Last week our family had the unique pleasure (ack!!!) of going to Chuck E. Cheese’s not once but twice, for two separate kid birthday parties. Luckily, I had to work the night of the first one (a Wednesday… odd choice for a kid’s birthday, but probably a lot less crowded).
I hate to sound like a stick-in-the-mud, but that place is a madhouse. From the moment you pull into the overcrowded parking lot till the moment you drag your kid, kicking and screaming, back out the door. (I’m exaggerating, but only a little.)
It’s louder than a Who concert. The music is awful. It’s wall to wall people. It’s an early indoctrination into a sort of gambling addiction (“Gotta get more tickets! So I can buy that cheap Chinese helicopter behind the counter! I don’t care if it’s only worth thirteen cents and I just paid four dollars in tokens! I want it!”) And finally, as one of my family members put it, “It smells like feet and ass.” And road salt, during the winter.
I realize there are a limited number of choices for what to do on a kid’s birthday. But I still contend it’s just a lack of imagination and general laziness that would cause a parent to subject themselves and our nation’s kids to such a hollow, sugar-and-bad-pizza-fueled, crazy experience. We throw money at the problem, and thus give away our children’s ability to be creative, talk to each other, and actually think for themselves.
[BTW, Apologies to Rickie Lee Jones, writer and singer of the great old song “Chuck E’s In Love”. I had that song in my head when I wrote this, and I’m a big fan of her work, right up to the present day. Check her out. She’s very spiritual… the antithesis of that giant rabid mouse pushing bad pizza and video games.]