I spent a couple hours one-on-one with my almost-5-year old daughter, Child C. I can't believe she is almost 5! It was a fun and lovely time. Her giggle is contagious and I smiled so much my cheeks ache. Her facial expressions make me laugh from my belly. I love those moments.
What I don't love are some of the things that I observed in the play place at our local McDonald's. In sharing these observations, please understand that I am not judging anyone. I am intrigued and concerned. If you can shed light on any of these scenarios by commenting, please do. I'd love to have a better understanding or your opinion.
Observation #1: Men who sit alone or with a male friend in the play place area.
Not that I spent a lot of time in the play place area, but in the 10-1/2 years that I have been there a couple or few times a year, I don't think I have ever observed a woman sitting alone or in a group of women where none of them had a child with them. If I had, this would apply to them, too. Why do men sit in the play place seating area (eating or not) when there are several children playing, it's loud, and there are plenty of seats available in the other part of the restaurant? It's not as if this is a quieter place to sit, because it isn't. So, why?
Observation #2: People who talk on their cell phone in the play place area.
OK, if you have children who are playing, I understand that you wouldn't leave them unattended to take or make a call. But this isn't a quiet place to be on the phone, which means you have to speak louder and many people will hear your call - including children. Why wouldn't you keep it to, "Hey, I'm at Mickey D's with the kids, can I call you back when it's quieter?" This evening, this took place with someone who also fell into my Observation #1. Unfortunately, this man also was using profanity in about every third sentence. I did gently approach him (just as I would a child, because I was intimidated to confront him based on his language) and he agreed to be more careful with his language. But, should one really need to be approached about such a thing in a play place?
Observation #3: People who eat their food in the play place area, but then go sit in the other part of the restaurant when finished eating.
This just baffles me. Why would you choose to eat your food in a closed off room where kids may have been coughing and sneezing, running around all the tables and wiping their hands on all the chairs? Why would you want to eat where the kid music is blaring and the shrieking is so loud that you can't hear the music or understand the kids? If you don't have kids with you, I just don't understand this one. And see Observation #4 for why you might want to reconsider and sit at a table that is more likely be clean, because just because it looks clean, doesn't mean it is clean. By the way, Profanity Guy from Observation #2, fell into this observation as well. Of course, he wasn't on the phone once he left the play place.
Observation #4: Parents who don't supervise their children in the play place area.
Don't all parents look forward to the moment when they can turn their kids loose and let them be kids without having to watch every move they make? I know I do. I have a daughter with a lot of energy. She was so exhausting when she was a toddler and up until the age of 6 or so. I couldn't wait for a moment when someone else could watch her or when I didn't have to keep reeling her back in. So, I understand how when those play place doors close, some parents sort of shut their kids out of their minds. I've done that. But I always kept one eye open. Maybe because I'm paranoid that something will happen - someone will get hurt or someone will disappear. So, help me understand how a mom with an older boy (around 11-13) and a younger boy (2 or3) would not notice or care when the younger boy was pushing repeatedly on the emergency exit door. You know, the one with the alarm? What about when he started playing with the fire alarm on the wall by the door? If it hadn't been for my gasp, to which the mom still didn't turn around to see about what someone was gasping, I am sure he would've pulled that alarm and playtime would've been over for everyone until the fire department came to turn the alarm off. And finally, how do you not notice or care when your younger boy is climbing on several tables, crawling and walking around on the tables with his shoes on, and jumping from one table to the next? Isn't the play place sufficient to meet the climbing needs of a child? OK, maybe your child doesn't like confined spaces, but then perhaps he should wear a coat and be taken to a park. Maybe the older boy was supposed to be watching the younger one. I don't know. Maybe there is an explanation that I am overlooking, so please help me understand what may have been going on here other than the obvious assumptions.
Am I alone in "things that make you go hmmm" at McDonald's (and I'm not talking about the food)? What can you share?