Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time to Go to Chuck-E-Oh NOOOOOOO!

Last Saturday my husband Bob and I found ourselves on a Pennsylvania Turnpike trek to attend my 6-year old niece Amy's birthday party.  The festivities were scheduled to take place at a type of indoor facility known and recognized by parents across the globe.

These places have names like:

Run Around Like a Lunatic-n-Play
Give Mom Valium So She Can Handle the Noise-n-Play

You get the idea.

As I watched in delight as Amy and her friends tumbled through the tubes at Touch-n-Play, I thought of my own daughter Melissa, now 15, at home studying for mid-terms.  Or should I say that's what I instructed her to do when we bid her a fond farewell and she expressed her regret at missing the party.  In reality, there's a good chance that her afternoon consisted of the following schedule:

1. Text.
2. Play guitar.
2. Text.
3. Go on Facebook.
3. Text.
4. Go on Youtube.
4. Text.
5. Play more guitar.
7. Attempt to study.
8. Nap.

The days of visiting Barf-n-Play with my toddler in tow are long gone, as I have become fully emerged in the world of my high school freshman.

But oh, such horrible fond memories.   My precious four-year old cherub, jumping with delight at the arrival of a post card inviting her to a party at that dreaded wonderful play land called...


The drill went something like this.

1. Walk through the doors with an overexcited pre-schooler, who is then forced to stop to get her hand stamped by an annoyed teen who was probably cursing his mother for making him get a job to pay for his car insurance.

2. Walk around 42,000 beeping video games, jump out of the way of 6,710 screaming toddlers, grab your child's hand to prevent her from prematurely joining the 6,710 screaming toddlers, hurdle over 9,604 tables topped with tiny tots obliviously asleep in their portable car seats, and finally, enter the "PARTY ROOM" nestled way in the back of Chuck-E-Oh NOOOOOOO.

3. Scan the 207, football field-sized tables in the PARTY ROOM, in search of your daughter's friend.

4. Attempt to tune out the animated video blaring at 600,000 decibels on a 97,000 inch TV screen.

5. Climb over 2,706 laughing, screaming, crying, pizza, and hot dog-eating children on your way to the table playing host to your daughter's friend.

6. Greet the mother of your daughter's friend with a conversation that goes something like this:

Mother: "I'm so glad Melissa could make it."

Me: "WHAT?"

Mother: "It was so nice of Melissa to come."

Me: "WHAT?"

Mother: "Would Melissa like pizza or a hot dog?"

Me: "WHAT?"

7. Take off your daughter's coat, hand the gift to the mother.

Mother: "Thank you so much for the gift!"

Me: "WHAT?"

8. Scan the football field-sized tables in search of a place to sit.

9. Pat yourself on the back for remembering to wear supportive sneakers as you sigh in defeat, and stand for the next two hours.

10. Suddenly the lights go dim, the music stops, and a 16-year old cheerleader-in-training grabs a megaphone and announces the impending arrival of the biggest celebrity to hit the pre-school circuit since Barney.  Yes, you guessed it!  CHUCK-E-OH NOOOOOOOO! (Another annoyed teen in a rodent custom, secretly cursing his parents for making him get a job to pay for car insurance.)

11. Watch your daughter's face light up with delight as Chuck-E-OH NOOOOOOOO makes his entrance.

12. Watch your daughter cry as she realizes that Chuck-E-OH NOOOOOO only gives attention to the children with official birthdays and treats the other party-goers as second class citizens.

13. Nearly knock over a pitcher of Sprite attempting to climb over the other disappointed children in an effort to comfort your cherub.

14. Successfully reach your cherub, only to discover that she is now happily eating cake and holding a cup full of tokens, which she will soon use to play one of the many stupid challenging video games.

15. Panic as your daughter gets swept up in the throngs of kids, rushing to be the first to reach all of the stupid really cool video games.

16. Continue to panic.

17. Continue to panic.

18. Continue to panic.

19. Finally locate your child.

20. Swallow two Tylenol.

21. Follow your child around and around and around, and feign delight as she hands you all of her tickets each time she plays one of the stupid fabulous video games.

22. Get in line with your daughter behind 4,872 children who are all bursting with delight at the prospect of turning in their tickets for stupid exciting prizes.

23. Curse under your breath as the two teenagers who have been assigned to exchange the tickets for prizes move slower than rush hour traffic.

24. Curse under your breath at the 4,872 children who each take at least four hours to decide on their stupid incredible prize.

Teenager:  "What do you want?

Five-year old: "Um, how much are the stickers?"

Teenager: "50 tickets. Yawn."

Five-year old: "I have this many, can I get the stickers?"

Teenager: "You only have 25 tickets, so no you can't get the stickers. Yawn."

Five-year old: "How much is the spider ring?"

Teenager: "50 tickets. Yawn."

Five-year old: "I have this many, can I get the spider ring?"


25. Take two more Tylenol.

Four hours later..............

27. Admire with delight at the stupid key chain your daughter exchanged for 29 tickets.

28. Say goodbye.

Mother: "Thank you for coming!  Did Melissa have a good time?"

Me: "WHAT?"

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  1. In the earlier days (around 20 years ago) Up-Chuck-Cheese sold beer. It truly made the occasion tollerable for the adults held hostage by the evil rodent's charms. I seriously almost wept the day we hit the door and I stopped to order on our way to the table only to discover they no longer offered adult comfort.
    Evil buggers!

  2. This had me laughing out loud. Hysterical! I only went to one birthday at that dreaded place - there wasn't one near us, so it was a drive. I can only hope that it has gone out of business by the time I have kids. Whatever happened to sleepover birthday parties with crafts and movies?

  3. It reminds me the good years when the kids were little. But also all the birthday parties I had to take them to chuck-cheese and having to run after the kids yelling most of it because they couldn't really hear us parents calling or trying to give them any directions. So glad my are teens now.
    Great blog, Lisa.