I probably hadn’t eaten at McDonald’s more than five times in the twelve years between college and my first son being old enough to take down a chicken nugget meal. I, like many Americans, had decided that McDonalds was the enemy, the prime reason for the freshman 15 I had yet to lose. I knew that all those Double Cheeseburgers, greasy French fries and oh so tasty hot fudge sundaes, had cost me way more than the dollar menu price I was dishing out for them.
When I finally started to make a paycheck equivalent to a 40 hour work week vs. the 10-15 hour a week check I was pulling off in college I decided I could exchange the McDonald’s meals for something a little classier, like Chipolte or Chili’s. McDonald’s was visited only as a last resort, for instance in Mexico when I needed a reminder that all food doesn’t come in a tortilla.
Another such last resort occurred when my son was 18 months old and our flight from Chicago to North Carolina was cancelled leaving us with eight hours to kill. After a few hours of my husband and I taking turns going to the bar while one sat at the (lifesaving) indoor park with toddler we decided to grab dinner. When looking at our selections I remembered my favorite part about McDonald’s as a child, the prize in your Happy Meal! We could grab dinner and get a toy for our son to play with as we continued our wait.
Now I know there are actually people out there that think this prize is a bad idea. People who in fact think they can actually win a lawsuit against McDonald’s for even offering this prize to children around the world. To those people I say, “get a freaking life.” The McDonald’s prize is a lifesaver, whether used to help kill time in an airport or to convince your child to eat the apples you conveniently added to his meal instead of the greasy fries. I LOVE the McDonald’s prize and hope that they never consider its departure.
Since that fateful day in Chicago when my son had his first 4-piece nugget meal things were forever changed. We now visit McDonalds at least four times a month, since I can’t seem to drive by one without the words “nuggets, nuggets, nuggets” being continually repeated in my ears. And that’s okay. Because I have noticed the changes McDonald’s has made since my broke college days and I must say they are nice. Fresh smoothies, green salads, parfaits… this is a new McDonald’s. And one I am on board for. Especially since it makes my son happier than any fancy restaurant ever could!
On a side note… after our second son was born he had to spend four weeks in the NICU at a hospital three hours from our home. Unable to afford a hotel for that period of time the Ronald McDonald House was recommended to me. Skeptical, I reserved a room for myself where occasionally my son, husband and/or mother would stay as well. There simply aren’t enough nice things to say about my experience. The facility, the staff and the volunteers all made an extremely difficult time in our lives so much easier and we could not be more appreciative. Yet another fabulous reason to go and enjoy that quarter pounder!