First, let’s get this out of the way: Chuck E. Cheese is not going to be the place where any adult wants to go. Any place that features noise, bad pizza and animatronics dancing to kid’s music is not the place to be.
Having said that, I, like many other working parents, had an extra long weekend with Monday off this week. And I, like some of those other parents, ended up at Chuck E. Cheese. Basil has kept his “lucky token” ready since we moved here. He’s been asking when we’re going to go. Ginger and Violet were excited enough by the prospect of a trip that they pitched in and washed the floor over the weekend.
So, having run out of excuses and wanting to give their mother a badly needed break from child-care, I loaded the kids into the mini-van and headed out.
A fun time was had by all for relatively little money ($10 for 50 tokens split four ways [Hey, I get to play, too!]) and a refillable drink. There is enough there for kids of every age although they certainly cater to those under 13.
So while there, I noticed that there are three different kinds of parents who take their children there. When I got home, I let Alexis know (although, being a veteran Chuck-E-Cheeser [We celebrated her 22nd birthday there] she already knew the types].
- The Kid — This parent takes their child and then forgets about them while they spend hours playing video games. I suppose they aren’t too worried since Chuck E. Cheese goes through this ritual of checking that children are paired with adults leaving the establishment who are stamped with the same black-lighted number stamped on their arm.
- The Sitter — Usually obese or older, this adult brings their child, buys a pizza, and spends the time chatting up their friends. Only occasionally do they glance at the play area to check up on junior. The rest of the time they spend wishing they could buy beer and cigarettes. (Come to think of it, I’m sure you could make a fortune by copying Chuck E. Cheese’s format and introducing a full-service bar.)
- The Parent — Someone who actually interacts with his child once they pass through the turnstile. The kid is having fun, and sometimes a little whack-a-mole can offer stress-relief. Hey, maybe that fire-fighting game would be okay, too. Mostly, though these people seem to understand that Chuck E. Cheese provides something more than just an opportunity to forget your kids for a while.
So, I told all this to Alexis and she asked me “So, which are you?” To which I responded with an incredulous look. She should know by now that I’m a great parent!
Not satisfied, she turned to Basil. “Where was Daddy while you were at Chuck E. Cheese?”
Seeing his chance to air his complaint, he turned on the “pity me” dramatics. “Mama, I looked for him, but I couldn’t find him!”
Alexis grew alarmed: “Did you tell any store people?”
“No, but I called out for him and he didn’t answer.”
“Where was he?” Since, obviously, we had found each other.
“Oh”, he said, turning sheepish. “He was right behind me.”