Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Chucky Cheese: Where a Kid Can Be a Kid With Hoof and Mouth Disease
I took Andrew and Will to Chucky Cheese this afternoon for an early dinner and, apparently, the most fun Andrew has ever had indoors in his life.
From the moment we walked through the door, it was as if he were both struck deaf and injected with speed. He really remind me of one of those contestants on a game show where the object is to pile as much stuff in the shopping cart within 90 seconds. He would just run frantically from one arcade to another, maximizing, I suppose, his exposure to germs in the most time-effective way. It was obvious that he needed to use the bathroom, but he literally would not even hear out my suggestion. Every time I began, "Andrew--" he cut me off with a staccato "nonononono!" I practically had to put him under arrest to haul him off to the bathroom before he made those filthy rides even grosser (maybe the uric acid would have had a sanitizing effect, on second though). It would not have been as gross, at least, as the vomit on the Bob the Builder digger in the toddler section.
We only ended up spending about 5 or 6 tokens. Andrew was perfectly happy to just sit in the rides and spin the wheels of unengaged arcade cars. He tried one arcade NASCAR (I selected Jimmy Johnson for him; he's the best looking) but quickly became terrified of it. I think it was too real for him. I am fairly certain that he feared actual bodily injury. The steering wheel shook and was hard to turn and I think the firey crashes he constantly engaged in (plus the firey collisions with the wall) got him a bit spooked. "NONONONONONONO!" and then "get me out of here!" I admit that I really didn't perform much better when I took over the wheel, but I hope that it was because I was holding Will.
At the end of the evening, I lost track of him. He turned up inside one of the basektball games. He was alight with pure joy. "Mommy! I climbed through a tunnel!" Tunnel = very tiny opening at the toe-end of a boot-shaped hoop game. I couldn't believe that he could fit, really. He just stood inside there and joyfully slam dunked the ball (the hoop was face-level from his position). Fortunately, after a while the ball somehow bounced out of the hoop and would smack him in the face. I say fortunately bc it meant that I had some hope of removing him. Also because he threw a really funny tantrum, so long as seeing a kid slap himself while dancing and screaming, "It hit my own face!" (referring to the ball, as opposed to his hand, which had also hit his own face).
But it did bring back memories of my own childhood, back when I thought Chucky Cheese was a classy and wonderful place. (As an adult I admit I feel a little bit disappointed that I live in a town so convenient to a C.C.) The last time I had darkened the door of a Chucky Cheese was back in the mid 80s. My parents relented and took me and my sisters there for my 8th birthday. We were all so thrilled, especially Dad. (Ok, my sisters and I were thrilled; my parents were probably present in body only). Chucky Cheese used to do it a bit differently back then. First, I think that it was geared towards birthdays (or maybe this says a lot about Child Me). Second, much more was made of Chucky's rock n' roll status. They had a stage where enormous rocker mice machines would perform, and eventually a live enormous Chucky would emerge and entertain the crowd. The highlight was when they would invite up the Birthday Kid(s) for some special attention.
On the occassion of my family birthday dinner, Chucky came out on the stage for some songs and some birthday celebration. He called up the birthday kid. I was so excited and ran up on the stage. Another little girl did the same, but I didn't mind sharing the spotlight. I do remember that Chucky seemed a bit dismissive of me, but nothing to get too sensitive about. Strangely, they only presented the other girl with a party-bag, cake and balloons, but I was perfectly happy to forgo those (I went to Catholic school, after all, and was very pious). I stood and smiled while the band sang Happy Birthday to the two of us, naming only the other girl (a minor oversight). I think it was not until years later that I realized that my parents had made no formal notification to the establishment that I was a birthday kid, too, and the whole Mouse Parade must have been thrown for a loop by this happy clueless kid that showed up on that stage. I wonder if my parents noticed how funny the situation was. Probably not. Its the Smith way.
We picked Brig up from the metro on our way home and then I promptly abandoned him with the boys while I went to a Church activity. I returned home early to discover that neither child had been bathed. After all that. And I had even given Will a lollipop for the ride home. I bathed Will quickly, but it was too late for Andrew, already in bed. Hopefully none of the bacteria will take hold during the night. Too bad C.C. hasn't created a sanitizing mist at the entrance and exit. The only thing that could possibly make that heavenly place even better.