I knew I couldn’t avoid the torture chamber known as Chuck E. Cheese forever. It was only a matter of time before the continuous television commercials seeped into Connor’s brain and turned him into a mindless, mouse-zombie.
Also, every Saturday on our way to play group we pass a Chuck E. Cheese. And every Saturday, Connor says “look mom, Chuck E. Cheese, I want to go there!”
So this past weekend, for Connor’s 7th birthday party, we braved the wilds of ratville and held his birthday party at the noisiest place on earth. But in order to maintain a degree of sanity, I scheduled it on a Sunday morning, and only invited 3 friends. They were friends from play group. Friends that think nothing of a meltdown, or a demand that there be NO SINGING (like there was at his 5th birthday party). And having a smaller group minimizes the potential of Connor becoming overwhelmed and overstimulated. I mean, with all the other pandemonium in ratville, at least I could control that one little aspect.
Surprisingly, it went well. Great, as a matter of fact.
The kids played in the arcade area until it was time for pizza and a show. Then they all gathered at the table and Connor was presented with a red, inflatable birthday crown, and a special “birthday star” medallion around his neck. He felt so special, and so important…it was worth every cent.
Then Mick Jagger walked in.
No, not the real Mick Jagger. It was Chuck, or Mr. E. Cheese as we peasants call him. When he walked in, the kids Lost. Their. Minds. One little girl from our group threw her arms around the giant rat and held on for dear life. Her dad had to pry her off of Mr. E. Cheese, like a groupie at a Motley Crue concert. Connor high-fived and shook hands, over and over and over again. He called out, “I love you Chuck E. Cheese!!”
Until finally, Elvis left the building. Seriously, that’s what the E. stands for.
And then, then it was time to get in the ticket wind booth. Oh yes, each birthday child gets a turn in the wind booth, where they have 30 seconds to try and grab handfuls of swirling tickets, for redemption at the Booth of Crappy Toys. And in the swirling mass there is one, coveted blue ticket, worth 1000 tickets (or about 30-cents). Connor stood in the tunnel, not grabbing tickets, but instead just enjoying feeling the rushing air. As it came to a stop, he reached down on his way out the door and grabbed the blue ticket.
Hey man, what the rat doesn’t see won’t hurt him, right?
And oh my god, who do I have to kill to get one of those wind booths delivered to my house?? Hours of fun, I tell ya.
From there, it was cake, presents, and a few final games. Oh, and we all got to sing “Happy Birthday” without any protestations. And then, finally, we cashed out all those hard-won tickets, and we came home with:
Yep, no matter how old Connor gets, his first love will always be giant bouncy balls.
Oh, and balloons, of course.
Believe it or not, it was one of the best, and happiest, birthday parties that Connor has ever had. We had a party in the middle of a noisy, chaotic place, surrounded by screaming kids and giant rats, and it went off without a hitch.
We’ve come a long way in the last couple of years. There is still work to do, but we have truly seen a lot of growth and change in our son.
Happy Birthday, Connor.