Sorry, dear blogosphere friends, I know I left you hanging as I headed off to Chuck E. Cheese's for the big birthday party last night with promises to blog about it upon my safe return. One thing led to another and I haven't had a moment to blog until right now. See, I'm staying up well past my usual bedtime just for the sake of blogging - that's dedication, right there. (Shhh, no, it is NOT addiction, hush now. I type really fast and will be in bed in no time! Really!)
Anyhow, before the major catastrophe crisis to end all crises happened to me earlier today, I meant to post an update on how things went. (Okay, in the Grand Scheme of things, it wasn't that big a deal. I mean, no one wound up in the hospital or anything. It's just that this Big, Fantabulous Photo-related Project I was working on online which is to be a Christmas present for several Very Important Friends-n-Relations disappeared into cyberspace, even after I diligently saved each and every page the very second I was done laying it out. Hours upon hours of work down the drain in a millisecond. I was very much the opposite of calm about it, and I said many very bad words. Okay, shouted them, in the general direction of my computer, who was all "Dude, it wasn't ME!" Eventually, after doing major detective work just to track down a phone number and then fighting my way through the options menu to get a real, live person, I was told that my "concerns and issues would be escalated to the digital photo department" and that they'd hopefully get back to me "in three business days" but *giggle giggle whoops, switch back to a sympathetic voice* "I can't guarantee that, they're really swamped! If it is any consolation..." and no, it was NOT!, "the web site has been having problems ALL day because it is just having too much traffic. So you're not alone! *giggle giggle*"
I ultimately wound up stomping about the house and snapping at everyone who dared cross my path, then calming down, apologizing for my pissy behavior and getting back on the computer (Heather's computer desk chair: "Noooooooo, not again! CREEEEEAK!") and finding an alternative site upon which I completed my project in an even more fantabulous way than I could've on the original site, AND there was a sale plus free shipping to boot. Long tangent slightly shorter, the gifts are all done and hopefully, hopefully, HOPEFULLY will arrive before Christmas. They're *estimated* to arrive between 12/19 and 12/24, so my fingers are now crossed that they'll come much closer to the 12/19 date, as we have get-togethers planned starting the 20th for which I'll kinda need them!)
Whew, that was one long tangent. Anyhoo, the birthday party. I should start off by saying that Kiddo had a great, great time. I was a bit nervous because she was complaining of being tired well before 5:30, and the party didn't even start until 6pm (by which time she's usually done with her bath and eating dinner in her jammies). I told her that we would go for a little while and if she was too tired, she could let me know and we'd go home right away. Of course you and I both know there was no way she would want to leave once she actually crossed the mouse's threshold...
And lo and behold, the magical Second Wind blew across her tired-out sails even as I was putting the car in park right in front. By the time we got to the door, she was bouncing with glee. She spotted one of her friends (who had on the cutest dress, tights and shoes - could I convince Kiddo to change out of the pants and shirt she'd worn to school yesterday? No, I sadly could not. Dagnabit.) right in the entrance and away they scampered as soon as we'd been stamped with our matching numbers.
One of the other moms told me that this particular CEC is smaller than the other locations in town. I am not sorry about that. Let me tell you, however crazy it may feel to you to take your average kid into such an establishment, well, it is that much more crazy when your kid has SPD. For real - Kiddo ramped up into high gear instantly and could not stay still. She couldn't even finish a single game (not even for the magic tickets), she was so worked up. She bounced around like a pinball right up until they paged us because the food was ready. Which was about the same time that she is typically upstairs, all calmed down and with a full belly, brushing her teeth. I spotted the pitchers of soda on the table and quickly checked with the waitress about getting some water. Not a problem - I could help myself at the soda fountain. Kiddo doesn't drink soda, and even if she did, I'm not sure that giving her caffeine at that hour of the night would do anyone any good. She was still so hyped up that she barely ate, and pepperoni pizza - even the grease-laden, not terribly appetizing looking pizza that Mr. Cheese served - is one of her favorite foods EVER, so for her to not eat one measly slice (she ate about 3/4 of a slice with much urging on from me) was a good indicator of her excitement level. There was a bit more running around, then it was time for the official birthday party stuff. Chuck E (in what appeared to be the second string costume - I'm assuming they save the "good" one for the weekends...) came out and did a whole song-n-dance that I'm sure most of you can imagine if you haven't witnessed it in person as I now have been lucky enough to do. Kiddo was especially excited when Chuck led a parade around the dining area. Kiddo loves a parade, any parade. She lives for parades, so no one rain on hers, 'kay? (Ooooh, I must be tired - I'm dropping Barbra Streisand song lyrics here. Dedication, I tell you. Pure and utter dedication.) When Chuck E had paraded them back around to the table, the birthday cake appeared. It was made up of cupcakes, each slathered with approximately two cups of vibrantly-colored frosting.
Now, with the SPD, we've kept an extra eye on what goes into Kiddo's body. We've noticed over the years that certain things send her more out of sync than others. Highly processed foods, for example. Foods with a lot of sugar or caffeine (hello, soda!) are another example. Another biggie is certain food dyes. The brighter/deeper the dye, the more likely it is to throw Kiddo out of whack. I had a mild moment of panic, therefore, when I saw the cupcakes being passed out. I had a quick word with Kiddo and explained to her that I needed to remove some of the frosting because it was bad for her body, took a napkin and removed about 99.9% of it. Crisis averted. Kiddo barely took more than three bites of her cupcake anyhow, before she was off scampering around once more.
When Kiddo is nearing what Hubby and I call "the wall" (as in "wow, didn't see that wall coming but she sure hit it hard, didn't she?") there are certain warning signs that a trained Mommy can spot. Her color starts to drain. She starts getting belligerent. By about ten after seven, she was heading straight for the wall. I decided we ought to hit the road at that point. She gave me some mild drama about putting on her coat, but thankfully rallied long enough to hug her friend the birthday boy goodbye, thank him and his parents politely for inviting her, and wave to the rest of her friends as we headed out. (She did hit the wall majorly while in the shower a short while later - I would've just put her straight to bed but she had cupcake smooshed in her hair, and that would've been even worse to deal with after sleeping on/in it overnight. Not that I wasn't glad for the chance to scrub her a la the decontamination scene in Silkwood.... I also wielded my bottle of Purell with total abandon, but still I felt a clenching in my stomach each time Kiddo sneezed this afternoon.........)
As we backed out of our parking spot (me with a raging headache coming on from the combination of the noise and lights, the chasing after Kiddo with extra-stress from trying to both keep a close eye on her to keep her safe plus watch her excitement level with the SPD, plus not eating any dinner myself - there was plenty of pizza for the adults but it all had pepperoni which I cannot eat) I was just wanting to get home, knowing a meltdown was very likely in my near future. Kiddo looked at her friends wistfully through the giant windows in the front of the building, still merrily playing inside. (Yes, one does feel a stab of guilt in such situations, but one has to do what is best for one's child, even when it sucks to be the grown-up in such a case.) She then said to me "Gee, Mom, Chuck E. Cheese is SUCH a fun place to go! I can't wait to go back there again!" I replied "Well, hopefully you'll get invited to another birthday party there some day" (while adding in my head "and Daddy will be home to take you to it so I don't have to go again myself...") Kiddo said "Oh.... Chuck E. Cheese is ONLY for birthday parties?" I was psyched - my big escape clause! I found the loophole! One tiny parental fib and I'm free of CEC until the next invite! Woo! As I was opening my mouth to speak, I glanced back at Kiddo in the rearview mirror. She looked positively crestfallen. I relented - a little bit - and said "Well, mostly it is for birthday parties." I then changed the subject to the upcoming visit from the Tooth Fairy (Kiddo's second tooth is outta there!) and we pulled into our driveway, home again, home again, jiggety jig. Oh, and the magic tickets? I'd been sticking them in my pocket and Kiddo totally missed the humongous display case of crap - I mean prizes - she could've traded them in for, because she was just so worked up over everything, and I do not feel one bit guilty about not pointing the display case out to her on our way out. I handed off the tickets to one of the other moms and away we went.
So, if I don't have to set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese for another 36 years and 361 days, I'll be perfectly content. If I do, at least now I know exactly what to expect. I'll also know to eat something *before* I go. They sure don't do their business thanks to the gourmet food, do they... The leftover hamburger pot pie was ever so much more delicious than Chuck's dinner options, and it was consumed in the quiet of my own home where the only twinkling lights were those on my Christmas tree.
I should mention that I am very proud of how well Kiddo kept herself together. I'm sure to the other kids' parents, I looked like some helicoptering, hovering, overprotective shrew, shadowing Kiddo's every move instead of standing over at the end of the table chatting with the other grown-ups, but Kiddo comes first and I had to do what I had to do, which in this case was exactly what I did. So I won't be part of the cool moms' club for another year, such is life. Kiddo did a really great job of trying to keep herself calm, of listening to me and mostly behaving well, especially given the setting. I'm proud of how she didn't ask for soda and was perfectly content to drink water. I'm proud of how she would take a piece of fruit any day over the most delicious looking sweet dessert. (Something I can't say I'm capable of doing myself... Confirmation from my desk chair: "CREEEEEAK!") I'm proud of how far she has come with the sensory integration therapy she's had over the past 2 years, because she has come a very long way. Two years ago, our attendance at such an event would absolutely, positively have ended with me carrying her out, kicking and screaming in the midst of a major meltdown. Last night, there was some minor belligerence over my announcement (I counted down for her so it wasn't a surprise) that it was time to go, but that's to be expected of any 5 year old when they're told they're about to be the first ones to leave a party.
Let's just hope Kiddo doesn't want to have her next birthday party at Mr. Cheese's fine establishment...................... eeeeek!