Can someone please help me please? 

It’s been a semi-stressful week. We started the week with two sleepless nights, a screaming baby, and as it turns out, a rather nasty ear infection for him. So he’s uber-cranky. Plus, my Mom’s been in the hospital all week, with terms like “bone marrow,” “abnormality,” “trans-esophageal blah blah blah” being thrown around, and we’ve all just about had it up to here with terminology and what-ifs. It is TIME FOR A VACATION! TO SOMEWHERE FABULOUS!

In addition, my birthday is tomorrow and about the last thing I feel like doing is celebrating anything, much less aging

Anyway, it was with great pleasure yesterday that I got to go pick up nephew Luke from school. He’s so much fun, and I really love hanging out with him and his brothers. When I picked him up, it was time for lunch, and I told him that I would take him anywhere he wanted to go. Absolutely anywhere. He looked semi-stumped. I tossed out a few suggestions: “Um. Pizza?  Hamburgers? Pei Wei?”  Silence in the car.  Finally, my trump card. “McDonald’s????”

“OOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!!! YESSSSS!!!!!!!!” he gasps. Yes! McDonald’s it is! I decide that despite the fact that I am dressed up and feeling semi-Mommy-sassy, McDonald’s is what will make his little child heart super happy and thus, I could probably use some Chicken McNuggets and french fries. I deserve it. Right?

McDonald’s it is. I told him that we would even go inside and sit down. Like this makes it a real restaurant. He looks up sharply. “Wait. Did you say that we would go inside?” This is magical and mystical to a 5-year-old, I can tell. “We have never gone inside before,” he breathes with great feeling. This is really going to make his day.

Come to think of it, I don’t know that I have ever gone inside either. At least, not since I was little. 

So we arrive. Jude has been in a semi-funk until Luke gets in the car with us, which is not unusual for the week. Tantrums have been the norm all week, building up over the past few days. All is rosy and smiles now that Luke is with us, though. We arrive at McD’s, and we go inside. Luke is ecstatic and it’s Happy Meals all the way around. I sit Luke and Jude down at a table while I go to get our Happy Meals; I had just delivered our 3 drinks to the table. As I turn around our tray of fried goodness death  processed food, I see Luke with a wide-eyed expression on his face. Jude has crawled up onto the table, out of the high chair and is making his way towards the drinks. I manage to fly to the table in just the nick of time, before he topples over our drinks into a sticky mess. Crisis briefly averted. Back he goes into the high chair.

At this moment, one of Luke’s friends from school and his mother enter the building. Luke is thrilled that not only are we inside, sitting down, but now one of his friends is here as well. Life is good! They chatter back and forth between our tables. The mother and I smile. I tug on my dress nervously. We sit and begin gnoshing on the chicken nuggets.

At first, all is well. To be honest, I’m almost semi-embarrassed to be caught eating chicken nuggets. I mean, isn’t that just so not PC these days? I’ve seen Super Size Me.  Am I not an educated person on the dangers of processed, fried food? And here I am, feeding my child and nephew non-real-food. And to be fair, this happens way more often than I care to admit. Mother guilt ensues. (But man those fries taste good!)

And then somewhere along the way while we are happy stuffing ourselves full of Coke & salty death goodness, the stars align in such a way and a black cloud arrives over Jude’s head. Something is not right. He is angry and nothing. I. do. will. make. it. RIGHT!! Chicken Nugget #1 of 4 is launched in an angry squeal. I begin to scurry to see what I can do to assuage the anger. No, he does not want a drink. No, he does not want a French fry. No, he does not want another Nugget. #2 of 4 is launched. I try to act calm, cool, and collected. Ignoring it will help, I think to myself.

Luke is wide-eyed. The friend is staring. The mother of the friend appears to not want to make eye contact. #3 of 4 slaps my foot as it bounces to the floor.  Now other children are staring at us as the restaurant is full. Jude begins beating on the table with his palms. I try to give him a little empty ketchup holder. This is not what he wants. He wants to SQUISH the ketchup in his little chubby hands. Now he is SOBBING uncontrollably and we are attracting a crowd. 

“Luke,” I say sweetly, “Why don’t we pack it up and get in the car.” He nods his curly head sagely. In his 5-year-old wisdom, he knows that this is only going to continue to head downward. So I scramble to pack up our trash, get Jude out of his high chair before his head starts spinning and ketchup smatters the windows, and before I can turn around, he’s headed out the door.

Can you picture me? Running in my dress and sandals, Happy Meals in hand, trying to keep my head from spinning and Ugly Mommy from making an appearance? Because I am so there. As I march to the car, trying to pull every last vestige of cool together, I tell Jude that he is naughty and he is going straight to bed the moment we get home. And he did. And Luke and I cooled off by hanging out in the backyard and playing ball.

::sigh::: So if you find my shattered remnants of sanity, would you please let me know? Last I  saw it, it was somewhere between ordering Happy Meals and getting our drinks. But who knows really at this point.