Let's talk rodents. Actually, I have just one specific rodent in mind, a Mr. Chuck E. Cheeses. Just the mention of his name brings on chills and immediate dread in the hearts of parents. This rodent laughs in the face of Terminex, Cooks, even the less than legal methods some of us have been guilty of using in order to get rid of unwanted pests.
Lauren received a birthday invitation this week for a little girl in her class (and so far the only things I've heard about this child is that she cut a hole in her shirt with scissors and also that she scratched another child's face...so I'm already jumping at the chance to buy her a present). But alright, I suppose we could fit that into our Saturday. And then I see it. The location. And like a slow motion movie in my head, I'm already picturing the scene that will become my Saturday afternoon.
I will step into the purple and green themed party place known as Chuck E. Cheeses, have my hand stamped with a coordinating number as my child, and venture timidly into the world of preschool arcades and loud music. I will voluntarily give my daughter what could possibly be the only radioactive pizza in existence, oozing with so much grease I can already feel future breakouts occurring and I'm not even eating it.
Dinner entertainment will include remakes by the Beach Boys and Barney, only they will be sung by what can only be described as freaks of nature. Creatures so scary I still cannot get close enough to touch them. Honestly, who decided a huge royal purple gorilla with gold hair and other oversized critters would be easy listening artists? Their mechanical heads jerking this way and that and their creepy eyelids blinking randomly with loud clicking noises. The children will all watch wide-eyed and with one hand solidly clutching the legs of their mothers.
Next, we will be given tokens to play various games and thrilling rides. All the while I will try mightily to push away thoughts of H1N1 and other contagious diseases which seem to be lurking on each handle, knob, and ski ball, and I will NOT freak out when I see my 4-year-old lick the plastic handle to the bumblebee game.
Finally, we will trade our tickets for a precious treasure from the prize counter. Now I'm no math whiz, but by my rough estimations, the stretchy, plastic grashopper with a pink bow that my daughter chose just cost the birthday hosts a mere $19.50. Not to mention the ten minutes of soothing I will be forced to do in the parking lot when said grasshopper loses a leg and its bow-clad head falls off for no apparent reason.
After two hours or so of fun, it will be time to leave this place of magic. I will get in line with Lauren, praying that our stamped invisible numbers on our hands do actually match. I have witnessed a father trying in vain to coax his crying daughters into telling the Chuck E. employee that he really is their father so they can leave (he somehow missed the stamping of the hand and it was a very unfortunate experience for everyone...those kids knew they had power at that point).
So folks, this will be my Saturday afternoon, all for a kid I've never met. But truly, what parent wouldn't do all this and more for the sake of their child? I am just hoping she will remember this when I am elderly and just want to get out of my nursing home room for an outing to the garden. May supermoms everywhere find the courage to face Chuck E.