Unfrazzling the frazzled.

Last week I took the kids through the McDonald’s drive-through. (I know, I know – a homeschooler eating fast food – freaky ain’t it? Next thing you know, we’ll be cursing like sailors and playing video games.)

Anyway. So, it’s dinner hour, and the kids are a bit of a sopping mess after swimming lessons, and RegularDad’s working late or bowling with his boss, or something, so I’m all: “Hey, who wants McDonald’s?” and reveling in those spare few moments when I am THE GREATEST MOM IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, and I pull into a mildly long line  at our local McD’s and wait a while.

Now, mildly long lines at the drive through don’t bug me all that much, because it gives me time to take the girls’ orders, and let me just say that the decision between a Hamburger Happy Meal or a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal followed by the agony of not being allowed to get soda because it’s not the weekend followed by the interminable silence that is my 5-year-old deciding between chocolate milk and apple juice can take a FREEKIN’ ETERNITY. So a long line can sometimes be a bit of a boon sometimes, is all I’m sayin’.


So, we get up to the speaker and upon hearing that age-old metallic garbled welcome-to-mcdonalds- can-I-take-your-order, I give the kids’ orders, and then I ask a question about something on the menu, something that’s just a dollar. I dunno what. Just something. And there’s this utter silence at the other end — like the girl in there fell into some BLACK HOLE OF UTTER DOOM AND OBLIVION because I didn’t just say And gimme a #4 with Coke — and then someone else gets on the line and answers my question and we move on to the payment window, and finally up to the next window where I’m handed a few bags of “food” and I pull up a little bit so the car behind me won’t be delayed, and CHECK THE BAGS.

Because long experience has taught me that you never just drive away from the McDonald’s drive-through without CHECKING THE BAGS. Because they always forget the sauce. Or the straws. Or the fries. Or something.

This time, HORROR OF HORRORS, they’d forgotten the TOYS!

MOM!!!!!!!!!! my 5-year-old cried. THERE’S NO TOY!!!!!!

(AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Let Loose The Hounds of Hell!!!!!!!!!)

What? I said. What do mean? No toy?

Then my 8-year-old said: I don’t have one either.

And so much for the drive-through. We parked the car and went inside and waited 10 minutes for someone to help us. There was only one register open, and the girl working that register was obviously, PAINFULLY new at this job. She had someone shadowing her, telling her exactly what to say, which buttons to push, where to find the apple pies, etc, etc, etc.

And you could SEE IT on her face: how frantic she was. What a nighmare her afternoon had been, and that the evening was probably going to be at least just as bad, if not worse. I suspected that if I were to elbow my way to the front of the line and wave my receipt and demand a couple of Happy Meal Toys for Girls, she’d have just collapsed onto the floor in a sobbing teenage ruin, and who needs that on their conscience?

So, I waited in the regular line with my two anxious daughters, watching this frazzled teenager learning valuable lessons about life and capitalism and the importance of a good college education. And eventually, we made it up to the front there and I showed her my receipt and asked for our toys and then we left.

“Thanks, Mom!” the girls said to me, skipping out to the car with their treasures. “You’re the BEST!!!”

They didn’t tack on that part about the WHOLE UNIVERSE, but that’s okay. The universe is expanding anyway. It’s better to not be compared to things that are expanding these days. I am 40 now, after all.

Tonight, I ran out to the grocery store to pick up salad fixings, some cauliflower, and milk (things that will definitely not earn me the GREATEST MOM IN THE ENTIRE EXPANDING UNIVERSE AWARD), and I jumped into the express line and proceeded to wait quite a while because someone up there had written an actual check to pay for her items, and it practically made the clerk’s head explode. He had to type in all these codes and numbers and it wasn’t working at all. He tried it three times, and he couldn’t get it to work. And he was starting to panic. He kept trying, and after every failed attempt, he’d look over his shoulder to where another clerk was working a line and say: “Hey man! I really NEED your help over here!”

By then I was doing that special crane dance: where you start stretching your neck around to see if anyone else is open, because this could take FOREVER. But the only other guy open was the guy that was going to end up over here helping this dude out, so why bother moving, right? Besides, it was the express lane. The lady in front of me had maybe 7 items. And let’s face it, a trip to the store alone is like a mini-vacation anyway. Why rush things? So, I waited. I read some of the Enquirer’s headlines. Patrick Swayze’s not looking too good these days. It’s very sad.

After a while, and without the other guy’s help at all, this dude managed to figure it out. He was so relieved! “You’ve got to hit the pound sign at the end,” he confessed. Ah, yes, we all nodded sagely. The elusive pound-sign maneuver. It’s gotten the best of all of us at one time or another, hasn’t it? But, we all smiled and cheered for him a little. We could tell he was new at this job. He thanked all of us individually for being so kind and patient. And when I whipped out my Visa card instead of a check book at the end, you could tell it totally made his night.

So, there’s me: being patient. Me: being nice.

Isn’t it nice?


What I wish for, is that I could remember how to act nice like this when it’s the kids who are frazzled. I wish that I could remember that when they’re freaking out, it’s not at all unlike what these two people were going through. That in their little heads, there’s this weird buzzing sound, and nothing seems to be connecting right. And they don’t need me adding to their stress by being impatient. Or yelling at them and sending them to timeout.

That’s what I wish.


13 Responses to “Unfrazzling the frazzled.”

  1. 1 rae March 20, 2009 at 6:52 am

    And again – Damn! You can write! Loved every word and every second spent reading. :0) Muah!

  2. 2 RegularMom March 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Thanks Rae. 🙂 Muah!

  3. 3 Maria March 20, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Okay, so when you get that figured out, will you let me know? Because I am ALWAYS my worst self to my family. Why is that? Too comfortable with them? Do I just know they’ll put up with me? Maybe I like to keep the facade going in public but I know that my family has seem the scrummy underbelly of my personality so I let it rip? I don’t know. I think if I knew I would make lots of money writing a book about it.

  4. 4 RegularSis March 21, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    I too wish that – and I can honestly say that wishing has made it so at least one time, so there you go – there’s hope. Thanks for reminding me.


  5. 5 Sarah March 23, 2009 at 3:44 am

    “So, I waited in the regular line with my two anxious daughters, watching this frazzled teenager learning valuable lessons about life and capitalism and the importance of a good college education.”

    Oh my. Oh my. Your whole post made me laugh, but this one sentence made my nose hurt from snorting so hard. I would have laughed but I was drinking.

    I’ve just found your blog – your writing is very, very good.

    Oh my. Ow.

  6. 6 RegularMom March 23, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Thanks guys. And Sarah — welcome to my blog. Sorry about your nose, though. 🙂

  7. 7 Mommylion March 23, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    “I know, I know – a homeschooler eating fast food – freaky ain’t it? Next thing you know, we’ll be cursing like sailors and playing video games.”

    You’ve been spying on my family? 🙂

    I agree with everyone. Your writing just makes me happy, it flows so well.

  8. 8 Heather March 24, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Wow, you’re such a saint compared to me. I *would have* wished a million times that I could be as patient with my children as frazzled teenage McDonald’s employees, except I’m never patient with them either. Do you think it’s a progressive thing, or can you just start anywhere? All this time I’ve been working on being patient with the kids, but maybe I should start smaller on things like grocery checkers?

    Btw, I was gonna share a related story, but it turned into a kinda long one, and I think I’ll just blog about it.

  9. 9 Sara March 24, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Love it! I wish I could remember to be patient with mine, also.

  10. 10 Lisa March 24, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I agree with RegularSis – wishing has occasionally reminded me to make it so, so there’s hope!

    Great post! Glad to see you all on the mend!

  11. 11 RegularMom March 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks everybody.


  12. 12 Obi-Mom Kenobi March 31, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I can (and if ticked off enough, do) swear with the best of sailors. Seriously, pirate-grade, cursing. Do I need to turn in my homeschooling card or do you think the’ll let is slide, considering the fact that you’re buying fast food and all? 🙂

  13. 13 Rustys Mom January 7, 2010 at 1:45 am

    I love this post. I’m enjoying all of them. Thanks for sharing. E

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