On my list of things I never need to do again: Chuck E. Cheese, where a kid can be overwhelmed and the parents can be completely skeeved. Jeff and I were supposed to have date night tonight, but our sitter cancelled so we figured we'd come up with a family outing. Since it's raining and cool here, the park was out and we somehow settled upon a first trip to the magical arcade we both remembered from our childhood.
After about two minutes, I realized why my parents didn't offer to take me more often when I was a kid. That place is miserable. Now I'm sure that some are better than others, depending on the local clientele and the day you go and the time you get there, etc., etc. but I'll never be going back to find out if ours has a "better time." It was so loud that when Jeff said something about it reminding him of the eighties, I thought he'd said we were in Hades. Of course he was right either way.
Wyatt actually enjoyed the pizza but all he really wanted to do was crawl through the giant rat tubes that ran through the center of the place above all the games. Jeff made up something about how they weren't letting kids his age or size or maybe both into the tubes and that we'd have to save that for "next time." Wyatt, bless his sweet three-year-old heart, looked mildly dejected but then conceded the tubes. We spent our time (and tokens because we brilliantly bought a coupon package deal) at skee ball and the duck punch game. We came away with 91 tickets, which translated to five miniature tootsie pops and a plastic dragonfly.
The most disturbing things about Chuck E. Cheese today:
1. Chuck E. Cheese is a rat - a really large, perpetually smiling rat - who sings to kids and hawks pizza. Whose brainchild was that and why does it seem to work? He's like the antithesis of the old Pied Piper or something.
2. Grown men (and we're talking large, muscular men) competitively playing arcade games with their four-year olds because they want to max out their tickets and win the *awesome* Chuck E. Cheese prizes. I mean, haven't you always wanted a gumball machine or a giant four square ball with the rat on it?
3. The little girl who was lost for at least ten minutes. She wandered by our table once crying and alone, the next time she was with a staff member and still crying. Seriously? Who takes their kid someplace like that and doesn't become more mindful of where their child is? This girl's parents were obviously not searching like mad for her.
4. The children (eleven years old, maybe?) who were crawling up the skee ball ramp to reach under the plexiglas and hand place their balls into the 50,000 point ring so they could get a billion tickets. It's disturbing because their parents were encouraging it.
5. The five-year old boy who, when Wyatt accidentally cut in front of him to play yet another round of skee ball, got in Wyatt's face and said, "hey, boy!" in a tone sounding suspiciously like gang members in a bad movie. Nothing like going toe to toe with a kindergartener.
6. The woman who rolled in wearing a spandex, zebra print shirt and skinny jeans (both a few sizes too small) with her zebra striped stilettos and bright red lipstick.
7. The copious amounts of kids running all over the entire arcade barefoot. It's worse than grocery store feet, it's Chuck E. Cheese feet.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some of the other parents were thinking the same things we were. I could tell by the deer in headlights look in their eyes. But the rest of them? They were there to get their money's worth from the rat. I'm seriously hoping that Wyatt will erase that place from his mind; I wish I could fully erase it from mine.