My kids' school had a fundraising event tonight at the Mecca of McNuggets.
The Golden Arches are a favorite of millions of children the world over, mine included. Going there has become more troublesome of late, primarily due to my son's tendency to obsess over the Toy du'Jour being offered in the Happy Meal.
He memorizes the toys on the readerboard. When he's earned enough stickers at school to get the much-anticipated Happy Meal, he will immediately begin considering which of the current toys he wants the most, the top selection being chosen on a rating scale of physical attractiveness, its "coolness" factor and whether or not he's already got it. Getting a not wanted toy is second in disappointment only to getting a toy that he already possesses. If the toy that is received is not the toy that he has been building himself up to anticipate, a meltdown generally ensues.
He's not just being a rotten child. He's not just being a "typical" six year old who is disappointed because he didn't get what he wanted. The meltdown stems from his complete inability to accept an outcome that is outside of his expectations. Inflexibility is one of the many symptoms of his issues. He doesn't want to be this way; rather, he can't help it.
But, tonight was McTeacher's night, and both the kids really wanted to go see their friends and teachers. We wanted to support our school. So we went.
The place was packed to the gills with elementary students and teachers, and even the vice-principal and the librarian. The kids happily greeted their educators and their friends.
Unfortunately, it was also LOUD and CHAOTIC. And then...the worst. C wanted the RED TONKA TRUCK. The one with THE HOOK. Of course, they didn't happen to have that one available. And they looked, trust me, they looked. Nobody wants to disappoint the cute little kindergartner who is crying his eyes out because he wants a certain truck. But they didn't have it.
How fast can you get out of a crowded McDonald's with your kindergartner who is melting down? Who is the ONLY CHILD IN THE RESTAURANT who is crying? Every other child there was happy. Of course they were happy. Why not? They were enjoying the great treat of having their McNuggets and sodas with their friends, teachers and parents. As far as they were all concerned, life was Grand. Wonderful. With the sole exception of my son.
I was as patient as I could be. I got our meals together. I got an ice cream cone for my daughter. The lady behind the ice cream counter was patient enough to wait for a sobbing boy to select his orange sherbet cone. And then we collected ourselves and departed.
He cried all the way home. I cried from tiredness and frustration.
Naturally, within ten minutes of arriving home, he was happily showing off his new tonka truck to me. It wasn't the one he wanted, no, but it just took him enough time to get used to the concept of having something unexpected.
God, please forgive me for looking at all of those happy, smiling children in that restaurant tonight and wishing that for just once, JUST FUCKING ONCE that we could be just like them instead of being the weird family with the child who screams for reasons that aren't readily apparent to everyone else.
Please forgive me for wishing for once NOT to be the family that gets stared at as we exit yet another public event with a howling child who simply cannot handle being there.
Forgive me, when things could be so much worse than they are. Because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining.
Even when I am.