Chuck E. Cheese Pandemonium

     You’ve probably heard about all the recent violence that’s occurred at various Chuck E. Cheese’s throughout the country, right?  Adults are fighting, kids are fighting, and people are just generally making complete asses of themselves all in the presence of Mr. Cheese.  There’s even one location in Wisconsin that’s required the cops to come and bust up twelve different fights over the span of just a couple years. The thing that I don’t understand, though, is why everyone seems to be so shocked by all this insanity.  I mean seriously, people, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A CHUCK E. CHEESE??!!!  That kind of environment would make any sane person go balls to the wall crazy.  They should change their tagline to “Where a kid can be a raging lunatic.

     Just think about it for a minute — you pretty much know you’ve entered the depths of HELL the moment you walk into a Chuck E. Cheese.  The banging and beeping and screaming and shrieking reverberates throughout your entire body.  Ear plugs should just be automatically handed out at the door to protect your hearing.  And the flashing lights!  Oh, the flashing lights!  They’re EVERYWHERE and they’re bright enough to burn your damn retinas.  A person can only take all this banging and flashing for so long before it starts to really mess with the mind.

     And then there’s the tens of thousands of kids who are darting about like they ate crack for breakfast.  Manners are checked at the door, and you better be prepared to elbow any guy who tries to cut in front of you in the Skee-Ball line.  Best believe NOBODY wants to wait his turn.  Patience just doesn’t exist within the walls of Chuck E. Cheese.  You should also plan on putting a death grip on any tickets you win from the games since they will no doubt be swiped right off the floor if you drop them.  Hell, they might even be pried right from your own hand if you’re not paying attention.  It’s a dog eat dog world in the arcade area, so your bite better be as freaking loud as your bark.

     And furthermore, does the giant mouse image not bother anyone else but me?  Personally, I don’t really like associating a place that sells food with rodents.  If you ask me, the very symbol of their whole entire franchise instills fear and panic.  Who knows, maybe people become so crazed in there because they’re internally worried about mice shitting all over their pepperoni pizza.  

     Actually, I think it’s pretty surprising that all this violence has taken so long to finally come to a head.  The whole concept itself is a serious recipe for disaster.  You put a shit ton of hyped up kids with a shit ton of stressed out adults in one very loud and very crowded place together, and there’s bound to be trouble.  And this, my friends, is why I avoid Chuck E. Cheese like the flipping plague.  Isn’t life crazy enough without a giant varmint singing and dancing and brainwashing our kids to waste all our money on germ-infested arcade machines?  (That was a rhetorical question.)


The Playground


     The fourth day of school, and I’m already visiting the principal’s office with my son.  Is it really gonna be THAT kind of a year?! Apparently, there was an “incident” on the playground yesterday, and my son ended up getting hurt. Luckily, he’s o.k., but ever since then, I have been so aggravated about the lack of supervision on the playground. (My daughter also had some sort of “incident” last year in kindergarten where she was pushed to the ground by a group of boys.)  It seems to me that the playground is where all bad things tend to go down.  It’s where bullying takes place, where self-esteem goes sour, and where kids often get hurt, both physically and emotionally.    

     Yesterday after lunchtime, I received a call from the school nurse that started out by saying, “Don’t worry. Everything is fine.”  Now, why in the world do they preface it with a line like that?  If everything was fine, then I wouldn’t be getting a freaking phone call, would I? Anyway, the nurse could not have been more vague in her description of what had happened to my son.  All I could get out of her was that my son was playing with another boy, who got very “excited” and scratched my son.  Um, excuse me?!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically scratch someone when I’m excited.  I tried to pump her for more information, but it was obvious that she was afraid to say too much.  It was very clear to me that she was trying to carefully choose her words. She reassured me that the other “excited” child had been to the principal’s office and that a phone call had been made to his mom. And then she must’ve told me three different times that she’d cleaned up the blood from his face and disinfected the cuts.  I kinda felt bad for the poor woman, because I guess she didn’t really know how much she should or shouldn’t say, thanks to all the lawsuit-happy parents out there.  I asked several times if he was upset, and she said no and that he was already back in his classroom.  She even offered to go get him from class so that I could talk to him on the phone.  It was such an odd suggestion to me, that I actually kind of chuckled at the thought of it (totally inappropriate, I know, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of pulling my previously freaked out son from his classroom once he’d already calmed down to go all the way down to the nurse’s office to talk to his mom on the phone.)  Needless to say, I politely declined the offer and said I’d talk to him after school.

     I spent the remainder of the afternoon wondering what my son’s face would look like when I picked him up from school.  Would he look like he’d been attacked by a cougar or scratched by a kitten? When he finally emerged into the mob of waiting parents, he appeared to be as happy as a clam and only had two medium-sized scratches just below his eye.  I tried to ask him about the playground incident, but as is usually the case with him, I got a whole lotta nothing.  I did, however, get bombarded by three of his little girlfriends who were more than willing to give me a recap of what went down.  Of course, they had a completely different version of the story that involved punching.  My head was spinning, and since I still didn’t know what the hell had really happened, I decided to find his teacher.  Naturally, he’d had a substitute yesterday, who didn’t really know anything more than I did, so I then chose to visit the principal, herself.  And all I really got out of her was that the kids were all playing too rough and the other boy got a little out of control.  I so badly wanted to scream, “Isn’t ANYBODY watching these kids out on the playground??!!”  My husband and I both talked to my son individually last night about appropriate behavior and keeping our hands to ourselves.  We also talked to him about his right to find an adult in charge if someone isn’t treating him nicely at recess.  Since we still didn’t REALLY know what happened, we tried to cover all bases, whether he was the one doing the teasing or whether someone else was picking on him.  

     Whatever the case, it seems very obvious to me that our playgrounds need WAY more adult supervision.  Kids should be able to let loose and have fun for that small window of playtime without feeling threatened or mistreated by other kids.  They should feel safe to be themselves and not worry about getting hurt.  And if they do get hurt, an adult should be able to report the details of the situation without fear of getting slapped with a lawsuit for simply telling the truth. Playgrounds should not be venues for pint-sized fight clubs. And as much as I love Brad Pitt, I just personally don’t want my kids to become street fighters.  So, unless parents are cool with their offspring entering into the UFC ring someday, then somebody better figure out a way to get a handle on this situation pronto.

Too Much Together Time

1994-05-07[1]    It is becoming very clear to me with each passing day that we are getting more and more ready for school to start.  All this “together time” here at Grammy’s house is going to either drive my kids to claw each other’s eyes out or send this here mama straight to the loony bin.  Even fun activities that I am certain that they’ll like turn into shoving and/or shouting matches.  I’m wondering if we are going to be outlawed from Grammy’s neighborhood altogether by the end of our visit.

     Since the kids have learned to ride their bikes with no training wheels, we decided to bring them down here with us.  The only problem is that Grammy’s hood is much different than ours.  They actually have driveways, whereas we have unattached garages in the alleys behind our houses where we live.  My kids are not used to watching out for cars turning into and backing out of driveways.  They are used to just barreling down the sidewalk at full speed.  So, in order to prevent them from turning into pavement pancakes, Grammy came up with the idea to take their bikes down to the church around the corner and let them ride around the enormous parking lot.  It seemed like such a brilliant idea at the time.

     So, yesterday morning, I packed up the kids and the bikes and headed over to the church parking lot.  I thought the kids could get rid of some of their bottled up energy while I could sit and do a little bit of writing.  Really, though, I don’t know who I was kidding.  I mean, these were the same two wild banshees who were just caught using rackets as weapons in Grammy’s backyard.  And sure enough, we weren’t there for more than ten measley minutes before the claws came out once again.  All that massive amount of wide open space, and they decided that they both just absolutely had to be on the exact same strip of asphalt.  My daughter started screaming at my son, who then started screaming right back at my daughter.  This was then followed by an outburst of tears from my daughter and a series of smirking and snickering from my son, which led to further shrieking from my daughter.  It suddenly dawned on me that my children were about to throw down IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHURCH PARKING LOT!  I was seriously waiting for God to come bursting through the lobby doors right then and there, shaking his holy finger at my little heathens.  Either that or I was prepared to duck for the inevitable lightning that was sure to strike down at any given moment.  After this little moment of clarity about just where this whole sibling rivalry was all going down, I packed up the bikes and declared the ending of yet another “fun” little adventure. 

     When we got back to Grammy’s, the kids each enjoyed some “alone” time (AKA time out) while I took deep breaths and checked the calendar to see just how many days we have left of summer break.  I was so looking forward to having this week and next to really enjoy spending good quality time with the kids before they start back to school.  I’m having a hard time with the “quality” part of our time together because I’m too busy being pissed off at them!  I really didn’t want them to answer the question, “What did you do over summer vacation?” with a reply of, “beat the crap out of my brother/sister.”

I’m On The Phone!


     If I ever need to get the attention of my kids, I swear all I need to do is attempt to make a phone call.  They could be completely oblivious to the fact that I’m even in the house, but the minute I pick up the phone, they are all over me.  Someone’s tattle telling, fighting, taking a poop, singing, crying, and, in general, just misbehaving, all while I’m trying to carry on a civilized conversation with the person on the other end of the line.  

     Just yesterday, when I was trying to make an appointment over the phone, my son decided that was the absolute minute he needed to play Uno with me.  I must’ve told him a hundred times that I’d have to play later, but it didn’t seem to register with him even one little bit. He went ahead and dealt out the cards anyway.  Every time I’d walk around the corner to another room to be able to hear better, here he’d come with my cards, whining about it being my turn.  How could it be my turn when I wasn’t even playing in the first place??!!  

     I’ve tried everything from forewarning them before making a call to hiding in a closet.  NOTHING WORKS!  They always find me!  I thought it would get better as they got older, but it most certainly is not.  In fact, I think it might even be worse.  I feel so incredibly rude when I constantly have a three ring circus going on in the background of a serious phone conversation.  It is a real challenge to focus on something when your twins are using you as the free space in their obnoxiously loud game of tag.

     I’m at a loss and could use some serious advice.  Somebody out there MUST have some ideas in their back pocket, other than opening up a good can of whoop ass.  So, what do you do to preoccupy your clan while making phone calls?  Do tell….