I relented and decided to let Eldest get a Happy Meal today. It was my fortnight big shopping day, and my thought was to pick him up from pre-preschool, hit a McDonald's with a Playland, then go to the grocery store. We should have just went to the grocery store.
At McDonald's, neither child wanted to eat, odd because it was around lunchtime when both are normally hungry. Eldest wanted to play right away, which isn't unusual, but didn't a couple minutes in when he was the only kid at the Playland. For a strange few minutes, he didn't want to eat or play, saying he was afraid of the Playland. He got over his fear a few minutes later when about 12 kids showed up. He had fun, and managed to eat a little of his cheeseburger.
Littlest was sitting in the high chair while Eldest played. I tried to give him food, he kept throwing it on the floor. Eventually, I thought I'd let him try the Playland. Now, most Playlands have an area for younger kids. This one didn't. Most playlands have multiple ways to go up to the slides. This one didn't. It was a series of continuous tubes (some with mini-steps to help kids climb) that snaked their way up to a single, big, twisty slide. Near the bottom was one little turnoff that dead-ended, I was going to let Littlest play there while I made sure he didn't try climbing farther up.
Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. He kept crawling back and forth, trying to climb skyward, and I kept pulling him back, until ... another kid got between us, and Littlest was off and climbing. I told Eldest to try to bring him back down, but strangely, every time he tried, he'd somehow emerge at the bottom of the slide. It looked like he was trying to get Littlest to reverse directions, then a bunch of kids would crawl by and he'd follow them.
At first, it was cute to watch Littlest's progress. I was amazed he climbed as much as he did -- he was about a third of the way up and visible to me. I tried to take a picture with my phone. Then it got frustrating. Eldest's efforts were unsuccessful and halfhearted, though there were a couple times I thought he was going to get him down. Then it got scary, as Littlest climbed out of view and I assume up to the top. And I was getting annoyed with Eldest. I know it wasn't his responsibility or his fault Littlest went on this adventure. but he was my best chance to get Eldest down safely. I tried climbing up, and I supposed if I got really desperate I could have, but the Playland was designed for people under 4 feet tall.
I pulled Eldest aside and told him he had to get Littlest down or we weren't going swimming tomorrow (OK, I was desperate). Another mom offered to send one of her kids up to get Littlest. I could see Eldest near the top, and though I didn't see his brother, he seemed to be moving something along to the slide. Visions of Littlest breaking a leg on the slide went through my brain as I got a little more frantic. I could hear the boys on the slide, Eldest was moving him down. I crawled up the slide to meet them, looked around a corner and saw Littlest ... smiling!
Relieved, I noticed Littlest didn't have his shoes (I kept them on when I brought him in). I asked Eldest about that, and he pointed to the shoe cubbyholes -- he took his brother's shoes off and brought them down at some point while leaving him up there. Basically, he was an accomplice. I did tell Eldest I was proud of him for taking care of his brother (eventually). While holding Littlest as we were getting ready to go, he started squirming and complaining -- he wanted to GO BACK IN THE PLAYLAND. We went to the grocery store, and Littlest fell asleep on the way home.
I'm a little nervous. It turned out all right, but if Littlest turns out to be more fearless, more adventurous, more strong-willed than Eldest (who already displays all those qualities), we are in big trouble.