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Happy Meals lose weight

San Francisco supes, where ya been all my life?

In a landslide vote last week, Fog City’s board of Supervisors made it illegal for fast-food eateries to include toys in kiddie meals that fall below reasonable nutrition standards. No more can the area’s burger mills market high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium food to children with the promise of a plastic, princess-shaped choking hazard in every grease-stained sack.

It was a bold move, to be sure — a move undertaken to deflate ballooning childhood obesity rates, and a move that left the Happy MealTM-hawking McDonald’s corporation understandably unHappyTM.

But I, for one, applaud it.

Oh, I know your new law will be ridiculed. I know loud-howling liberty-lovers will call your “eat this, not that” edict an audacious obstruction of free enterprise and a bass-ackward Band-Aid of a solution to a staggeringly complex socio-economic problem. Also, let’s face it, the crap food is still being served at irresistibly low prices, and this is exactly the sort of chop-off-our-hands-to-keep-us-from-harming-ourselves legislation that makes us liberals seem so frighteningly stupid.

But let me just say this: I’ve been waiting decades for someone to entirely eradicate the pesky burden of parenting. And you’ve just done that. Nice one!

Look, I know those kids’ meals are poison on an enriched-flour bun. I know there’s enough salt on those fries to sizzle all the snails in Golden Gate Park. But I have to live with something far more toxic than all of that: my children’s whines.

“Please, Mommy? Pleeease? I really want the (insert promotional movie tie-in tchotchke here) that comes in this week’s kids meal! I neeeeed it!”

They wear me down, those puppy-eyed li’l beggars. I hate being the “no” mom all the time. The “sorry, not today” mom. The unpopular, “forget it, that stuff will kill you” mom.

I have no parental will power whatsoever. And now, thanks to your handy “no toy” manifesto, I don’t need it. Yay, me!

Here’s what I’m wondering, though: What else can you do for me?

You’re not the first to pass this toy ordinance. The whole of Santa Clara County did so earlier this year. So I’m hoping the trend will spread to other parts of the country (Northern California parents aren’t the only ones who lack backbone, you know; we all need help) — and to other tricky areas of parenting, as well.

How soon, for example, before we can walk down a cereal aisle without our kids begging for Cocoa Puffs? My kids are coo-coo for the stuff, but it’s almost half sugar. And what can be done about the holiday toy aisle at Costco, which has my kids petitioning for the Techno Gear Marble Mania Galaxy from August through bleeping Boxing Day?

As long as we’re stifling pesky pleas, can you prevent Jackass 3-D from advertising in places where G-rated eyeballs might see it and demand a ticket to the 3 p.m. showing? Can you enact a law that prohibits school-night sleepovers, so I don’t always have to be the bad guy in that conversation, as well?

Kids want all kinds of things they shouldn’t have: Airsoft rifles. Pet monkeys. Unsupervised access to YouTube. And all I want is a scapegoat. I’d like to live in a world where our family could get through one stinking dinnertime conversation without arguing about all the things my kids can’t have. When they ask, I’d simply shirk the blame, saying, “Sorry, sweetie. You know I would if I could. But it’s illegal here.”

Now that’s what I’d call a happy meal.

Published inColumnsParenting
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