I am trying to rinse the twins' conditioner out of my hair (why did I forget to buy any for myself and why, oh why did I choose organic carrot conditioner?), when my eye is caught by a photo on the bathroom shelf. It is the twins, all of eighteen months old, round eyed with awe.
I know they are staring at their "big boy" cousin at his 8th birthday party, as he gleefully pulls out a Happy Meal® toy. The twins are literally drooling -- they want that toy, really badly.
I fiercely wish that I could rewind time, and spend say, half an hour with those two chubby, edible morsels of humanity. I would really enjoy them jumping up and down, shouting: "Uppy Downy Mommy" as they insisted on being picked up simultaneously. Just for half an hour, then I'd happily return to my two, occasionally eye-rolling, increasingly independent fourth graders.
I have to explain that I come from a deprived childhood. As an ex-pat South African, McDonald's® arrived on our shores when I was in my 20s. My husband and I hopped into our car, drove 30 miles and stood in line for 2 hours to experience the thrill of a Big Mac®, something we'd only ever seen in glamorous American movies and TV shows.
I've watched my children grow up with Happy Meal toys as a part of their childhood, and I've loved seeing them create new memories. Like the time Robin got the Barbie toy she'd been longing for, and was so excited she could not speak (very unusual for my daughter). I'll never forget her in her sunflower yellow dress, giggling helplessly with joy. We are picnicking near a river and in my mind's eye her brother is, as always, smeared from head to toe in ketchup.
It's true that in life, it's the little, simple, silly things that really make a difference. The things that make us smile. And I look forward one day to taking my grandchildren and watching them, misty-eyed, as they eagerly grab their very first Happy Meal toy.
Happy 30th Birthday, Happy Meal.