Even as adults we all have things we know we shouldn’t do, but we do them anyway. For some people it might be having one more drink at a bar, calling an ex-boyfriend, or eating a third piece of cake. For me it is going to Chuck E. Cheese. Deep down I know I shouldn’t do it, but it always seems like a good idea at the time.
Today I had a meeting for my new job. My supervisor told me to bring the kids with me, so I did. After the meeting it was about 1:00 and they hadn’t eaten lunch. They had both been so good for the hour and a half I was meeting with Marie. (That was mainly due to the fact that we held the meeting in the childcare room with a plethora of toys geared toward their age group) Chuck E. Cheese was only about a mile up the road and we were going to drive right by it on the way home. We were supposed to go last week and I had to cancel at the last minute and disappoint Nicholas. It was the perfect storm. I caved.
Now, I should state for the record that I actually have nothing against Chuck E. Cheese itself. I’m not afraid of the germs, and actually the one here in York is very clean. The noise doesn’t bother me. I do not have a problem organizing groups of children. I’ve organized huge groups of elementary school children on field trips, after all. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the way that the over-stimulation has a counter intuitive way of calming down my hyper three-year-old boy because of his sensory issues.
But I made a few mistakes this time. First, I decided that it would be too cumbersome to lug our double stroller around inside between all the rides and games. That was dumb. Totally should have brought it. Instead I chased Nicholas around for an hour and a half with a 20 pound baby hanging off my hip like a limp noodle.
Second, I actually tried to sit down and have a meal with my children. Twenty minutes after we arrived and ordered our food (one individual size pizza to split 3 ways) it was delivered to our table. That meant that I had to pull poor Nicholas away from the roller coaster simulation game, which resulted in mega-meltdown #1. I forced him to sit at the booth, screaming at the top of his lungs, red tear-streaked face and all, while I calmly said Grace and started feeding the baby. Eventually he did come around and eat with us.
Third, I did not attempt to discipline other people’s children. There were only about 10 kids in the entire place since it was a Tuesday afternoon. They were all under adult supervision. Some kids even had more than one adult with them. And yet, there was one little boy (And let me just say that there were three adults with this kid. Three. Just with him. He did not have any sibling there.) who was just roaming around following Nick. That would be ok, except this kid was about two years old and none of the three adults with him were paying any attention to him at all. His mother was playing ski ball in an entirely different section and his grandparents occasionally playing games to win him (or themselves) tickets and occasionally just being lazy and sitting in a booth talking amongst themselves. I felt bad for him so I didn’t say anything when this little boy climbed onto a moving ride that Nicholas was on. After the ride was over I pointed him to his mom, who totally didn’t seem to care that she didn’t know where he was.
Then there was another little girl who was about three. Her mom wasn’t paying a lick of attention either. She rode about 5 rides that I gave her money for (There was no way Nick would use 50 tokens by himself) . That was followed by an “Oops, I poked your baby.” and a trip over to us while we were eating to shove a piece of pizza in Abby’s mouth. (I did say something to her about that.) Seriously, people. Watch your children. I should have said something to their parents, or at least to the staff.
But the real drama came when we were finally out of tokens and needed to leave. That was an all out throw-myself-on-the-floor-scream-hit-my-mom-hide-between-the-coin-machine-so-you-can-reach-me kind of tantrum, which was followed by a run-away-from-you-in-the-parking-lot kind of tantrum, which was followed by a scream-all-the-way-home kind of tantrum, which was followed by an I’m-not-taking-a-nap-I’m-just-going-to-scream-some-more-so-my-sister-can’t-nap-either kind of tantrum after we got home. (Mega meltdowns 2-5, if you will) I may or may not have said something along the lines of “If you value your life you will get in that fire truck bed right now.” If I said it it didn’t work because there are still two screaming children in my house as I type this, despite the fact that we have been home for over an hour.
No, I should not go to Chuck E. Cheese ever again. And yet I know I will.