Over the weekend Emmalee attended a friend’s third birthday party. This party was held at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Now I had not been in a Chuck E. Cheese’s in many years prior to this party, and I had never been in one from the point of view of a parent. It was an interesting experience.
Upon entering the establishment a half hour late (I’m finding that it is nearly impossible to arrive on time to anything now that I have a child), Emmalee appeared to be as overwhelmed as I was. It was loud. There were children everywhere, all running around in a wild, uninhibited way that was a little frightening. The air smelled of pizza, tears, germs, and insatiable need. Neither of us were sure of how to proceed.
It didn’t take long though for the place to work its magic and suck Emmalee right in. We made our way to the toddler area, and though Emma is not quite toddling just yet, she enjoyed herself. There were blinking lights to stare at, buttons to press, stairs to climb, and other children to marvel at. Not to mention dirty carpet to crawl on, un-sanitized phones to put her mouth to, smudged plastic to press her face against, and buttons and toys that have been touched by hundreds of other children to put her hands all over. But it depends on your perspective, I guess.
I believe Emmalee’s favorite part of the day, however, came when it was time to eat. Prior to this party she had not yet experienced pizza. She took her first bite and gave me a look that clearly said, “Are you kidding me? Stuff this mouth-watering and delicious exists and you’ve been feeding me that tasteless crap from a jar?” I couldn’t cut it up fast enough for her. I let her eat one slice, though she likely would have kept eating until she puked if I would have allowed it. Next came cake, and though I held back the icing she still enjoyed it. I don’t think there is much else in the world that Emmalee enjoys as much as eating, especially if what she is eating is unhealthy and full of carbs. Maybe I shouldn’t have indulged in all those Coco Puffs, Cheetos and Wendy’s value meals while pregnant after all…
When Chuck E. Cheese himself made an appearance I watched curiously to see how Emma would react. She is quite apprehensive around strangers, and stuffed toys that move often make her cry, so I didn’t have high hopes for the encounter. Still under the spell of her location though, Emmalee uncharacteristically loved Chuck E. Cheese. She waved at him. She clapped for him. She yelled at him encouragingly. With me holding her hands for support, she walked right over to him to get a closer look. Just when I was getting concerned that I might have taken the wrong child from the play area, I picked Emmalee up and brought her face to face with the large, costumed mouse. This was too close for comfort, and her face crumbled. My child after all.
Our time at Chuck E. Cheese’s ended with presents. While the birthday girl opened her pile of gifts, Emmalee had a break down. Perhaps it was the junk food, or the chaos, or the mouse encounter, or the fact that she’d only slept about 25 minutes the entire day, but she had had enough. The beginning of the end was when Emmalee would not tolerate being held. She insisted that I let her crawl on the previously mentioned dirty carpet. Against my better judgment, I gave in. Next she wanted to pull up on a booth inhabited by people we did not know, crawl underneath tables, and eat cake crumbs off the floor. I had to draw the line somewhere. Telling her no resulted in a full-blown, back arching, leg kicking, face reddening, high-pitched screaming tantrum that Emmalee is becoming quite an expert at throwing. You’ve got to know when to fold ‘em, or so they say, so we quickly said our good-byes. Emma was sound asleep in the car seat before I even pulled away.We feel badly about our hasty exit (well, I do anyway), but an hour and forty-five minutes of Chuck E. Cheese’s was all we could take on our first visit. Still, we had fun and are very grateful to have been invited and to have been given the opportunity to celebrate with the very adorable birthday girl. We hope that she had an excellent time!