Except for some rather unfortunate cravings when I was pregnant with the boys that left me tracking down Taco Bells all over the city whilst Jason turned a blind, albeit slightly judgmental, eye, we have never been a fast food family. Not even when we were young newlyweds. It’s just never been our thing. And up until last Sunday our kids hadn’t even heard of McDonald’s. If pressed, we would be sort of
smug proud of that fact. But alas, our great run is over. Now they know. They know about the happy meals and the toys and the unlimited ketchup and the play area. But let’s back up so I can tell you how we ended up there, Jason and I despondent with shame while the boys dashed about delighted and happy and chock-full of GMOs.
We decided to go camping last Friday. After 3 births in 10 days, culminating in a looong labor (love you, Nico!), I took a day to recoup and then we hit the road. Our first campout of the year — Lake Wenatchee, here we come! The boys were pumped and Jason and I were feeling cautiously optimistic. Last year’s camping trips had gone mostly well and we were all eager to get back out there. We found an incredible site at Nason Creek. Check it out…
We had such a great weekend. The weather was sunny but not too hot. Incredible scenery. And the boys were so happy to be out there. We took them horseback riding in the woods on Friday afternoon. The shared-saddle situation was not the most comfortable but an entire hour holding the boys close was fine by us.
Saturday morning we went on a hike and then hit the beach at Lake Wenatchee. We got ice cream cones at the general store and sat in the sand for a while before heading back to our campsite for “nap” time.
Later in the afternoon we rented a row boat for $5 and enjoyed the views from out on the lake.
And we wrapped up the day with dinner and s’mores back at the campground. A truly incredible weekend. There was one time-out for Isaiah on Sunday morning (see below) but he recovered quickly and worked on his driving while Jason and I took down the tent and gear and packed up to come home.
So how did we end up completely beside ourselves in the parking lot of a McDonald’s, you ask? After such a wonderful weekend with Jason and I congratulating ourselves on a job well done, pinching ourselves because it was all so easy? There’s really only one direction to go after all that pride, folks. It went like this…
Jason and I had just finished reorganizing our gear, taking down the tent and rolling the sleeping bags and were set to reload the car for the ride home. Our plan was to head out around 11am so we could stop halfway for some lunch (NOT at McDonald’s) and hopefully be home by 2pm.
Isaiah was playing in the back of the car, I was standing next to him in case he fell out and Jason was bringing our largest camping box over to start packing the car. As soon as he set it down, we heard this loud hissing sound. We both immediately thought it was one of our propane canisters. I reached out to grab Isaiah and Jason started to take the lid off the box when we were leveled with a terrible burning in our throats and eyes. Isaiah started screaming and I ran away from the car with him coughing and gasping to catch my breath. I have never felt anything like it. I’m not even sure what Jason did. I remember hearing him gasping and choking and coughing as well but that’s about it. It was our bear spray — which is basically industrial-strength pepper spray. And it ALL came out.
Long story short? We couldn’t even go near our car for an hour. We had to open all the doors and let it air out. Jason spent that entire time trying to clean out our camping box and all the gear inside. If we had known how strong the pepper spray was, we would have thrown the entire box out, contents and all. But we didn’t know so Jason dutifully scrubbed and cleaned and scrubbed and cleaned and got the stuff all over his hands, arms, legs and face in the meantime. We finally piled in and headed for home but we coughed the entire way and Jason’s body burned the entire trip.
About halfway home Isaiah started melting down and we had to pull over so that he ccould pee yet again. We pulled up at a gas station and Jason took him in. But he refused to pee in the bathroom and insisted that he pee in the tall grass on the side of the building. Whatevs. By this point, we don’t care. Just pee and let’s get back on the road. But then he announced that he needed to poop. And that he intended to poop right there on the sidewalk. So obviously we had to draw the line. Jason said, “no, definitely not” and Isaiah launched into full-blown meltdown mode. Awesome. He laid limp on the sidewalk (thankfully not in the puddle of pee), wailing and flailing all about and Jason was forced to grab him by his hands and drag him to the car. It wasn’t pretty. But it wasn’t even the beginning of our woes.
Jason still had the oily pepper spray substance on his hands, despite washing them repeatedly before we left. And said oily substance then transferred to Isaiah’s hands during the dragging situation. Jason buckled him in and I pulled out and made haste back to the highway, Isaiah wailing all the way.
Do you know what kids do while they are having a tantrum? Besides screaming, that is? They rub their eyes. And the rest of their face. Within a minute or so, Isaiah’s crying turned to something else entirely. From angry shouting to painful shrieking. There’s a difference. As the the oils started to burn, he started screaming and screaming things like “MY FACE IS SPICY!!!! MY FACE IS SPICY!!!! HOLD ME!!!! HELP ME!!!! I LOVE YOU, MAMA, HELP ME!!!!” Gryffin, meanwhile, had his hands over his ears and was hollering at his brother to stop which was really helpful. And you know what Jason and I like to do during this sort of situation? We like to panic.
Jason usually stares straight ahead and pretends like nothing is happening and his eyes just get wider and wider. That’s Jason’s panic-mode. Mine is crazed-talking. High-pitched crazy-person talking. The whole car at this point was total pandemonium, with me shouting to Isaiah not to touch his face, not to put his hands in his mouth and I’m so sorry and here, why don’t you try drinking this water and Gryffin shouting “stop it, brother, stop it!” and Jason shaking his head manically and finally shouting over all of us, “PULL IN TO THAT McDONALD’s.”
Jason: PULL IN. DO IT.
I was in no place to argue so I pulled in, thinking it’s just somewhere to park so we can regroup. But Jason just kept talking and said, “OK, YOU HAVE TO BE QUIET! We are going in here and we are going to get something called a HAPPY MEAL and if you want one, you have to BE HAPPY! NOW! BOTH OF YOU!”
Isaiah is still wailing but now it sounded like this, “MY FACE HURTING… I HAPPY! I HAPPY!… MY FACE HURTING!
Jason carried Isaiah inside still crying and thrashing. We get to the front of the line but we are still so flustered that we can’t even figure out how to order. Jason’s eyes started getting wide again, Isaiah started screaming, “MY EYES ARE SPICY!” and the woman at the cash register is just staring at us, mouth open. So I grabbed Isaiah and took him to the bathroom where I washed his hands and face repeatedly and calmed him down.
Meanwhile the woman at the register finally says to Jason, “ummm, are you ok, sir?” which helped him snap out of it and he said, “yeah, uhhhh, we’ll have some happy meals or?” And so she took it from there. Like a boss. She helped him order the food and somehow we ended up with burgers and fries all around and milkshakes to boot. The boys both rallied when they saw the play area and Isaiah quickly forgot his woes when he opened his toy.
Jason and I just sat there numb for a few minutes, recovering from it all, staring at each other, unable to speak. But once we got over the shock and realized that the boys were both happy and occupied, we settled in to perhaps the best family meal-time we’ve ever had. Jason and I have never had such a long stretch of uninterrupted conversation over a meal. Ever. Isaiah and Gryffin ate and played happily. There was no whining, no drama, and all the ketchup they could ever want. And although we were both secretly hoping that the food would be terrible? OHMYGOSH, THOSE FRIES.
We made it home 3 hours later than planned. Another layer of parenting pride stripped away (seriously, how are there any layers left?) and our camping glow dimmed significantly. But we’ll rally. We always do. And hey, I hear they’ve got these McDonald’s things everywhere these days.