We arrived home from Newport early on Sunday so that Christopher could go to a hockey game with his father. That left me to find something to do with a 12 year old and a 5 year old. The seven year age gap often proves challenging. While no one could agree on anything I suggested that we head out to grab something to eat. It was 2:00 and we had no food in the house. I mentioned all these kid friendly restaurants in town where menus had healthier options. Suddenly Alexander came up with the fabulous (insert eye roll please!) idea of going to McDonald's. I was trying to keep away from the junk, but he was insistent and I really didn't want to battle and so Rebecca shrugged her shoulders and gave me an "I don't really care. It's OK with me." kind of look. Then he announced that he wanted to go to the one with the indoor play space. I felt my body instantly being attacked by Sick Germs! Ewwww! I really hate those places. I mean really hate them.
But we were having such a nice weekend and I really didn't want to ruin it for him. And I have no idea what on earth got into me. So we went. To McDonald's. With the indoor play space. Ick!
Of course as soon as we get there I notice that Alexander has bare feet under his Merrells, never mind that I had asked him three times to put socks on. Rules clearly state that socks must be worn. Those places are gross enough. No way I am letting him play in there in bare feet!
We ordered our food -- two cheeseburger Happy Meals and a grilled chicken sandwich and headed over to the play space which was remarkably clean and remarkably un-crowded despite the fact that it was about 15 degrees outside and a long holiday weekend. The few children in there were about the same size as Alexander.
Alexander, didn't really want the cheeseburger, he told me. It was all about the toy! Of course it was! He ate his cheeseburger and wanted to dash off with the other children. Of course he did! But we had the problem with the socks. Or lack thereof. But I, being the good Momma, took my socks off and gave them to my 5 year old so that he could run around and have fun. A dad sitting in the booth behind me saw what we were doing and laughed.
Alexander took off and within seconds had about 5 new friends. Rebecca and I watched as the children played. As she watched she made a very astute observation. "Have you ever noticed that children always make friends and that they are happy to play together? Then they get older and they don't do that anymore." She thought about it some and then asked "I wonder what happens that we stop wanting to talk to everyone we meet?"
While it wold be a lovely thing if we all could start conversations with random people and become fast friends, I think what Rebecca is learning in life and by this observation, is that she has obvious interests and likes and she is defining her personality and her passions. These will, of course, change many, many times over the years but she is growing up and well on the path to the wonderful person I know she will become one day. A true and selfless sign was that she even agreed to bring Alexander into the germ-filled cesspool to begin with instead of having a fit that there was nothing for her to do there. As one child grows up before my eyes, my youngest is also creating memories for his future.
For the rest of his days he'll say to me "Momma, remember you took me to that McDonald's that had that playground inside of it? It was so much fun! Can we go again one day? Please?!" To which I will answer,"Maybe." I will answer this partly because I am not sure that we ever will go to one again and partially because Maybe is easier to say than No. Sometimes it's best not to be like a child and say what exactly is on your mind!