Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday at the McDonald's Playland

When Zane has a reasonably good day at daycare(meaning that he didn't hit anyone), we will stop at "HAPPY MEAL PLACE". We don't know why Zane calls McDonald's the "HAPPY MEAL PLACE", but we roll with it. When we get to the local Mickey D's, the line at the drive thru is humongous. Crap.

"Well, I guess we could just go in," I said. Larry looked at me as if I was a pod person. I looked right back at him and repeated myself.

"Are you sure?" Larry asks. We are always hesitant to take Zane places because of the unpredictability of his behavior, mostly just because we are just too tired to deal with it. But really, the only way that a child learns how to behave in public is by being in public. So we maneuvered the car through the maze of the line through the drive-thru and parked the car.

I told Larry to take Zane to the play area while I got the food. Zane didn't want to go to the play area, and he had a small fit in the line while we waited, which included the usual throwing of the self on the ground. I think I did a good job of ignoring him while he did that. Larry was finally able to get Zane to the play area after I handed him his HAPPY MEAL, but I think it cost him some dollar amount to be named later. I got the food(this is the slowest McDonald's on the planet, I am pretty sure), and took it into the play area.

Zane and Larry were sitting at two different tables, because apparently Zane was feeling independent. Zane was eating, I sat down. There were a lot of other kids running around and playing on the playscape or whatever it is called. I noticed that most of the children were not actually eating anything, but that's probably true of most 'child-friendly' places. I bit into my hamburger, when a kid of about eight ran by, hollering at the top of his lungs.


I spit out my bit of hamburger and guffawed. Larry snickered. Anyone but Jimmy Cagney uttering those words and you just have to at least chuckle quietly. I think that is a federal law or something, at least until the Supreme Court makes a decision.

Suddenly Zane decided he wanted to play, but he wasn't finished eating. He wanted to take his food and his drink with him to play. I referred him to the rules, which included a statement indicating that food was not allowed in the play area. Zane disagreed vehemently with this, and again threw himself down on the ground after Larry took the drink and HAPPY MEAL box away. I repeated the rule.

"Want Ketchup," Zane said, in a classic attempt at distraction. He jumped up and raced for the door separating the play area from the actual dining area. He was wedged in the door by the time Larry finally caught up with him. When Larry freed him, Zane zigzagged through the legs of the many people waiting in line and ran up to the counter. He banged his hand twice on the counter.

"Want ketchup," he said. Everyone waiting in line laughed, luckily. Larry helped Zane get his ketchup and brought him back to the table. Thus sustained by the appearance of ketchup, Zane finished his meal and ran to play. Larry was with him at first. I noticed that Zane kept wanting to climb up the slide, and Larry was determined that Zane not do this. He was afraid that Zane would get hurt by the bigger children. Zane was not interested in listening to his daddy, and a small meltdown ensued.

I got Larry to tag me in, and I figured that natural consequences would be the best way to get Zane to understand that he would be happier going down the slide instead of up the slide. So I let Zane go up the slide, knowing that there were about ten kids, all bigger than him, about to come rolling down the slide. I thought that all it would take would be one time of getting bowled over by another kid, and Zane would not be so interested.

Zane climbed up. I waited. No Zane. No anybody, actually. WTH??? Finally, Zane came down, followed by every single one of the bigger kids. WTH??? Those bigger kids, some of them as old at ten, waited for my son, a two-year-old, to go down the slide. I was amazed, and not sorry that my original expectation was incorrect. Kids surprise you sometimes.

But it was time to go. We had to bribe Zane with cookies to get him out of McDonald's, but it was worth it to get him out to the car. For those who would say, "Sayyyy--weren't you the only 'behavior specialist' your district had for years? Didn't you create almost all of the behavior forms currently in use in your district today? And you're saying that you bribed your own child? Isn't that in direct violation of every book on behavior ever written?"

To those people, I would challenge them to 'babysit' Zane for a couple of hours. Then we will talk.

1 comment:

  1. yup, a true behavior specialist knows when bribe is needed. You go girl!


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