Monday, January 24, 2011

The Devil's Playground

I had to take Clay and Brooklyn to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's this weekend. I'm no germaphobe, but I generally avoid that place like the plague. You know, because it's teeming with germs and you only have a .00001% chance of escaping that place without the flu, strep throat, tuberculosis, malaria, or the bubonic plague. I've seen it happen.

So, we walked in and were instantly stopped by the fifteen-year-old security guard. She stamped the kids' and my hands with a special, super-secret code in invisible ink. What they should do, instead of stamping your hand, is spray you down with antibacterial gel.

We continued past the guardchild and headed into the bowels of the restaurant where I tried to avoid tripping over kids hopped up on sugar and the kind of excitement that comes from winning tickets that can be traded in for mind-blowing awesomeness like pencil erasers and plastic dinosaurs.

As I wound my way around the arcade games toward the table that was set up for the birthday boy, a kid sneezed on my arm. I was covered in sneeze juice from a kid who was undoubtedly incubating Ebola. I continued to walk toward the table, wiping my arm on the next kid to get too close to me.

I found the mom of the birthday boy and yelled over the cacophony that is Chuck E. Cheese's.

Hi! Do you have enough help? Do you want me to stay oh gosh, please say no! ?" She told me she had enough people staying to help watch the kids. At least that's what I think she said. I was halfway out the door as she answered.

I eventually came back to get the kids. I searched throughout the restaurant, but couldn't find Clay or Brooklyn anywhere. They weren't at the table. I didn't see them playing any video games. I searched the skeeball tables, the basketball games, inside the basketball hoops (What? Stranger things have happened!), on the merry-go-round, the motorcycles, cars, and boats. Could they have spontaneously combusted from the pure excitement of the place? Then Lexi pointed out the maze of tunnels running along the ceiling. Oh great, I thought to myself,
they'll stay up in the tunnels until I crawl up there to drag them out. And there's probably be a weight limit in the tunnels and my butt will either get stuck in there or the whole ceiling tunnel transportation system will break free from the ceiling and crash to the floor, crushing the kids beneath it.

Thankfully, they weren't in the tunnel transportation system. I finally found them by the ticket redemption counter. They knelt on the ground, their little faces pressed against the glass as they inhaled the Cholera germs living on the surface. If you've ever been to one of these types of places, then you know what I did for the next half hour. That's right. I stood there waiting while Clayton and Brooklyn weighed the pros and cons of getting glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth or a Tootsie Pop or a plastic bracelet. I mean, these are very important, life-changing decisions here, people!

After four and a half hours, I finally dragged the kids toward the door. We were stopped by the security child so she could shine her magic light on the invisible ink tattoos on our hands. The numbers on our hands matched so she said we could leave.

I looked at Clay, jumping around like he was on a pogo stick and said, "Are you sure the numbers match? Because if they don't, I can leave him here. You know, just saying."

As I walked out, I saw this sign on the wall.



That's right. As much as you might be tempted to bring a gun into Chuck E. Cheese's (and I understand how one might get such an urge) it is not allowed.

Chuck E. Cheese's, where a kid can't be shot for being a kid.

Okay, now I'm going to gargle some Lysol before I come down with Typhoid.

40 comments:

Dar said...

OH Thank GOD I am not the ONLY one who says We will all be sick. Went to my cousin's little one's birthday last week..yeah I GOT SICK and my Youngest got sick *sigh* I HATE Chuck E Cheese!

Moms At Wits End said...

Lol! I feel your pain! My husband was so traumatized by chuckee cheese the first time we went he swore he'd never go back! He eventually did and braved it alone, but figured out the best time to go is late afternoon in the middle of the week. Obviously, we will not be having any birthday parties there!

Bec said...

Seriously that sign is no joke. There was a shooting at the Chuck E Cheese down the street from me not too long ago. And I don't even live in a bad area. The Cheese brings out the worst in people.

Donna said...

When we left China last summer, we spent a few weeks in the States before we moved to Jordan. I think I spent half of my home leave standing at the glass counter debating the relative merits of dinosaur tattoos versus mini tootsie pops. That's the only thing the kids wanted to do in America - go to ChuckE Cheese.

Admittedly, it does feel like a germ-fest in there. But each time we went, I snuck in a frappucino in my purse, along with the cheesiest magazine I could find, and I'd spend a blissful hour reading quietly in one of their booths, pausing only when I needed to dole out chuckie coins. (The kids always come back on their own if they know you have all of the coins.)

Rachel said...

Thanks for making me laugh! I detest Chuck E, but am forced there too often. The love of a mother will walk through cholera for a plastic dinosaur...thanks for reminding me of that!

hrunars said...

Haha, love it - if you survive, read this article to see why :þ

Mel said...

I know exactly what your saying! Although, there are many places where after leaving I feel the need to scrub myself down with bleach & scalding hot water, like the kids school.. LOL .. but isn't it just fun to forget being a grown up for a minute and try to convince the kids to use their tickets on what you want ? LOL

Sharon said...

I laughed at the thought of you crawling through the "transportation system" looking for Clay and Brooklyn! One time when I was sick...my dear husband took our two kids to Chuck E. Cheese to get some steam blown off. He was evidently unaware of the lore surrounding that place by us moms. He had to go into the dreaded ball pit to get our daughters coat and then find both kids' shoes. He never went back again.....

Megryansmom said...

And that is why parents shoot each other in the parking lot instead! True story!

Denise Scotti said...

Ugh! Chuck E Cheese is the worst!! Every time we go there, someone gets sick, every single time! And we were just invited there for a party this weekend. I don't wanna go! Don't make me!
But, the kids love it more than anything, so we will go. Even though I will end up sick. Lovely.
I'm glad Lexi and Clay had a great time!

Denise
www.bestparent.wordpress.com

Kimberly said...

I hate Chuck E Cheese. I think at some point I actually lied to my children and told them that it went out of business. We don't drive by it often, so I figured I was safe. Oh,no...kids talk. And I was busted.

But before you think that means we spent more time there, don't forget, I hold the car keys. And by the time they drive, I pray to God their fascination with that awful place will have faded.

V1nce said...

THAT'S THE ONLY RULE?!
Tasers are allowed? (actually a necessity)
Lighters? (of course kids luv playing w/fire)
Lawn Darts? (throw em again Jimmy you can get em closer to your sister)
Grenade? (yeah, it's ok you got it from grandpa's locked glass case so it's gotta be a dud)
Flamethrower? (it's not on the list, so have fun)
Scissors? (run run run)

Well, at least there's no guns allowed...

Rebecca Bany said...

Ok, that's just hilarious... and completely honest. I love it. Everytime I go to Chuck E. Cheese from here on out I will think of this blog. :)
www.rebeccabany.com

Lisa said...

OMG, the need for that signs scares me more than the germs!!! wth??

Crazy Mom Tats! said...

I think they need to have a special glass enclosed, soundproof booth in the middle of Chuckie Cheese. With a bar in it. Because hard liquor - and lots of it - are the only thing that could make me endure Chuckie Cheese again. I'm so glad my youngest child is beyond that age...

Momof2hapas said...

Dawn, thanks for continuing to write for us (your loving readers). Despite your incredible ongoing struggles, you continue to share moments that bring laughter to others. You are truly and inspiration!

Robin said...

Hilarious!! Just reading your post made me reach for the hand sanitizer (and I'm not usually germaphobic either) HOWEVER... you just KNOW that place is crawling with 'em!!

Missy said...

Look up the video by Tim Wilson on youtube, Chuck E Cheese Hell. It is what I think of every time that place is mentioned around me.

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

I never used to be a germaphobe, but I totally am now. I don't even like bringing my kids into stores. Luckily I homeschool, so they can stay home and avoid all those germy kids. :)

Mendi said...

Whoever invented Chuck E Cheese is a sadist. My oldest at age 3 got on the tall slide inside the ball pit and was scared to go down and the kids waiting to go down the slide wouldn't let him back up. So he sat at the top of the slide screaming bloody murder for mom. I had to trudge through the ball pit, climb up the slide (up the sliding part) with my big ole butt sticking up, grab him and slide down the slide and out through the ball pit. Every adult was laughing! Luckily, my youngest was scared of that big rat and refused to go to Chuck E Cheese (she's 18 now and he still gives her the creeps)

stephanie said...

My four kids have never been to
Up-Chuck E Cheese...I wasn't a fan when I was young. And the closest one to us is 2 hours away, so we find other ways waste money :)
Stephanie A.

Honey said...

Aaah! The Chuck E. Cheese place. Funny you should write about it because my kids have been asking to go there for about two weeks now. I've been giving excuses but I'll be out of them soon, and the trip will be inevitable.

Alecia @ Hoobing Family Adventures said...

Ha ha! The germs in those places freak me out too! Glad you survived!

Katie Rosenthal-Mayer said...

Oh Dawn, I swear we share a brain....I LOTHE Charles E. Cheese. My 9 year old thinks I'm evil because I refuse to go there. The last time we were there for a bday party. I as well doing the drop and run. When I was picking up, in the 15 minutes I was there I witnessed the following 2 things.
POOP on the floor! Seriously...a TURD was on the floor next to the table where they serve food. I flagged down an employee and her solution was putting a paper CUP over it. 30 seconds later, a kid threw up all over his table. His mom, picked him up...set him down at the empty table next to it and handed him a cupcake. NICE. Poop & puke all in 1 minute. I will NEVER go back to planet hazmat.

I'm in Disguise! said...

Do these places not have a fire capacity laws? I've only had the honor of going twice (yet my daughter has begged to have her birthday party there for the past 3 years, she's only 7). It is frightening the true number of children running around unsupervised. As i try to get my daughters picture taken in the little drawy thing some kid sticks his head in just at the right time... Yeah thanks.. wasted my 3 bucks! Oh I have a pure hate for that place!

Jennifer said...

I was out in Kansas City a few weeks ago. Nothing amused me more than seeing signs everywhere, including at my office, saying "no firearms allowed". Good to know the Cheese has the same policy

pmerry said...

I DESPISE Chuckie Cheese, and my child used to be terrified of it, so she would refuse to go to birthday parties there. I'd just tell the moms "Oh sorry, she's got something that weekend already". Last year she went to one, because it was a really good friend, and she was in terror the whole time that Chucky would touch her or try to talk to her. It is such a horrible, horrible place. They should all be razed to the ground as far as I'm concerned!

Christine said...

Love your description!!

Luckily my kids have grown out of Chuck E Cheese...but they do want to go to John's Incredible Pizza or from time to time...(think Chuck E Cheese for older kids)...no ball pits but lots of costly attractions and an unsupervised free-for-all buffet that I get a little nervous eating at after all the little hands come through. (I usually figure I'm safe with the salad). Their initials spell JIP...and thats about how I feel about that.

Que said...

HA! You might scoff at CEC's but some of us make a living there. And I'm not talking about the staff. I'm talking about the fact that I ALWAYS win the grand prize at Skee Ball. They can't stop me! I don't care if I spend $1 or $100. That prize is mine at least once on every trip! THEN I take my little 250 grand prize tickets (plus any of the other tickets I received from my previous failures) and I go up there and cash it is for a nice spider ring. You hear that!?!?! A S-P-I-D-E-R ring. You can't just go buy one of those. (I'm pretty sure you can.) You have to earn that little plastic beast! And when I get it, I wear it with pride because I have yet to see ANY of those little beasts (the kids, not spiders) come close to my record.

(The inner-voice of my wife is telling me I took this comment WAY too far. Sorry.!

Kimberly said...

You know someone stupid did something to cause that sign to have to be posted. Just like the tags on blow dryers..
Here you go..all the way from Bakersfield, CA.
"In August 2004, a 23-year-old Bakersfield man was shot in the chest in the parking lot at outside of Chuck E. Cheese."
Source: http://www.strip-magazine.com/mmagazine/new_welcome.php?subaction=showfull&id=1234908813&archive=&start_from=&ucat=11&category=5

Jennifer Foster said...

HAHA!

Sherry said...

I hate that place. I can never find my kids which makes me panicky.....my son wanted his bday there when he was little and then dove under the table and wouldn't come out when the rat made his appearance. Any place that uses a RAT for its mascot just can't be right!

Beverly said...

Love love love love this post! You've put my thoughts into words about CEC. Thanks for the awesome laugh!

aceiatx said...

I am lucky, my son hates it there and will turn down birthday party invites to go there. He is 4 and he says it is too loud and crowded and the animatronic bears are creepy.

Nancy said...

I affectionately refer to the place as "Yucky Sneezes"

Lesley said...

I had to look at the website to see what this place is as we do not have them in the UK.

It truly looks an exciting place for kids to go, but I think I would have freaked out at just letting my son roam around and not knowing where he was.

On the germphobia side - I actually suffered from this as a result of untreated post-natal depression and even going to the supermarket with him was a nightmare for me. So I would have avoided this place like the plague!!

Luckily for me, after moving home I found a truly amazing doctor who actually listened and understood my problems and gradually I recovered, but I can still understand your concerns.

Havalina said...

The one here in Lancaster, PA is really scary. I recall one incident where a guy wandered through the place spitting and yelling, "I have hepetitis! I have hepetitis!" •shudder•

Made To Organize said...

Thank you for this post! This is the Dawn I "fell in love with" (haha) years ago and it's so good to read a post like this again. I'm glad you continue to find joy and humor through the storm. I'm praying for you guys! You're awesome!

Carmen said...

I could not describe my feelings for that place better than you did!!! I kept laughing because I can identify with every single comment you made...

My oldest two got to go there, but I don't think my third ever made it into that evil bat of disease!

Judy N. said...

Loved this post! I'm a follower of yours, but just saw this post when I was looking up some stuff for my own post about Chuck E. Cheese and their gun ban sign. Glad to know I'm not the only one who has Chuck E. issues!

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