Steve and I made the bold move today of taking Jack to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time. Would it be a morning of family fun? Or would it be a hell of tantrums that we paid a small fortune for? We were brave enough to find out.
When we pulled up to the restaurant, Jack spotted the picture of Mr. Charles E. Cheese and delightedly shouted, "Mickey!" The kid is obviously going to be a blast when we go to Disney World this fall. Inside, we headed to the small toddler-geared section in the back. Toddler World was made up mainly of the kind of rides that I remember going on in the mall for 10 cents. You know - sit on the horsey, be gently rocked back and forth. Jack was a big fan of that, in particular the one featuring a purple dinosaur who shall not be named (at least it wasn't the Teletubbies one).
He then checked out a toddler version of Wack-A-Mole, several other little kid games, and had a great time watching the other kids play. He especially enjoyed trying to put his tickets (oh yeah, we were big winners, and if we do as well next time, we can redeem our tickets for a pack of Smarties) into all of the machines. He loved the merry go round best of all, riding it about seven times.
The place truly is like a kid Vegas, with risk of sensory overload everywhere. At one point, we were thisclose to a tantrum. Jack handed me his tickets, and like a fool, I took them. He then proceeded to say, "MINE!" and was about to cry. I got down to his level and said, "It's okay, Jack," and I could see in his face that he was about to lose it but really, really didn't want to. I picked him up and asked if he needed a break, and he nodded and said, "Yep."
In a stroke of luck, that's exactly when our pizza was ready. We had a table in a relatively quiet corner, and amazingly enough, Jack ate incredibly well. He had a ton of pizza, as well as several chunks of melon. I remember when he was a baby, I didn't ever feed him in a room with a ceiling fan, because who can eat with that kind of excitment around? We have come a long way.
After we finished eating, Chuck E. Cheese himself came out to make the rounds. Jack cried, "Mickey!" and we went to say hi to him. Jack gave the mouse a high five and probably baffled the guy by saying, "Hi, Mickey." With that, it was time to go. Amazingly, Jack did not have a tantrum, as we repeatedly told him that Mickey went bye bye.
In the car, Jack was still thrilled about this amazing experience he'd just had. He kept saying, "Mickey! Pizza! Neigh! Mickey bye bye!" Then, he made every cent we spent worth it by saying (unprompted), "Tank oo, Mama. Tank oo, Daddy."