McDonald's, you've really lost it.
On an extra-long spring break road trip last week, we stopped at one of the few restaurants in town which just happened to be a McDonald's. You can always sell a happy meal to hungry kiddos. When I got to the front and placed my order, the person punching it in looked up and said "Okay, boy or girl?
I've ordered my share of Happy Meals, I'm three kids deep, but no one has ever asked me if I have a boy or a girl when I put in my nuggets order. Surprised, I said boy and moved along to wait for my number to be called, right next to the display of Happy Meal toys, featuring Disney princesses and Star Wars toys.
My special needs nine-year-old son said, "Look mom! I'm going to get a Disney princess!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that wasn't quite true, since apparently those aren't for boys. And I guess girls don't like Star Wars either.
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How about asking princesses or Star Wars instead of boy or girl?
I wish I could have watched the Zoom board meeting where the McDonald's executives made the ultimate gender specific decision on what boys and girls are interested in for families across the world.
When we walked out to the parking lot, my twelve-year-old daughter told me that she was going to call McDonald's the next day, because she couldn't BELIEVE that they had the nerve to ask whether the meals were going to a boy or a girl. She ordered the crispy chicken sandwich, but given the Happy Meal choice, I'm pretty sure she would have opted Star Wars.
We have had plenty of tutus over here, and a Barbie dream house and princess stories galore. We have army toys, and Nerf guns, and plenty of other toys that have been bought for a certain child that I suppose could be classified as gender specific. I haven't worried about it. When Santa got the Barbie Dream House request from my son because he loved elevators, Santa delivered. And when my daughter wanted to play football, I signed her up. I'm not sure she noticed that she was the only girl on the team. I haven't made a big point to any of them about what's for girls and what's for boys, and have tried to just let it happen. But then you head into a drive-thru window and your kids hear a question that sucks the air out of what you are trying to teach.
It's hard to believe that in the current state of the universe, where people are opting for gender neutral clothing, and people are identifying themselves in a variety of ways that are true to who they really are, that McDonald's just shot us back twenty years with the question of boy or girl?
Back home, in a different state, I went back for another Happy Meal today, curious to see if I would hear the same thing. First question I heard after asking for chicken nuggets was...boy or girl? Here is to hoping that the next question I get in the drive-thru has to do with whether we want extra fries or apple slices.