This weekend I did what I vowed I’d never to do. (Hanging head in shame.) But the pressure just became too much. It was too constant and then my mother-in-law became involved and imparted even more pressure. Sometimes you have to choose your battles and I was just too overwhelmed from all angles. Yes, I did it. I took my kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s. (Turning head and sobs.)
You may wonder what I have against this place where a Kid Can Be A Kid. You may think I’m being foolish to deny my kids this basic childhood memory. But have you seen all the news articles about the horrors that happen at this place? What about the family feud at the birthday party? Or the one about the poor little girl left behind? Or the 50-year-old grandmother beaten while attending her grandson’s birthday? Dude, seriously? No thanks. If I want my children exposed to the inhumanity of our existence I will read them the Bible.
But Bud has seen the commercials (damn you successful marketing strategies!) and whenever we drive by our local establishment (and by local I mean 40 minutes away where we do all our shopping) he begs and pleads that it’s all he’s ever wanted to do (!!!). Then! Then it happened. His grandma nonchalantly suggested that she might take Babe and their cousin (same age as Babe) to visit Chuck. Cue meltdown. And cue grandmotherly guilt. Grandma promised she wouldn’t take Babe without him. Wonderful. Only problem is he is in school all day and the point of taking Babe was to have something to do during the day when she watches the girls. Cue parental guilt. Increase parental guilt when my husband said “Oh come on, it won’t be that bad.” Sigh. I seem to be outnumbered. I did try to weasel my way out of it in one last-ditched attempt. You see, my mother-in-law has a very strong Mama Bear tendency that extends to each member of her family. So I laid out my hesitations concluding with, “See, do you want to subject your grandkids to this?” Unfazed by my attempts she said “That doesn’t happen around here.” Damn. Foiled again!
I gave this much thought in the coming days and finally worked out my plan of attack. We’d go on Sunday. The Lord’s day. Certainly He wouldn’t let mayhem and calamity befall us on His day! I determined that we’d do a little bit of shopping beforehand and not let the kids know where we were going but that they had to be good the whole time otherwise they wouldn’t get the surprise. (I am not above blackmail.) The
17 1 ½ hours we spent picture
frame shopping was a real test to their desire of the unknown surprise. They
held up remarkably well. Well done kidlets. Well done.
Finally, after spending way more money on picture frames than I’ve ever spent before, I could hold out no longer. Cue doomsday music. On the way there we intended to keep the surprise to ramp up the effect of pulling in the parking lot (yes, we are evil like that). We told them they would be very excited. Bud said he just hoped it wasn’t a restaurant. Of course this made us chuckle. We asked why a restaurant wouldn’t be exciting, wasn’t he hungry? He said no, he was definitely not hungry (liar) and that he’d really rather just go home. My husband, underestimating successful marketing strategies, said “Don’t you want to go to a place where a kid can be a kid?” Cue high-pitched little girl screams (from Bud of course). Later my husband said he didn’t expect Bud to get the reference. Really? Sigh. Anyway, happiness and excitement ensued.
We went in the door and entered into the cordoned off entry area that only highly trained personal
or short people can bypass. The velvet
ropes. And no one was manning the turret, I mean bouncer hostess
station. Now what? (Oh, I should also mention that I am not a fan of going into
new situations where I don’t know what to expect or what is expected of me.
Give me details in advance please.) I didn’t anticipate needing instructions to
experience Chuck. I definitely didn’t expect a gated entrance. My husband and I
looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?” Thankfully the bouncer hostess
came over fairly quickly wielding her stamper. A stamper? Entrance into Chuck
E. Cheese requires a hand stamp much like the bar I went to in college. Excellent.
Shall we walk through the metal detector’s next? Thankfully they didn’t find
that step necessary (perhaps they should reconsider?). She ushered us through
the ropes and left us standing there not sure what to do next. Do we get a
table? Do we order at the fast-food looking counter? Where are my details??
The kids instantly hit the games and rides. Babe mostly stuck to the car rides and the games of chance (pull the lever and push the button to see how many tickets you win) but Bud explored everything. My husband and I? We schooled the kids on skee ball
when they allowed us to use one of their
Overall, it was a fun time and, thankfully, there was no mayhem or calamity. I do think most of that has to do with being there on a Sunday. There was one birthday party going on and that was it (no family feud in sight). When those kids did the cake thing Bud and Babe had the place entirely to themselves. Can’t complain about that! What I will complain about is the prize picking process. But that’s a whole ‘nother post!
So there was no gun violence or kidnap victims (that I know of). Is it weird that I’m a little disappointed?