“Be good, and don’t eat anyone’s food.” I overheard a mother tell her son, who looked about 10, as she opened the door to the play area at McDonalds.
That’s an odd thing to say, I thought to myself. He played for a while and then came up to our table, asking us random questions whilst leaning over the table and not so conspicuously reaching into our bright red chips box, taking a fistful of hot salty chips and shoving them in his mouth.
Aaron and I turned to each other with a “WTHeck do we do?!?!?!” look of desperation acrossboth of our faces.
Do we say something? Hide the food? Put it somewhere out of reach? Tell his mum?
Nope. We went with completely ignore it and pretend that there wasn’t a random boy standing there reaching into our bags of food.
He played for a little while again before coming back to forage for chips once more (and by chips, I mean fries. These Aussies have corrupted me).
The kids responded to random foraging boy by wiggling in their chairs, anxious to play. I lifted Daniel out of the high chair and let him run around while Aaron threw away all of the remaining food, just in case our visitor came back.
I sat on the big soft-fall mushroom in the middle of the play area, watching Daniel and making sure he didn’t climb up the slide and get barrelled over by bigger kids, something he seemed to desperately want to try at least once.
“Do you like 80s music?” Random forager asked as he walked up to me, stopping too close for my comfort.
“Some.” I told him, not wanting to be rude, but not wanting to get into a conversation either.
“I really like 80s music,” he told me eloquently as he came even closer, walking right up to me and putting one leg on each side of my knee, hands on my shoulders, practically straddling me.
Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe this particular moment. This was not just your average 10 year old either. This kids was bigger than me. The play area at McDonalds is surrounded by glass on two sides and everyone in the restaurant can see the play area if they happen to be looking in that direction. And if they did happen to be looking in that direction, they would probably think I somehow enticed an innocent child into my lap.
I wanted random forager off of me and out of my personal space as fast as humanly possible, but at the same time, I didn’t want to just push him with all of my might (mite?) and make him think he was some sort of a freak, scarring him for life.
I casually attempted to free myself from his grasp, at which point he decided it would be better to just sit in my lap, still going on and on about 80s music. Somehow, I managed to inch my way towards freedom, a process that took about 30 seconds and ended with me sitting next to him on the mushroom. I promptly stood up, avoiding any more awkward personal space incidents.
And where was his mum the entire time? Inside, reading a paper. Oblivious to all of the food stealing and inappropriate invasions of personal space. Sigh.
*FYI, we don’t go to McDonalds often, but they have a great playground, and the kids love nuggets and chips, so sometimes, it’s a good treat.
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Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson