Friday, January 13, 2012

Popping My Chuck E. Cheese Cherry

Somehow I managed to make it through nearly 8 years of parenthood without having ever crossing the threshold of a Chuck E. Cheese. But that all changed last weekend. Audrey was invited to the birthday party of one of the boys in her self-contained classroom at this notorious establishment.

Everybody has to experience it at least once, right? I just crossed my fingers and prayed that all we would come away with was blog material, and not, say, an antibiotic-resistant strain of dysentery.

The one handy part about being a total pessimist/cynic/mortal dreader of everyone and everything, is that things are sometimes not as bad as you thought they'd be. And this was definitely true for Chuck E. Cheese. I actually didn't think it was that bad.

It was, of course, the definition of sensory overload, and it took Audrey a while to acclimate to the combination of hordes of noisy kids, flashing lights and noises from the arcade games, an animatronic band of costumed animals, blaring music and video screens, and the sweet, sweet smell of all that pizza and cheesy bread.

Plus, she was seeing classmates outside of their usual context, which always freaks her out. But besides Audrey and Chris, the birthday boy, there was just the famous Jack in attendance. So it was a small party. According to Chris' mom, Chris said that Audrey is his girlfriend. Given that she's the only girl in a class with 9 boys, I think she's everyone's girlfriend.
Party of three
I couldn't get Audrey to stay in one place for long enough to play many of the arcade games. She did like one that sketched your portrait....

The Three Faces of Cheese

I asked her what she was so worried about in the picture on the right, and she thought that was hilarious. Now she keeps looking at it and saying, "What was she so worried about?" while laughing her head off.

Everyone told me that kids tend to be mortally afraid of The Master of Ceremonies when he finally makes his appearance. My nieces, who are now 16 and 20, have still not gotten over their fear of costumed creatures. I guess that's one way to ensure your kid doesn't become one of those weirdo plushy fetishists. There's little that doesn't cause Audrey anxiety, but somehow she was not afraid of Chuck E.

Future plushy   ^^

And of course it's not a party until Audrey smells your cake...

When it was finally time for the big finale and singing "Happy Birthday", I think the birthday boy reflected the feelings of many of past, present, and future birthday honorees...


  1. I will have to add "no Chuck E. Cheese" to my Top 10 Things That are Great About Having a Teenager list! I had forgotten that one.

    By the way, do they still have the giant Habitrail tubes all over the place? My kid loved those, but getting him out of there when it was time to go was pure hell.

    Glad she liked it :)

    1. Hey look Blogger has threaded commenting now so I don't have to do my tedious little @ stuff like I did below. Kick ass!

  2. That is awesome. Katie likes the photo sketch thingy too. Don't know why. Ours also has one that makes little photo ID type cards for different "clubs" and such. Katie spent a lot of tokens on that one. Luckily, Chuck E. Cheese has been our friend. The hubby and I take Katie every year for her birthday and we have since she was 2. Maybe because it's just the three of us it's been okay for her. Glad Audrey had such a good time. Isn't it great seeing our kiddos enjoy themselves?

  3. lol awww poor kid!

    Hubs hates that place with a passion lol I loved taking the kids there. And, they loved going!! Of course we'd have to come home and decontaminate our bodies.. i knew we could go there and exhaust them and come home and crash. It was great! lol As Tommy got older, he HATED that damn mouse. Congrats and making it through the experience lol

  4. My neighbor loved that place and always took her kids there when her husband was traveling. I didn't understand until I found out that they serve beer!

  5. Hey, can I smell your cake?

    Wow, that's just wrong, but somehow I just had to.

    Glad you made it out of mouse hell in one piece, and with no reported new virus strains.

  6. I'm still a CEC virgin--and proud to admit it!

    Possible captions for your pics:

    Pic 1) What are they carrying on that plate?
    Pic 2) Oh, it's cake! I like cake!
    3) WHy does it smell like feet?

  7. OMG, I'm still laughing at your title. I haven to stepped foot in that horrible mouse haven and Alex is 8. I fear I may not be so lucky with the girls being younger but as God as my witness, I will die trying to stay out of that place.

    PS--Glad Audrey had fun. And I hope the birthday boy was OK, he looked a little traumatized. I think I'd be scared too if that big mouse came at me....

  8. Lynn, you need to bring Audrey out here. Dan takes the kids there often, and I stay home (See where I'm going with this? We can stay here and have a glass of wine and watch Toddlers and Tiaras. Or maybe that's just me who likes that kind of thing.) Everytime they come home, someone gets a case of "the tubes" from playing in that overhead tube system, as in, "Erin just had a really bad diaper. Must be a case of 'the tubes.'" It's totally worth it (to me!)

    Also, I took the kids to the park out here last summer, and they were filming an episode of "My Secret Addiction" (or whatever it's called) at the park, and the addiction was being a "furry." (The furry rode on the see saw and skipped through the park. She lived in a neighboring suburb.) They asked me to sign a release in case my kids (and the neighbor kids I had with me) ended up in the episode, and I DID IT!! I have no standards, clearly. And I'm willing to take the neighbor kids down with us! I took pictures-but that goes without saying.

  9. @Lily @no way: They had one small-ish habitrail thing that she did not go in...and I think that's the single reason that she's managed to stay healthy. So far. What's the incubation period for a case of "the tubes"?

    Also @no way: I'm sure Dan would appreciate that you are offering this up. Isn't there some sort of maximum # of kids that can share your hand-stamp? Love the furry story...did it ever air? That is hilarious...I hope your kids got some screen time with the furry.

    @Becky: It really was much better than I thought it'd be. I think I had the impression that they were just for parties, but this may actually be an activity that I keep in mind for a rainy day...and I never thought I'd say that.

    @Rhonda: I guess Tommy doesn't pass the size restrictions now :)

    @Kathy: I saw lots of parents happily chowing down on hot wings...didn't notice the beer. I was also surprised to see a salad bar that I'm sure would not at all test positive for fecal matter.

    @Flannery: We are 5 days removed and no outbreaks of ebola.

    @TSOT: Perfect.

    @Lizbeth: The birthday boy's reaction gave me horrible flashbacks. On Audrey's FIRST birthday, she flipped out when everyone sang Happy Birthday. I should have known then.

  10. The summer I was working as a day camp teacher for an inner city mission in Pittsburgh we took the grades K-3 to Chuck E Cheese. That was about 60-70 kids to 5 adults and 4 unhappy teenage assistants. I gave my teenage assistant one job and one job only - guard the exit. I detest the Cheese and have refused to take my own niece, telling her that it might be fun today but she won't like it puking tomorrow. I would rather spend a few bucks on party favors or a prize than $30 so she can win enough tickets for a spider ring and a blow pop.

  11. My son does the smell thing. It can come in handy in public as a way to know when he has pooped his pants. We know a trip to the bathroom is in order whenever he stands up, reaches back to touch his butt and then smells his hand. Another tip off is when he gets up and then bends over to smell the seat he just got up from. The stares from those around us is priceless.

    1. Ugh. Audrey doesn't that when she hasn't even pooped. So disgusting. I think to her a chocolate cake smells just as good as her butt.

  12. My favorite part is Audrey smelling the cake...who doesn't want a close sniff of chocolate?!

    The boys are looking at the pictures and deeming Audrey pretty brave...there might be some hesitation on their part to get too close to good old Chuck...but you didn't hear that from me. ;)

    Way to get out there and try something new, Lynn!

    1. Tell the boys to clear their calendar for an April party :)

  13. I like the new commenting threads...very high tech!

  14. Isn't it cool? I'm going to reply to every comment. And then reply to my reply.

    1. Oops...except I might have screwed this one up.

  15. I still think Chuck E. Cheese is the 5th circle of hell. I have never taken my kids there and I doubt I ever will since there is none around us. But also because there is no way my senses could handle it, let alone theirs.

    It looks like the kids had a great time, though. Love the picture of Audrey smelling the cake!

  16. I cal Chuck E Cheese "Hell." Ours doesn't even serve beer. I've heard some do. They should all serve alcohol, but maybe that's my own sensory overload talking. Ours is out of the way, and there was a time when the police were called in several times in the span of a few months for parental fights. We told the boys it closed. The new kid fetish here is the indoor bounce house place - Monkey Joe's. Slightly better since there are no tickets and prizes to deal with, but still caused an hour of triage when we returned home this weekend.

    Love the cake smelling picture, and the birthday boy melting down. That's a true party.

  17. We had Katie's 5th bday at CEC. It was horrible. She hid under a table and ended up really pissed off b/c at one point they just threw a shit load of tickets in the air, and someone stepped on her hand while she was trying to get some, then she got none. All of CEC heard my kid screaming after that. The problem is K thinks she likes it, yet it is a sensory meltdown when we go. I have avoided being back in several years, and hoping to keep it that way.

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