When a Couple at McDonald's Said I Shouldn't Feed My Son in Public
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In 1993, we were living in London. My husband’s diplomatic career made us fearless about travel, even with two children, one of whom was medically complex with severe disabilities. We had an excellent treatment team at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and one day, my son Nicholas and I went there for a routine feeding tube change. The procedure was quick but painful, so I promised my boy a Happy Meal afterwards at McDonald’s as a reward.
With a shiny new tube in place, we walked across the square and down the busy sidewalk to the nearest Golden Arches. We found a table that could accommodate Nick’s small wheelchair and I ordered our meal. Nicholas is mostly tube-fed, but he loves to sample his favorite junk foods. We tore open the bag of food, marveled over his free toy and I began to carefully present small bites of burger and fries.
A young and uniformed staff member came toward our table looking frightened and ashen.
“Yes?” I asked. “Is everything all right? Is something wrong?”
He gulped. “I’m so sorry. That couple over there complained about you. They said you shouldn’t be here in a restaurant feeding your son. They said you should do that at home.”
My eyes widened. He continued, “I told them they had to move their seat. You stay here. I’m so sorry.”
Frankly, as they say in England, I was gobsmacked. I looked over at the complainers. They were old (probably the same age I am now). They were glowering at us – at me and my incredibly adorable 4-year-old son.
“Uhh?” Nick asked with a rising inflection. He wanted to know what all this fuss was about. “There is an older couple over there, Nick, who are not happy. I believe their mommies did not love them enough. I think they need our prayers.
“DEAR LORD…” I began with my head bowed and my voice amplified, “please forgive these very sad people who need more love in their hearts and more kindness in their actions. Amen.” Nicholas was laughing his head off. I’m not sure he understood what was happening, but there’s no question he “got” that his mom was mouthing off – in a good way, of course. We both giggled into our napkins and finished our fries with a flourish.
“Right!” I said to Nick. “It’s only 10 o’clock and I think we’ve accomplished a lot today!”
Over the years, we’ve had many dining experiences that have ranged from bad to excellent. But that day in London was definitely our “worst/best” one ever.