Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adventures in parenting: McNuggets, hand dryers and adobe murals

I was making the long drive home with the kiddos last night and heard the dreaded words: “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom, hurry!”

I knew there was a really big McDonalds right by the freeway entrance I was about to enter, so turned the other way toward the inviting golden arches. I was greeted by the sweet smell of greasy, fried burger meat wafting through the sloped, hillside parking lot. It reminded me of the old-school smell of all burger joints from back in the 80s, so immediately knew I was in for a Twilight-Zone-style treat.

My boy was carried in one arm while I held my little girl’s hand and we entered: THE GRANDEST McDONALDS EVER. It was huge, a massive spectacle to behold … and it looked like a Mexican restaurant inside. From the outside, the MassDonalds looks like it is two stories, and it is, I just don’t know if there are upstairs dining tables. Anyway, this McDeez is near the historic Mission San Jose, so the décor is all Southwestern looking, as if I had just walked into a mom and pop joint in New Mexico. There were Mexican-style murals of the Mission painted on the wall, complete with a prayer to the Sacred Virgin Mary. Nice.

Best of all, near where you order, there is this giant open area, like an indoor patio with this huge brick/adobe waterfall structure – how soothing it must be to enjoy processed chicken McNuggets to the sounds of running water.

So, the bathroom, you ask? Clean, private and large. Thank goodness. My girl protested going into the men’s room with me and the boy, but there was no other option. Thankfully, the bathroom was empty and the only toilet stall was this massive, private fortress fortified by real walls on all sides. I held my son and retreated to the corner to stare at the tiled wall to give my little princess her privacy. I marveled at the size and strength of this stall - I’m sure you could survive a nuclear blast in the confines of this luxurious latrine.

My daughter finished, pulled up her pants and decided to start dancing to the pleasant elevator music playing on the muzak system. She claimed she couldn’t button her pants because she was “too busy dancing.” It was very cute, watching her shake her groove thing with one hand trying to button pants, in the middle of the stall, in a bathroom, inside THE GRANDEST McDONALDS EVER.

I took her to wash her hands and she was horrified by the hand dryers. She protested, but I explained there was no paper towel option. She braved it and dried away bravely until she couldn’t take the heat. With that, we were on out when she melted my heart with a very formal gesture of gratitude: she looked at me and said “Thanks, father.”

Someday I’ll reward my little treasures for being such troopers through the whole ordeal. We’ll come back to THE GRANDEST McDONALDS EVER not as loiterers, but as conquering heroes with cash for food and a camera for that awesome waterfall.