My two youngest grandchildren love to visit “Old McDonald”, their name for the fast food place known for its golden arches. I, of course, do not share their love for this place but my desire to please them does occasionally have us partaking of happy meals. Grace and Gabriel always seem to enjoy their boxed food but the highlight of the visit is playing in the indoor PlayPlace.
We made a golden arch stop this past week. My Grace and Gabriel made quick work of their burgers, gogurts and apple juice anxious for the climbing and sliding to begin. The playground area has tables for the parents, grandparents and assorted other care givers to sit and for me, endure the least amount of time I feel will make my little ones content with the experience. My biggest problem with the playground is the garden of germs I fear exists inside it. Everyone who knows me understands I can be a little germaphobic, (could NOT find that word in the dictionary, who knew?) I want things neat and orderly and I like things clean and this playground will never meet my standards. There are other parks for small children but the Oklahoma heat pushed us to choose the ONLY indoor playground in our city.
As my grands were playing I noticed a large group in the center of the room. There were super cute little ones in high chairs, they had very curly hair and beautiful skin the color of café au lait, three beauties to be exact. I could tell there were many other children with this group and I decided perhaps a small day care was there for lunch. I observed the small ones feeding themselves fries and worried (I do that) they would choke. After the fries came ice cream cones, the cones were handed to them and the mess that followed was monumental.
It was at this time that I noticed the older children were entering the play area carrying their ice cream cones. There is a sign that clearly states no food allowed in the PlayPlace. One little boy carried his cone into the playground but was eating it as fast as he could so I thought perhaps there wouldn’t be too big a problem. Moments later another little boy had his cone dripping all the way down his hand and arm and onto the floor and went running into the playground. At this point I went to the entrance and called for my Grace and Gabriel, I told them we had to leave because there was a child dripping ice cream all over the equipment.
Rounding up my two is never easy and I had to enter the play area to recover them. They were both pretending either English was not their first language or that they could not hear my voice and it took many attempts. I had no idea I was about to be ambushed. I turned to see if Mike had successfully captured one of ours and the “mother” (I am being so generous with that word) of the ice cream drippers was standing beside me wanting a confrontation. She had a napkin in her hand and was saying “Where, where is the ice cream, I don’t see anything” and pretended to wipe the floor. I looked her straight in the eye and said “probably on all the children’s feet”. Her comeback was “I suppose you don’t have water at home”. At this point I realized she wanted to argue and I did not want to participate. I said, “leave us alone, I have nothing to say to you”. I gathered my sweet ones and we went to the restroom provided and I washed their hands with lots of soap and water, knowing when we got home I would also scrub their little feet. They were happy and unaware of any confrontation, but my Gracie asked “why was there ice cream on our slide?”
Even though I had made it clear I was not going to argue with the woman she never hushed. Mike told me as we left some other parent reported the situation to the Old McDonald staff and they spoke to the group about the “no food allowed” rule. I noticed the other guests were giving me looks like “you go girl” as we exited, I thought they were happy for the rule enforcement. Later Mike explained to me what was said while the kids and I were washing. She loudly told her children, (I guess they were not a small daycare), not to grow up and be like “them” (Mike and I). She told them we were prejudiced and did not like them because they were “mixed”.
I have thought about those words a lot these last few days, “prejudice” and “mixed”. I have decided I am both, my family is mixed in many ways, we have Native American ancestors, we are of French descent and I am sure a multitude of other nationalities. I have one black son in-law and two Caucasian, I love all three. I am most certainly “mixed”.
Now for prejudice, I am also prejudiced, we are all prejudiced. I have little to no tolerance for laziness, I cannot abide ignorance (when it is a choice), and I detest dishonesty and hypocrisy. But wait, there are more, I am also prejudiced toward abusers and molesters, for those monsters I have absolutely zero tolerance. Yes, I harbor prejudices.
My Old McDonald experience has made me reflect on myself. I have admitted to being mixed and prejudiced and I am ok with both. I know I am also open minded, I love with all my being and I always try to do the right thing. I am ok with that too.