Help Me Change the World One Playplace at a Time

We are experiencing the worst winter since I have lived up here in the Chicagoland area.  It is insanely cold and windy and snowy.

I'm not a big winter fan in general, being from Florida and all, but I try to embrace it and find those days when there is enough snow to sled on but the wind isn't so cold that your nose will turn black and fall off.  I'm pretty sure that happens.

This winter, however, we haven't had any of those.  I did take the kids out sledding once but the snow was so thick that the sleds just sank into it and wouldn't budge.  We had 10 minutes of snow angels and burying ourselves, two minutes of Bunny throwing snow in Pip's face repeatedly while he was buried in the snow, three minutes of Pip crying and screaming, and then we were back inside the condo - just as frustrated as before but now missing one nice snow glove that was dropped during the tantrum and is now buried in the snow.  I'm hoping to find it during the thaw (which will most likely happen sometime around the 4th of July.)

Every year, we get a little stir crazy.  We become restless.  We need an escape.

And every year we have at least one day during which I become so desperate that I take them to a McDonald's Playplace as an outlet to release some pent-up energy.

And every year I regret it.

Early in my blogging career (about a year's not been a very long career thus far) I wrote the piece below about what I expect from you at a McDonald's Playplace.  It is as timely now as it was then.  I hope you'll give it a read and consider joining me in my crusade.  We can do better, people.  Let's do it for the children.


Look at the fear in those eyes.

Look at the fear in those eyes.


What I expect from you at a McDonald's Playplace

So, on day four of this past long weekend, I took my children to the McDonald's Playplace because, you know, otherwise I'd have to play Chutes and Ladders again.

Also, they inexplicably love the germ-infested, greasy, primary colored plastic tubes that you just KNOW no adult has ever climbed into with some disinfectant EVER.  It's the perfect place for my immune-suppressed preschooler during cold and flu season.  Perfect.

And just in case he doesn't put his fingers immediately into his eyes after crawling through some strange child's snot, I can buy him some high fructose corn syrup-laden non-meat to eat so we can make sure to transfer that bacteria to where it can reach its full potential.

But, still, they stopped whining and I got to sit around at a dirty table and scribble this blog entry into a spiral notebook.  So that's awesome.

As I sat there in that bizarre echo-chamber writing this blog, I couldn't help but wish we could all get on the same page about some public parenting basics.

Here's what I expect from you at a McDonald's Playplace:

1) If your kid is hacking or dripping, keep him at home.  If I even have to tell you that, you suck ass.

2) I recognize that playing in that crusty-ass crawling thing is noisy business.  I get it.  I want the kids to have fun.  But if your child is screeching at the top of his lungs, for sport, loudly enough that one of my children begins to cry, you need to shut that little heathen up by any means necessary.  Your child should also not pound repeatedly on the plastic windows of that germ-jail.  It's OK to expect children to be respectful of the experience of others EVEN in McDonalds.  It doesn't have to be Lord of the Flies in there.
And even if you DO want to pretend it's Lord of the Flies in there, I'll play along.  But let's just assume I have the conch, OK?  Rocks are about to be thrown.

3) The play area has red tile on the floor.  The eating area has tan tile.  The eating area is for eating.  The play area is for playing.  The blue dog is up.  The yellow dog is down.  This isn't brain surgery.  If your child plays chase around my table as I am trying to eat with my family, I'll trip him.  I will.  The tan tile is hard.  You've been warned.

4) If your child is in that nasty phlegm-coated human habitrail and is wailing and sobbing in despair, somebody related to him oughta get up.  Did you see me get up and locate both my children when it started?  Yeah.  I did that.  Even though it didn't sound like a cry my children make, I checked anyway.  Just in case.  Because that's what the human animals do when caring for their young.  As do wildebeests, apparently.  So could you at least parent as well as the average wildebeest?  Is that too much to ask?  If you need pointers, The Discovery Channel is on basic cable.

5) Finally...and if we can agree on nothing else, let us agree on this...diaper changes don't happen on tables where people eat.  Because OH MY GOD PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME ELABORATE.

I think we can come together on this and make the world a better place - one Playplace at a time.


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