There he is, folks. The big animatronic rat. The mascot that is the hallmark of childhood fun and sensory overload (and, let's not forget, all manner of contagions).
On Monday evening, Ethan and I ventured out to our local Chuck E Cheese (from henceforth referred to as CEC, because I am as lazy as the day is long, people). One of Ethan's friends was celebrating his birthday with some good old-fashioned pizza and token-eating ride-on toys.
Though I have always assumed I would nix any and all attempts to walk through the doors of the rat's haven, I have to say my anti-CEC stance has softened as of late. A good friend back home recently had her daughter's birthday party at their local CEC and I wouldn't have missed that for the world. And I trust that mom's judgment. Also? I really like the mom hosting this party and trust her judgment. So maybe those years of being a smug singleton and non-mom-type, swearing I'd never put so much as a toe inside an establishment that would consciously CHOOSE to make a disease-spreading vermin its mascot (seriously, THINK about that!) needed to take a back seat to the desire to watch my little boy's eyes light up at the sight of all.those.rides.
I was glad to see that when we walked into the mass of humanity that was a Monday evening at the Cheeeese, the spotty-faced kid at the door stamped both of our hands with the same invisible number (shows up under black light) and informed me that Ethan wouldn't be able to leave the building with anyone but me because we were the only two with those numbers on our hands. Okay. Thank you, CEC, for making sure that creepy pedophiles are not able to cruise the Cheese on a Monday night. That puts a mother's mind at ease. Sort of.
To Ethan, I have to imagine the only word to describe the place would be: sublime. From the 'ding ding ding!!!!" of the video games to the whirring noise of the riding toys, to the CEC music blaring through the speaker system (which I am sure was laden with subliminal messages about eating pizza and buying more tokens), it was all very, very good for him. It's a good thing they stamped our hands and gave me that faint sense of security because I could not keep track of that child. I think at one point, he may have split into two or three selves in order to be in two places at once. It was that exciting for him.
He rode the cars. He rode the rollercoaster simulator. He rode the tiny merry-go-round. He ran past the giant animatronic rodent with his eyes closed and his arms out to me. He climbed through the maze up to the ceiling and slid down the slide. He played Guitar Hero. He tokens in about fifteen other games and rides that were over before he figured out how to play them (and he would not let me help). He grew to love the animatronic rodent. He made new friends, ate pizza and a gummy worm off the top of a cupcake.
Finally at 7pm, bleary-eyed and red-faced, Ethan came up to me and said, "Go home. I need to go home." He clung to me as we said our goodbyes to the birthday boy and his family. I thought perhaps he'd fall asleep on the car ride home, but apparently there was some sort of weird CEC backlash and about a quarter of the way home, the child got a second wind and started insisting that we go back to the home of the rodent and play more. Right now. When I reminded him that he himself had requested a ride home, he got all indignant, like I was talking crazy. Poor kid. He's got the Cheese, and he's got it bad.
So many flashing lights.
love the mustache...
Ethan and a friend of a friend's little boy who *could* be Ethan's twin. Am I right?