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A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany at McDonald’s. Enlighten- ment always comes at the most ordinary moments.

Mickey D’s not my first hangout of choice, nor is it my second or third. It would be hard to even get it near the top 100 on my list. My reasons are legion, of course. I’ve seen Super Size Me. I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I know what the increasing industrialization of food production is doing to our way of life. The social/political/economic implications are not lost on me.

Despite my knowledge of the chain’s evils, my biggest issue is that, with one exception, there’s nothing at McDonald’s that I want to eat. I will, however, only go out of my way for a Shamrock Shake and that’s it. The magic of the Shamrock Shake lies in its scarcity -- like ripe, homegrown tomatoes, the season for the Shamrock Shake is limited. In some parts of the country – like the deep south – a Shamrock Shake is as hard to find as a leprechaun. But what McDonald’s does have is a Playland. On long car trips, the Playland can save your parental bacon. 

On our last long road trip, a Playland just outside of Boston kept our kids from being left on the side of the road like so much litter. I promise you that we would have come back for them, once we were able to shake the sounds of “Cooooo-rrry,” which the Diva whined at a pitch that was just shy of the sounds only dogs can hear. She’d do this whenever he even looked like he was thinking about getting on her nerves. By this point in the trip, his breathing counted as annoying. He responded to the whining by screaming. Since the Hub and I didn’t want to get hauled into court on child abandonment charges, the Playland was the only resource at our disposal. 

Ten minutes later, after scaling the very walls of the place, we all moved one step closer to enjoying each other again. Had there been Shamrock Shakes, I might have been in a good enough mood to buy ponies for the kids. As it was, we were happy to get back on the road. Road trips aside, there are days when all you want to do is turn your kids loose in a fairly confined space where they can run around until they fall over from exhaustion. If more environmentally-, gastronomically- and economically- friendly restaurant would put in a Playland, I’d be beside myself with glee. Those places don’t seem interested in courting large numbers of knee-biter set and their parents, though.

(continued at right)

Happy Fun Guy can just go to hell

Pinning down faith

The excitement of babiezzzz

Just a little advice

The torpor of July

A world in transition

We are here and we are safe

What I want

Gaps in a lifetime

Mama as atlas

Name that crotch

Confessions of the cheese

The Diva and the tube 

The eternal struggle of the pragmatist and the hysteric

Oh, Martha

Breast intentions

The ins and outs

Screamin' Mimi

Shortcoming home for the holidays

Chickpea in the oven

Doin' the potty dance

The power of Blankie


The world of boys

Yes, I know why McD’s wants my kids to build a future customer base. I’m OK with that, mostly because their marketing motivations are so transparent. This is the world my kids will live in. I’d rather they know what’s out there and learn moderation than go hog wild when they leave the shelter of my benign influence. I’m a big fan of the idea of vaccinating kids against what they may encounter. If it takes a small amount of polio to keep them from catching a full-blown case, so be it. If it takes an occasional bite of two all-beef patties to avoid future years spent in the clutches of the clown, excellent. To each, her own. I’ve digressed. 

My epiphany came while the Diva was climbing up one of the towers in the Playland. Not overly long ago, the Diva was terrified of them, so much so that she’d frequently get herself stuck about halfway up. She’d be too scared to go higher. Equally terrified to come back down. The only way to get her back on terra firma was to go up myself, bending my 5’8” frame into a space for a 3’6” one. I did my best each time to get back down without damaging her, me or the nine dozen other kids who were ticked off because we were in the way of their fun. Her brother, it should be known, has no such qualms. Once his legs get just a little bit longer, I doubt we’ll ever see him again. He’ll take up residence in one of the highest tubes. We’ll visit, of course, but never lay hands on the Boy again. 

The Diva has always been more cautious, especially when it comes to protecting her body. Which is great – but has always meant that she’d rather hold on to my leg than climb or swim or romp with other kids. But she’s older now, which I intellectually knew as I was filling out her kindergarten registration and planning for her 5th birthday party. It didn’t really hit me until I saw her scamper up to the top of the Playland a couple of weeks ago, scaling the thing like a nimble monkey. Gone is the kid who clung to me, replaced by a kid who has the confidence to climb. One more invisible strand that connects us was cut that afternoon. I’d be lying if this realization didn’t hurt just a little bit. The broad grin on her face as she flew down the slide made up for it -- as did the peals of laughter and glow of pride that followed. And then she ran right past me to do it again.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini  has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was  born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about  knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. In July 2006, her first book Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood will be published.  During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy and Cory, and wife to Scott.  




Season of the hussy

Happy Fun Guy turns out to be kinda cool

It'll be different this time, right?

And, lo, it came to pass that what was in is now out

The real Halloween scare: I have two kids

The bedroom fantasy

What's the word?

Embracing the poo

Welcome to the suck

Hillbilly Gothic

July's biatch


A new theory

A stupid choice

The myth of true love

Great expectations

Default parenting and miniature jellies

Stupid is as mother does

Playland Epiphanies

Also by Adrienne Martini

Taking Time to Heal:
Five days in the psych ward for postpartum depression

One flying to, and over, the nest

Judging Judies 
When the paths of motherhood collide

Orange Crush 
A new level of alert for envy


I I I I I I I  

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