leaning over to force feed your child unhealthy food.
- Even if you took your child to the toilet mere seconds before ordering the food, he will need to go again before the meal is over…in fact, before the meal has really been started. After Noah had eaten one chicken nugget and two chips, he lay across the chair and casually told me he needed a poo. “Are you sure?” I demanded, shoving my chicken sandwich in my mouth as quickly as I could, because there was no way I was taking it to the toilet with me. I sniffed the air: Noah smelt like he needed a poo. I picked up Noah’s food and attempted to put it back in the box with minimal loss of ketchup. I then headed to the toilets. Half way there he had changed his mind about the poo and wanted to go home instead. I found another table and unpacked his food again, telling him we weren’t going home until he had finished his dinner (because there was no way in hell I was going home to cook him another meal after this experience). Five minutes later (i.e. half a chicken nugget and five chips later) he needed a poo again. I repacked the food, took him to the toilets, sat him down and waited. He didn’t do a poo.
- Listen to your child when asking him whether he wants chicken nuggets or a cheeseburger. If your three year old is anything like mine, he will know his own mind with 100% confidence. If the boy asks for a cheeseburger, get him a bloody cheeseburger.
- Don’t promise your child ice-cream before you get your facts straight. Seeing as I had failed to get my milkshake, I decided a McFlurry would more than make up for it. I coaxed Noah into eating his Happy Meal with the promise of an ice-cream afterwards. I have actually given up chocolate but I decided the pieces of chocolate in McFlurries are too small to actually count as chocolate. After the failure to communicate my desire for a strawberry milkshake at the counter, I decided to opt for the self-service ordering machine for our desserts. I put my card in the machine. I selected the English option. I selected desserts. I selected a Kit Kat McFlurry. I was told it was not possible because the grill was in use. Not to be deterred by such a random obstacle, I selected a Smarties McFlurry instead. Again, not possible because the grill was in use. I dragged Noah to the counter. “McFlurry?” I asked pointing to the blatant McFlurry machine. “No,” the woman said, and turned to the next customer. I was now left with the task of finding Noah his promised ice-cream. Four shops later, he got one.
- If you are relying on walking or public transport, check the weather. If that is too organised for you to manage, always carry the umbrella you got for Christmas in your mummy bag with you. What do you mean, you don’t know where it is?
- Don’t expect your child to be grateful for this outing. After we had got soaked waiting for the bus, then had an incident getting off the bus because Noah had lost one of his shoes, and I was then dragging Noah home on the scooter in the pouring rain, he announced: “Mummy, this is a DISASTER!”
Any time, my Noah. And, actually, comparing this outing to some of our other adventures (E.g. The Adventure of the Prater on the Boiling Hot Afternoon, The Adventure of the Eurovision Village and the Balloon, The Adventure at Zoom Ocean), it wasn’t a disaster at all.