After careful consideration I decide that their behaviour has been exceptional and that a treat is in order. I research our options before I collect them from school. What new culinary experience might best fit the bill? Where is noisy enough?
I have another brilliant idea. Now would be the perfect time to try Kentucky Fried Chicken. Two of them eat chicken and I am fairly confident that chips will be available.
I make time to explain the plan. I ensure that I have everyone’s attention prior. I plant the word ‘fries’ in the second statement to pre-empt a meltdown. I emphasis the reward nature of the experience, as a certain amount of doubt is immediately apparent. My daughter is delighted. The boys check her out to see whether or not they should be delighted too. I remind them of our nauseating catch phrase, ‘new, different, exciting.’ They reluctantly decide that weak positive enthusiasm, is possibly the best option.
We spend copious amounts of time with shoes and toilets because I am distracted by finding the nearest restaurant location with the aid of the computer. I give up and attend to feet and bodily functions because I have the luxury of a GPS system in the car.
My children sit in the car for seven minutes fighting their car seat belts whilst I fight with the logic of the GPS, always a mystery. After my 27th attempt at typing in ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ I am just about ready to cut my fingertips off with a pair of secateurs. “What is wrong with this stupid thing!” I squeak at no-one in particular. “I’m sure it’s real near. I remember seeing it near somewhere.” “Near yet ever so far at the same time!” I bleat. “I suppose we could just drive around and hope that we bump into it?” “No bumping in car!” “She din mean real bumping.”
I need a plan B and quite possibly a plan C. I long for spouse to return, the man with a compass in his head. “I thought you said we were going to the chicken place?” “We are! Or rather we would be if I could find it.” “Type it in again. Let me see.” “There’s no point. I’ve already tried every possible feasible combination of location, city, keyword, place name and street. It doesn’t exist.” “It does. I saw it say Main Street or something.” “Main Street in Arizona, about 1679 miles away.” “How long will it take us to get there?” “Days!” “But I’m hungry, I don’t think I can wait that long. Try again, let me help.” “O.k. just to show you, here K-E-N-T-U-C-“ “Wait!” “Wait what?” “What are you typing?” “Kentucky Fried Chicken.” “Try KFC.” “It’ll never pick up on that, it needs everything spelled out for it.” “Jus try it mom.” “Ah…..1.6 miles, that’s a bit more like it.”
We park on the curb side of the lot to narrow the chance of anyone being mown down before we manage to enter the establishment. As it turns out, we are unable to enter the establishment in any case. My youngest son is prostrate on the concrete by the entrance, quite a feat for the tactile defensive amongst us. I try and drag him away from the doors to avoid pedestrian traffic trampeling. Strangely he is compliant. We wait for words to return, but my daughter is ahead of the hunt, “he ain’t gonna go in there!” “Why not?” “Veggie tales.” “Pardon?” “There’s a poster of Veggietales on the door.” The vomit sounds from my son confirm her accuracy. “Vegetables are be poison!” “Chips are made of potatoes, remember that potatoes are a vegetable?” He sits bolt upright, reviews the poster whilst he sucks his fingers. He bobs to his toes and is in the double doors in a flash.
Inside I suppress a groan. Menu choices abound. Too much darned choice! There are enough different combinations to satisfy every family. The boys swing on the bars to help them assimilate the information. My daughter and I gaze at the board like goons. “What do you think you would like dear?” “I’m gonna have a burger an fries.” “No, which chicken dish are you going to have?” “I’m not gonna have chicken.” “But that’s why we came here!” I squeak in exasperation. My sons falls off the bars in a heap, an ooof and a “I be have dah burger also.” “What about the chicken!”
I give up and place our order. I read the options again and peer into the back to see if I can spot a knife and fork, or something else that might work like a knife or a fork. After another 10 days of liquid diet following dental carnage, I am doubtful of my ability to eat anything quite as solid as chicken. I dither whether or not to ask. I decide to pretend that I am an American and do what Americans do, I just need to watch them to see what how they manage this culinary feat. All three of my children play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ loudly, in the centre of the room, elevated on tall stools for maximum broadcasting.
“Hey Mom, they called yur name.” “Did they? Are you sure?” “Yeah, they called Maddison right?” I remember that I’m on the wrong continent and stomp over to the counter to collect numerous Styrofoam packages without a recycle label.
The children concur that the plastic free toy is inferior to the MacDonald’s equivalent. They agree that the burgers are not up to par with competitors. Chips are granted a paultry 7 out of ten, but consumption of calories continues in between the light banter. We are meltdown free and collectively as noisy as the other 26 people in the restaurant. Balance personified. I examine my food and wonder how best to tackle it? Biting is banned for 6 months. No tools are forthcoming. All around me people chew on drumsticks, gnaw on chicken wings, gulp down lumps of chicken breast and general show off. “Why aren’t you eatin Mom? Don’t like the chicken after all?” “I love the chicken, or rather I hope to love the chicken. I’m just not quite sure how to eat it.” “Just pull a bit off, a bit sized piece.” “Hmm.” “You can do it. If you make it small enough you won’t need to chew, just swallow.” “Hmm.” “Go on. Give it a go.” “But it’s all greasy, I’ll get my hands all slimy.” The boys look at me, dead in the eye, open mouthed with food falling, “sa finger lickin good.”