Last month brought another historic first for our family, our first time attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses.
My roommate in college, Cassi (you may remember her from such adventures as pinking our hair and Kristina's traumatic trip to Disneyland), worked a Chuck E. Cheese out in Iowa back in the day, and I had been known to take the tokens she accidentally brought home in her pockets to play skeetball in the evenings while waiting for her to get off so she could go to Dairy Queen with me on occasion.
But I hadn't ever been to this organization as a PARENT.
You know, a PARENT, where your world views are forever altered to literally see the nasty germs climbing all over otherwise unassuming surfaces and constantly dealing with things like your child's phobia of large costumed mice is as mundane an activity as wiping snotty noses.
But Kristina had been invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses, and to Chuck E. Cheeses we went.
It was surprisingly better than I had anticipated.
First, there weren't the masses of screaming hordes of children. In fact, there were scant few to be seen that weren't a part of the birthday party. This may have been because it was a Monday evening, and not say, Saturday afternoon, or it may reflect the economic decline over the years since I was in college. But regardless, the place was notably un-packed.
Well, at least more fun for the lushing parents....
Also, have you ever heard of anything classier than a Merlot on tap from Chuck E Cheese? It's totally like, boxed wine to the tenth power of boxiness. Sadly, I didn't think of the blogging potential I was missing out on when I just got myself a kiddy cup sized beer.
It took me some serious pondering to figure out how I hadn't known that Chuck E. Cheese sold booze from Cassi's unMickey mouse tenure, and then I realized I hadn't been 21 when she was working there, and therefore would have had much less interested in my hypothetical ability to buy alcohol as I was completely unable to buy alcohol at the time.
It definitely took Kristina a little while to stop spazing over the games and actually stop to play one for more than three milliseconds. But once she locked in, she was LOCKED, and Kristina and a couple of her best little buds were all about the pirate-shooting-zombies-and-giant-crabs game.
I have to admit, the party host certainly seemed to be aware that she was reciting a fairly horrible script to a mass of inattentive children who really didn't care about anything beyond getting to the promised cake for a minimum hourly wage.
And the guy the Chuckie Suit was even more apathetic about the whole thing than she was.
I suppose one can't be picky about the acting skills and enthusiasm by people who undoubtedly find their job insufferable more often than not while being paid an insultingly low wage.
(Says the person who works at Target....)
But THEN Mr. Cheese went around the table greeting all the children.
I held my breathe, anxiously hoping against a Kristina meltdown when he got to her.
And then Kristina, the child who BEGGED me not to let Santa Clause into our house multiple Christmases after being too terrified of the costumed him in the mall to even walk past the Santa enclosure, gave the big mouse a smile and a high five.
Sometimes, it's the little things in parenting that make you feel accomplished. Or maybe just extremely relieved, that perhaps the irrational-phobia-of-large-costumed-characters really might be grown out of.
(And that means we can go back to Disneyland soon, right??)
Kristina also managed to score herself a respectable number of tickets over the course of the evening, had more fun putting them into the counter machine than playing most of the games, and thought the micro-sized package of nerds and pink plastic bracelet she brought home as prizes were just awesome.