Thursday, July 10, 2014

Like a cat stuck in a tree: Why play places are a bad idea

    As soon as I saw the commercial I cringed inwardly, Mario and his cohorts racing merrily, a McDonalds sign emblazoned in the background. My older boys have been on a big video game kick, their favorite being anything to do with that little Italian plummer. The minute the commercial aired they we're nagging, "Can we go to McDonald?! Can we get a happy meal?" We make the trip to McDonalds only a couple of times a year. Usually only when the toy being offered is so alluring that even I cannot deny a trip will be inevitable. Like the Halloween buckets or in the case of today a Mario riding a go cart combining two if their greatest joys video games and hot wheels.
    McDonalds is not a treat we have often in our house for the obvious junk food related reasons of course but also a few sub-reasons. Number one: For the price you pay for three happy meals and whatever I decide to order you can easily go to the store prepare your own hamburgers and take everyone to Dollar Tree and pick out a toy that will be enjoyed for the same amount of time. Number two: The play place has become a place of dread for me. Ever since Cody at three years old got stuck inside,was to scared to go down the slide and I had to recruit a set of responsible looking nine year olds to retrieve him I have not looked at it the same way. Then finally and most importantly Number three: You never know which Cullen you are going to get. He could be happy and sweet, play happily in the play place eat all his food and leave without a fuss. Or you could get the hostile Cullen. The one who refuses to eat a bite of food and throws his toy at you and then trees himself in the playhouse and refuses to come down as he did today.
   We started out good, he played nice but when it was time for him to come out and eat he was reluctant to leave. I finally lured him out and he ate all his food and then went back to the playhouse. The play place at the McDonalds in our town is fairly unique. It looks like a giant treehouse, with the ladder part being a tree trunk and a little sitband observation area being the top of the tree. Then there is a treehouse connected to it and a curvy slide to get down again. Cullen decided to camp out in the top of the tree and would not move. When it was time to go I called for him and he would not move, then I told his brothers to retrieve him and he kicked and screamed so violently they were forced to abandon their efforts. I tried to intervene and call out all manner if tempting things to him. "Cullen get ice cream!" "No! Ice cream-ah" he responded back. "Cullen mommy buy new bubbles!" "Bubbles! I not Bubbles! Play! Stay!" "Cullen we got to go! Please!" "Go! I no! Bubbles! Ice cream! No no!" We argued back and forth for a while. I was debating climbing inside to get him but the inside if the tree was narrow and twisting and obviously not meant for an adult. I could just see the headlines: "Local Chubby woman stuck inside McDonald s play place" how embarrassing would it be to have a bunch of firemen have to extract you from a plastic tree?
  My husband however being a man of action decided he would chance being stuck in a tree like Winnie the Pooh and climbed inside and extracted a very upset Cullen. He was screaming and kicking and the whole (yet thankfully small) population if the McDonalds play place were staring at us. A mixture of confusion and pity etched on their faces.
    So I have added McDonald to the list of places I am afraid to go to with him. On the list already is the laundromat, Chuck E Cheese and any and all shops that sell expensive glass doodads.