Parenting is one of the most memorable experiences in life. The growing up moments of children often bring surprises and accumulate into warmth and affection. Many delightful father-daughter conversations are casually recorded, while others are lost with the wind. Life's journey is full of suspense, and it's our belief in our daughters that supports us through the lows, urging us not to stop moving forward.
永远的麦当劳 / Forever McDonald's
During our time in Buffalo City, every weekend, the 'big and small bosses' （wife & daughter lol）would tirelessly shop at the Factory Outlets, playing the game of buying and returning with the merchants. As usual, I would find a nearby McDonald's, open my laptop, enjoy fries and coffee, and half-heartedly browse the internet to see what new, shocking things my bored old buddies had come up with. I pondered how to write the long-brewing "Long Live McDonald's." Fortunately, under the sun, there's nothing new; just a bunch of nerds arguing about why planes can fly, as described in books like "One Hundred Thousand Whys," without any conclusion for months. Ridiculous - if planes couldn't fly, would they still be planes? Maybe it's better to answer why birds can fly first, as planes are just the great rocs of humanity.
回到麦当劳。不管营养师怎样呼吁围剿所谓垃圾食品，也不管爱国分子怎样鼓噪抵制西方餐饮大王的侵入，麦当劳在我的心中金光闪烁，温馨惬意，有如家园。麦当劳给我的美好感觉，不在它的价廉物鲜 — 当然是新鲜的鲜，并非鲜美的鲜，毕竟是鬼子食。炸薯条和鸡块还是不错的，汉堡包在饿极时也可以下咽，比那些冷冰冰的三明治稍强。麦当劳的美好也不仅仅是它卫生亮敞的环境和茶馆一样的平易可亲的氛围。真正使麦当劳万寿无疆的是它的 Happhy Meal（儿童欢乐套餐）和它附带的儿童园地（Ronald's Playhouse）。Happy Meal 给儿时的女儿带来过无数的惊喜和欢乐，麦当劳儿童园地也见证了我跟女儿一起度过的无数美好快乐的时光。
Back to McDonald's. Regardless of how nutritionists call for a boycott of so-called junk food, or patriots decry the invasion of Western fast food giants, McDonald's shines brightly in my heart, cozy and homely. Its appeal isn't just in its inexpensive food – fresh in terms of newness, not taste, as it's still fast food after all. The fries and chicken nuggets aren't bad, and the burgers are tolerable when you're really hungry, better than cold sandwiches. But McDonald's charm isn't just in its clean, bright environment and the approachable atmosphere of a tea house. What really makes McDonald's everlasting is its Happy Meal and the accompanying Ronald's Playhouse. Happy Meals have brought countless surprises and joy to my daughter in her childhood, and Ronald's Playhouse has witnessed many wonderful moments we've shared.
对麦当劳的最初印象是我2015年前出国旅欧时形成的。一帮清贫的学生决定结伴周游欧洲各国。旅游并非阔人的专利，学生有学生的招数：买一张物超所值的铁路通票，就有了游遍欧洲的基本保障，食住行囊括了后两项。大体是白天游玩，晚上搭车加睡觉。有时一夜经过好几个国家，睡意朦胧中查验护照和签证，完了歪头再睡。一觉醒来，撞到什么旅游点，就下来走马观花。如果错过了什么名城胜景，可以转身搭车回转。随缘随机，倒也自在。这种旅行方式在学生中非常流行，对于节俭到苛刻的中国留学生更是如此。除了车票和门票（学生有优惠），唯一的开销就是吃了。旅游在外，胃口特别好，肚子时常闹意见，可旅游点的餐馆甚至小吃都价格不菲，就麦当劳的价格比较稳定。同学总结说："Believe me, 游遍欧洲，颠扑不破的真理只有一条：麦当劳是唯一吃得起也吃得饱的所在。" 人以食为天，麦当劳的流水作业和薄利多销成全了它的餐饮业霸主的地位。
My first impression of McDonald's was formed during a trip to Europe before 2015. A group of poor students decided to tour various European countries together. Traveling isn't just for the wealthy; students have their ways: buying a value-for-money rail pass ensured basic travel across Europe, covering accommodation and transportation. We generally toured during the day and traveled and slept at night. Sometimes we'd pass through several countries in one night, vaguely waking up for passport and visa checks, then dozing off again. Waking up, we'd spontaneously visit whatever tourist spot we bumped into. If we missed any famous city or scene, we could easily catch a train back. This laissez-faire travel style was popular among students, especially thrifty Chinese international students. Aside from train and attraction tickets (with student discounts), our only major expense was food. Appetites grow when traveling, and stomachs often complain, but eating at tourist spots is expensive, making McDonald's a stable choice. A fellow student summarized, "Believe me, the only unbreakable truth in traveling across Europe is: McDonald's is the only place you can afford and get full." People need to eat, and McDonald's fast service and thin profit margins cemented its dominance in the food industry.
对麦当劳的亲密而频繁的接触，还是由于甜甜。玩具是儿童的天使，甜甜热衷于追踪麦当劳儿童套餐推出的每一款玩具，遇到她喜欢的主题，比如 Furby, Teletubby, 她总是要收集各种颜色和造型的全套才满足。为此，我也没有少吃儿童套餐，为的就是尽快收集完全。有一次我连续一周午餐吃儿童套餐, 甜甜感觉奇怪：“Dad, are you ok? Did you tell me you don't really like the McDonald's food?” 我笑笑，说：“it's not bad, actually I seem to like it. Important thing is, we got the toy”。后来甜甜终于悟出来了，跟小伙伴说："I can't believe it. My Dad ate Happy Meals nonstop just to get a complete collection of my favorite toys." 语气里透着被宠爱的满足。
My close and frequent encounters with McDonald's were mostly due to my daughter, Tanya. Toys are angels to children, and she was keen on collecting every toy from McDonald's Happy Meals. Whenever she liked a theme, like Furby or Teletubby, she had to collect all the colors and designs. I ended up eating many Happy Meals to complete her collection. Once, I ate Happy Meals for lunch for a week straight. Tanya found it odd: "Dad, are you ok? Did you tell me you don't really like McDonald's food?" I just smiled and said, "It's not bad, actually I seem to like it. The important thing is, we got the toy." Eventually, Tanya realized and told her friends, "I can't believe it. My Dad ate Happy Meals nonstop just to get a complete collection of my favorite toys." She felt a satisfied sense of being spoiled.
麦当老儿童园地 / Ronald's Playhouse at McDonald's
在水牛城的岁月，麦当劳附设的儿童园地是我们最常光顾的场所，有吃有喝有迷宫，总有其他小朋友，甜甜在那里不到筋疲力竭不愿意回家。麦当劳迷宫，千转百迴，上下左右贯通，最受儿童喜爱。甜甜天生胆子小，很长一段时间，望宫兴叹。有一天，我们注意到麦当劳迷宫的游玩规定中写道：And parents, too! 原来允许做父母的跟孩子一块进去玩儿，于是陪着甜甜爬进那窄长园筒状迷宫通道，甜甜兴奋莫名，从此一发不可收拾。可怜我的老骨头，猫着腰跟一帮孩子在里面爬呀爬，很多家长旁观而笑。有孩子在迷宫哭闹的，就托我领孩子出宫。
During our time in Buffalo City, Ronald's Playhouse at McDonald's was our frequent haunt, with food and drink and a maze. There were always other kids, and Tanya wouldn't want to leave until she was completely exhausted. The maze at McDonald's, with its twists and turns, was a favorite among children. Tanya was initially timid, but one day, we noticed the Playhouse rules stated: And parents, too! So, I joined her in the narrow, cylindrical maze, and she was ecstatic. Poor me, crouching down and crawling with a bunch of kids, while many parents watched and laughed. When a child cried in the maze, I was often asked to help lead them out.
When traveling as a family, we'd often search for the next McDonald's on endless highways, especially when night fell and hunger struck. The golden neon 'M' sign stood tall and inviting, always offering a warm and casual welcome.
永远的麦当劳！ / Forever McDonald's!
Written on Mother's Day 2007.