Happy Meals: how happy ARE they?
Both my daughters are playing AAA (state-level) soccer this year, and I’ve driven 45 minutes north of home 4 times in the past 24 hours, for a tournament they’re both playing in. Today as we watched a game, a team mom I’ve been friends with for many years walked up and started unloading a Wendy’s bag.
I laughed in delight seeing these tiny little cups of milkshakes, about as tall as an adult finger. All her children and nieces she’d brought with her started to eat the tiny milkshakes. Not yet realizing my huge faux pas, I said, “How cute! I didn’t know they made milkshakes so tiny!”
The mothers probably thought they were being subtle. They looked at each other, kinda smirking. They were probably hoping I didn’t notice the unmistakable message in the glance they shot at each other. The glance said: “IS SHE FOR REAL?!”
(Reminds me of when, years ago, I went to Super Saturday, a crafting event put on by my church. I’d never been before, since I don’t “do” crafts. I was walking around chatting, and I saw this basket of waxy-looking cylindrical-shaped things and said, “Weird! What are those clear crayons for?!” I saw that SAME LOOK on the women’s faces, and one of them said, slowly, as if speaking to a very young child, “Robyn, those are GLUE STICKS.” Right. For the glue gun. Something every person with an X chromosome knows. Except me.)
Back to the story of the very tiny milkshakes. Melissa said (other mothers listening, highly entertained), “Uh, Robyn, these come with kids’ meals.”
I realized that I’d accidentally exposed my family’s ugly little secret: my kids have never eaten a fast-food kids’ meal. Ever. No Happy Meal.
Can you be a happy kid, without a Happy Meal?
This is my question for you today. It’s deep, I know.
I didn’t even realize that my kids were kinda-sorta un-American until I heard the explosive reaction from my 15-year old son’s friends last year as he told them, “I’ve never eaten at McDonald’s.” They refused to believe him. I’ve written before on this blog that I’m highly offended at that allegation, since I’ve taken my kids to McDonald’s plenty of times! (They have the cleanest bathrooms, when you’re on a road trip.)
I’m not saying this to brag or be elitist or separatist. I’m just saying that if you NEVER GO to a fast-food restaurant to buy a lot of sugar and trans fats and other garbage to spike the kids’ blood sugar and insulin and clog their arteries . . . well, then you never get addicted to that convenience. It can be done. Honestly, I’ve just never THOUGHT to buy a Happy Meal.
It’s not that I’ve never failed to plan and been out and had to pinch hit. It’s just that there really are better options. Subway, with a veggie sandwich on wheat, for instance (get them to really load it up with extra bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers). I’m sure you have other ideas for when you’re out and about, or you could come up with them if you quit considering “Happy Meals” as an option.
I think my next book is going to be 101 Ideas for Eating Healthy While Traveling. (I know, it’s not grammatically perfect–Healthy is an adjective and I need an adverb, but Healthily is so awkward. Help me with a better title.)
Anyway, please share with mothers of babies that if you never go the first time, you won’t get addicted to drive-thru convenience.