A Date with Dad

Do you ever feel sorta terrible about taking your children to McDonalds?

I don't know why . . . wait . . .  that's not true, I know exactly why. You feel sorta terrible, cause you know its not the very best you could do.

That's it.

There are all kinds of nutritious and delicious meals just waiting for the both of you back in the fridge. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein.


And you know if your child walked up to you with a jar filled with sodium nitrate and high fructose corn syrup you would immediately take it out of his hand, throw it in the trash, and cut him up some apples.

But you're in the car about to be running a whole bunch of errands and you realize that, well, it's at least an hour passed a reasonable lunch time and the both of your are hungry, so you say something ridiculous like "Hey, what do you want for lunch?"

It's ridiculous cause you already know the answer.


What other answer is there?


Now there are all kinds of environmental, socio-economic, and heart disease related issues why you should be boycotting McDonalds, but frankly, double quarter pounders are delicious to me. And fries are delicious to me. And Coke is delicious to me.

Also, I happen to be in the weirdly enviable position of having to figure out novel ways of getting 1400 calories a day into a child who is super active and weighs about as much as a paper clip necklace.

And really, my job as a parent is just to try raise them to be healthy, happy, and with a reasonable dislike of Nickelback and Maroon 5.

So hell yeah. McDonalds it is, son.

Now one of the more interesting traits of raising obsessive children is that their thread of conscience is nearly unbreakable.

And the theme for this week is the Rubik's Cube.

This was touched on a little bit before during Superbowl Weekend when solving the puzzle was the most important thing ever, but he's taken it up again, and this time wants not only to learn how to solve it, but how to speed solve it, and he is not going to let that go for a very long time.

I gotta figure out how to channel that energy into piano lessons.

Anyway, we walked into our local McDonalds, him not taking his eye off his cube and me trying to explain to an eight year old what an algorithm is.

Now I have two very specific rules when going to restaurants.

Number One: Tip at least 20% even if the service was terrible (especially if the service was terrible. You might just make someone's day better)

Number Two: Never ask your child what he wants when you're at the front of the line. Know ahead of time or you lose your turn. I would like to see this become law. Especially if the penalties included caning.

What do you want?

Double cheese burger is the one I like. Plain.



What do you want to drink?

I want to pick out my own.

What do you want?



All of this can occur before you even get in line. I promise you, it is greatest common courtesy ever.

The family in front of us had clearly no idea that the law I just made up had taken effect already. A mom, two boys and a guy who looked old enough to be grandpa, but just young enough to be a possible OK Cupid date going horribly wrong.

There was a lot of denim and a lot of tattoos and I probably wouldn't have even noticed them at all had it not been for the fact that none of them could decide what they wanted and everything had to be repeated three times because there seemed to be quite the language barrier between the faux southern drawl they were using and the rudimentary spanish the register girl was using.

And don't get me wrong, I only tease because there seems to be a very established "Country" community out here, which I find really odd since we're less than an hour and a half from San Francisco's Castro district.

And since I'm Californian through and through, it is far more ridiculous that I don't speak Spanish fluently than it is for our register girl to have a less than complete vocabulary in Queen's English.

I'm not being all judgee, I'm just setting the scene.

So we all waited for the "family" to finish their order.

Then it was our turn and we ordered our food.

I only had to repeat myself once.

We sat down and as the "country" girl passed us, she sorta stopped and looked at the two of us, rolled her eyes a little and walked on by.

Which, wait, what?

Wasn't I just rolling my eyes at you for backing up the line, cause really, who walks into a McDonald's not knowing exactly what they want?

But I could instantly tell what she was thinking.

You don't see a neatly quaffed man and his son, trying to solve Rubik's Cubes and discussing algorithms at your local McDonald's very often.

She was probably wondering why we weren't at Trader Joe's picking up ingredients for sushi. And the answer to that is because it wasn't Thursday.

And worst, she probably thought I was one of those weekend dads. Disneyland Dad. The "I only get to see him every other Sunday so I'm taking him to McDonalds so he'll think I'm cool." Dad.

She herself had at least two boys and no rings on her fingers, so I could only assume she knew THAT dad pretty well, and kinda hated him.

I noticed I do get that look every so often when I'm out on the town with my little guy. A father/son date is somewhat of a rarity I guess, especially in the neatly quaffed nuclear family suburbs. Either we are Ward Cleaver or Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs Kramer.

But, and I hope to be quite a pioneer myself, the "Stay at Home Dad" is really starting to gain some serious traction. A good quarter of the regular parents that line up to pick up their children are dudes. Unheard of half a generation before.

I was mulling this when I was informed by my diminutive date that we needed to get more fries because I apparently had eaten them all.

Other things we discussed were how cool it would be to participate in a Rubik's Cube Tournament and how he didn't want a happy meal because he is no longer a kid.

We finished our food, ran our errands and headed home.

Five miles from the house "Moves like Jagger" came on the radio and I immediately switched it to something else.

"Awww" said a mousey voice from the back seat.


You didn't have to turn it.


You didn't have to turn it.

Do you like that song?


Kay. Well . . .  at least you're healthy and happy.

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