A couple of Friday ago, at the end of the week where Noah had the chicken pox (which actually now feels like a mini-lifetime ago), I did something that I have never done in this country: purchased food from a drive-through, McDonald's to be precise. Some readers may smile as they ponder this thought, given my history. I have very fond memories of McDonald's, and ordering absolutely plain cheeseburgers as part of the Happy Meal, relishing the thought of the toy, and collecting all the toys in the series on offer. I am sure my parents probably remember my hounding them to take me to McD's so that I could complete my collection of plastic trinkets. But, a few Fridays ago, I realized this probably wasn't too much of a hardship for them, as I got to 5:00 pm, could not face the thought of doing anything in the kitchen, and decided, as a consequence, that the easiest and most fun option to hand was to take a trip to the local Golden Arches.
I posted once during my pregnancy with Noah about a trip that Blake and I took to McDonald's after a day out shopping. That was the last time I've eaten at McDonald's, so I figured that once every 18 months or so couldn't be that bad. I picked the boys up at nursery and we headed over to the local branch. I have to be honest I was actually nearly giddy with excitement as I narrated the events to the boys: "See, we're driving the car, following this lane to a machine where we are going to order our Happy Meals! Then we're going to keep driving, up to the window where Mommy will pay, and then we wait for our food which will be given to us while we're in the car! " Something about it seemed to be so remarkable to me; as I was probably too young to remember the first time I ever was a passenger in a car that went through a fast-food drive-through, this kind of felt like the first time again. We actually had to pull over into a parking space as we had to wait while the cheeseburgers with no onions, pickles or mustard were prepared (the boys do love and sometimes seem to subsist on ketchup, so ketchup made the special-order cut, an improvement on their mother's picky habits at a similar age). In that sense, having to park and wait for the food wasn't quite the full experience, but it sure gave me an incredible rush. Oh, the feeling of being a mother and introducing your children to wonderful new experiences...(for fear that you may think I'm serious, I'll add the "ha ha" which that line merits!)
Back at home, the plastic toys were discovered and enjoyed for about 7 minutes, the french fries were consumed and the burgers were picked at. I seem to remember a similar order in terms of importance. One advancement in the past 30 years is that the kids are offered milk or orange juice instead of Coke or orange soda; I picked orange juice for the boys, which Noah promptly spilled and therefore cast a downer on the oh-so-happy experience. I forgave him since he was a bit down because of the chicken pox.
And so, while I surely don't remember my own first experience of eating my first-ever Happy Meal, I'll definitely remember my first ever drive-through experience in the UK, and of the happiness it gave me. A bit like the plastic Tintin-themed telescope the boys got as their prize, I was looking through the lens of a new, but familiar experience. It was fun, and happy. And once every 18 months, it'll be something to look forward to.