Back story: I found out on the phone last week that my husband took my son (who we’ll call Mr. B) to McDonald’s. He was supposed to just take him to the pediatrician’s to check on his cough, but he ended up stopping to treat Mr. B to a Happy Meal. (My husband isn’t he one who revealed this information. Mr. B did, as soon as he got on the phone to tell me he was okay.)
This visit to McDonald’s was the first-ever nuclear family stop there. I am an extremist by no measure; it’s just that I read Fast Food Nation a long time ago, and the line “There is shit in the meat” has never fully been erased from my mind. Not only that, but I don’t like the way McDonald’s gets into your head and your heart when you’re really young and tries to make you loyal forever. (It’s a little like Catholicism.)
The last time I had a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 2003, and I shoved it down during take-off on a plane. I don’t recommend that.
Since then, I have prided myself on not going there or to any other huge cheap food chain. And I’ve especially refused to take my children there. The only time they’ve gone has been when they stay with their grandparents for a few days, and I’ve of course overlooked that because it’s a special thing they associate with staying at their grandparents’. (P.S. You really can’t complain when someone offers to watch your children. For free! For more than one day!)
When I found this secret out last week, I was particularly gracious and calm and did not freak out at my husband. It didn’t hurt that he told me that Mr. B only ate the apple slices (with God knows what sort of insecticide poured all over them) and the French fries, not the chicken nuggets. Phew.
So here’s how our dinner time conversation went down.
Mr. B: Mommy said she doesn’t like it when I get toys.
Me: That’s not what I said. You asked me if I was mad that you got a toy today, and I said that I don’t think you need any more toys.
Husband: I agree with that. It was just a special thing to go to McDonald’s.
Mr. B: Mommy doesn’t like Old McDonald’s. (Note to reader: I really like that he makes that mistake.)
Husband: Mommy and I both don’t like it because we don’t think the food there is very healthy.
Mr. B: Nuh-uh! They have apples and fries and chicken nuggets.
Husband: Yes, but—
Mr. B: And you got a burger!
Me: What? You did?
Husband: I conveniently left that part out.
Me: Mr. B, do you know our food comes from plants and animals?
Mr. B: No. It comes from the supermarket.
Husband: But before that—
Me: Before that, it comes from a plant or an animal. On a farm.
Husband: Farmers are the best place to get your food.
Me: Right. And I don’t think McDonald’s treats their animals very well, that’s all.
Me: Was it any good?
Husband: It’s not that bad. It’s decent meat.
Me: It is not! There’s shit in the meat.
Me: So, Mr. B, that’s why I don’t like McDonald’s.
Husband: But it’s okay to go sometimes.
Aside. Sort of.
Me: No, it’s not okay for us to go.
Mr. B: But it doesn’t matter because they have toys!
Me: You can go with Nana and Pop-pop. We just prefer other places, like Colonial Market or a farm stand or a restaurant.
Mr. B: When you’re a grown-up, can you do whatever you want?
Husband: (swigging beer) It matters where you get your food that makes it healthy.
Husband: Do you know that a McRib and fries and soda is 1200 calories?
Me: (getting up to pour more wine) I can’t believe they call it McRib. How can people eat that? It sounds like cannibalism.
Husband: 1200 calories!
Mr. B: Can we stop talking now? This is boring.
Husband: And, Mr. B, do you know how the meat is made?
Me: (Quickly coming back to the table) Ulp! No, no! I think he had a question about grown-ups. Can you do whatever you want or something?
Mr. B: Well can you?
Me: (Sigh.) Yes, you can. But it’s only because when you’re young, grown-ups give you such good advice and teach you how to behave.
Husband: So, they take all the animals from off the fields—
Me: Ulp! Mr. B, go watch TV. Fast!
Me: You don’t tell a kid how meat is made! Do you want him to be a vegetarian or something?
Husband: The burger wasn’t bad. It was like, hyper-palatable. But it didn’t feel like it nourished me, you know?