Life with Toddlers: The Fast Food Play Area

We knew it was inevitable. And this Monday, the inevitable happened. Until this past Monday we’ve kept Charlotte blissfully oblivious to the play areas at fast food restaurants. Now truth be told, we don’t eat much fast food so I suppose it really isn’t that impressive that Charlotte has been so sheltered her whole life.

I’m not sure why I wanted to keep her from these play areas. I’m not really a germaphobe mom. Maybe it relates back to when I was a kid – a young child climbed into the hamburger at our local McDonald’s Play Place and got too scared to come back down. Don’t worry – I saved the day and climbed up there to help the child down. Maybe I wanted to protect Charlotte from the trauma that child faced of being stuck in the hamburger forever. Anyway…

After our weekly walk around the Rose Bowl we were sitting at Chick Fil A enjoying our free soup (thanks to the Chick Fil A calendar cards) – chicken noodle for Than and Charlotte, chicken tortilla for me. We were happily enjoying our soup and making sure dear Charlotte didn’t scald her tongue out of excitement to eat all the noodles out of her soup, when suddenly she looked up and gleefully shouted “Car!!!”

It was at this moment I knew things would never be the same. The yummy noodles, the straw, the water with ice (a current favorite thing) – they were all forgotten. She had eyes only for the car in the play place.

We’re obviously rookies here. Seasoned parents would know that you ALWAYS sit your child facing the opposite direction of the play area. It’s too late for us, but perhaps that little tidbit of wisdom will help someone else.

There was no possible way we were saying no to her adorable excitement, so off Charlotte and Daddy went for her first fast food play area experience as I finished up my soup.

When I was done I entered the play area to find Charlotte happily climbing up the stairs to the tunnels that lead to the slide and that car up in the sky. She thought she was big stuff – playing with the big kids and all.

I think the big kids were enjoying her just as much as she enjoyed them. She followed them around and gave them a cute little smile as she toddled her way cautiously around. This was all new territory for her. As time went on they coaxed her to be brave and finally she crawled her way through the enclosed tunnels to the car she so desperately wanted to play in.

She was having the time of her life – until it was time to go. While the big kids were great at coaxing her into the car, they weren’t quite so successful at coaxing her out. Not for lack of trying (seriously parents, make friends with the bigger kids – they are super helpful) but Charlotte was determined to stay in that car.

There was only one option. I folded my 5’11” frame practically in half and started my way up the play equipment. I figured if I just went part of the way up there I might be able to coax her over to me and we could descend the stairs together. Oh no. She was not budging. It meant I had to brave the tunnels. Let’s just say that those tunnels are NOT intended for tall adults (or adults at all for that matter). Miraculously I didn’t get stuck and I made it far enough to pull her out. Yes, I had to pull her. She can be a determined little one!

Of course as I (awkwardly) start making my way down a whole swarm of kids starts making their way up – unsure what to do with this adult with her legs all twisted trying to go the “wrong way” as everyone else was coming up the stairs.

Pretty sure I broke a little bit of a sweat by the time all was said and done. But we survived. Charlotte had a blast (and wore herself out in time for bedtime). And of course she went around and gave each person in there a hug on her way out. That’s our sweet Charlotte.

Charlotte at Chick Fil A

The First Year

Nearly 3 months have passed since our last blog and it’s certainly not due to a lack of things to tell you about!  From 2 stays in the hospital, Charlotte’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas, to standing, cruising, crawling, and even a couple of wobbly steps, to 5 new teeth (7 total), diaper blowouts that rival those newborn explosions and lots of babbling, we are absolutely blown away that our baby girl turns 1 this week!  How did all these little moments turn into a year?!

As we scoop Charlotte (all 20 something pounds of her!) up into our arms, we see a little girl, so different from that tiny 6 lb 1.5 oz baby we welcomed into the world last February.  She’s provided much joy and laughter and she’s inspired much awe – at first for her tininess and now her “hugeness”. We cannot stroke her soft, chubby cheeks or tickle her ribs (which results in belly laughs) enough. Exhaustion comes, but the beauty and joy always surpass our weariness.

I can’t talk about how much Charlotte has grown and changed without recognizing that we too have changed.

I suppose it should seem obvious that becoming a parent will change you.  Perspective. Priorities. There were some defining moments along the way…  Taking your baby to the ER and being admitted into the hospital takes what you know about parenting to a whole new level.  So does both parents being down with the stomach flu with a very active 11 month old…  And that was all just last month! Yes, as time has passed we have definitely been initiated into a new level of parenthood and I can only imagine what that will look like in the years to come.  But it’s not just the crises and major events that have changed us- it’s the choices you intentionally (or often subconsciously) make day to day.

The day to day choice to TRUST that God loves your baby more than you. The choice to BELIEVE that His grace is enough to fills the gaps of your own human inadequacies. Choosing to RELINQUISH the illusion of control you think you have over your life and your child’s life.  The choice to FIX YOUR EYES on Him when more things than every before threaten to draw your focus. The choice to EMBRACE the chaos and BE THANKFUL.

And with time, I believe all those little choices help us reflect the beauty of Christ a little more. For us, it all started with the beauty of the arrival of our Charlotte Quinn on February 6, 2015.

Then….

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And Now!

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