You see, this isn't any old restaurant I'm talking about. It's THE restaurant. The one that strikes fear into the heart of parents everywhere. Oh yes, I mean the Rodent's Pizza Place, better known as.............
Chuck E. Cheese's.
Yes, Mr. Cheese's building of doom has been the Final Frontier for us as parents. We've managed to live 4 minutes away from one of the two area locations and raise a child for the past 5 and a half years without ever darkening the mouse's door. I confess that I gloated a wee bit in the car on Saturday, smug in my Cheese-less existence. After all, this is the place which has caused far wittier bloggers than I to rave on (rather hilariously) about the nightmare that it is:
A chaotic sugar-fueled germ-fest of shoeless children running amok amidst clanging game machines and miserable parents.
You know what's coming, don't you? You guessed it - I totally jinxed myself. Not 48 hours after my saying the words aloud, Kiddo came bouncing off the school bus and tore open her backpack, pulling out a small, square envelope and brandishing it aloft.
"What's that, honey?" I asked, still not hearing the warning bell....
"It's a BIRTHDAY PARTY, Mom! And it's at -"
I opened the card and read the words at the exact same time that she said the words, oh, the dreaded words....
"CHUCK E. CHEESE'S!!!!"
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as the words stared me in the face. Karma is an evil mistress, is she not? Needless to say, this clearly was the talk of the kindergarten class today. The birthday boy is one of the kids Kiddo plays with regularly, at least per her reporting at the dinner table. (Kiddo prefers to play "Superhero Spies" with two of the boys rather than play "Girl Scouts" with the majority of the girls. She is usually Batman but sometimes she gets to be Spiderman. Please bear in mind that she has never seen a single minute of any TV show or movie about said superheros. I can only imagine what she thinks they are or do...)
So, I'm torn. You see, the party is at 6pm on a weeknight. It goes until 7:30, which is a half hour past Kiddo's normal bedtime. She's usually in her jammies by 6:00. But, again, the birthday boy is one of Kiddo's friends, and it is close to our home. We could conceivably go to the party (it says that an adult MUST accompany the child to the party) and still have her home and in bed not too much past her bedtime. With her SPD, we try to keep her on as strict a routine as possible; it just makes things go a lot more smoothly. This could potentially throw her out of whack for two or three days thereafter.
And, you know, it's at the mouse's (or is he a rat? No, he must be a mouse - a rat doesn't make for good marketing for, you know, a place that serves food, though I don't think a mouse is that much better...).
Oh, who am I kidding - we'll most likely be going. I'll RSVP yes and then as long as Kiddo is doing okay otherwise that day (isn't sick or out of sync or having a bad day), we'll go.
Yep, we'll go (and by we I totally mean Hubby), all right, and Kiddo will find out what she's been missing all these years, and will finally know how badly she's been deprived. One more thing she'll have to talk to her future therapist about... I asked Kiddo "So, what is Chuck E. Cheese's, anyway?" Her answer: "Ummm.... it's a store with cakes in it." Yes indeed, major therapy bills in our future. She'll see those games, the ball pit, the chance to win tickets and trade them for prizes, and she'll figure out how close we live (she's said hello to Chuck's picture, there on the front of the building, at least a hundred times as we've driven past over the years) and she'll know. And it will all be over. Dagnabit.
At least we made it five and a half good, CEC-free years...!