Before leaving to pick up Robby from school on Friday, I quickly swallowed a couple Tylenol, slurped down with a cup of coffee. I didn't need the Tylenol or the caffeine jolt from the coffee, but I knew that I would appreciate my prophylactic efforts in a few hours. I had promised Robby and his friend Rowan that I would take them to Chuck E. Cheese after school.
I'll be honest, going to Chuck E. Cheese is not my favorite family adventure. The lights, sirens, screams and various arcade noises, mixing with the aromas of cheap pizza, quickly put me into sensory overload. I also have an undiagnosed gambling problem which the "games" at Chuck E Cheese seem to bring to the forefront. I have been known to burn through my tokens almost as quickly as the kids. Knowing the rush I receive when I hit the jackpots and when the tickets start streaming from the machine, I have no doubt that I need to stay away from slot machines that pay cash in casinos.
This trip to Chuck E. Cheese I was able to keep my gambling compulsions under control simply because I was occupied taking care of Timmy. Perched in his stroller, he was mesmerized by the same features that prompted my Tylenol earlier in the day. Despite being overdue for his nap, Timmy remained alert and awake throughout the evening. The novelty of the arcade never grew old in his eyes.
Robby and Rowan ditched me as soon as they had their tokens in hand. They used to sit with me at the table, nibble on pizza and talk game strategy. Now they only talk to me because they know that it would be rude to ask for more tokens without an obligatory conversation. I have been relegated to chauffeur and piggy bank.
Robby may not want to hang out with me at Chuck E. Cheese anymore, but Timmy was delighted to spend the time with me. Of course, he was strapped into his stroller so he was a captive audience. While the two older kids tackled the games in their quest for 1000 tickets, Timmy and I meandered around the building.
I spotted a little car ride-on amusement and thought that Timmy might enjoy it. I sat him down and strapped him into the seat. His face lit up and I could tell that he was delighted to be sitting in the toy car. I fed the token into the slot and gave myself a silent pat on the back for being a good mom. I knew that my little baby was soon going to be over the moon with his first ride.
Wrong! As soon as the ride begin to slowly move forward his happy face morphed into one of pure terror. He instinctively reached for me, clenching my shirt with his fist and burying his face in my chest. He was only on the ride long enough for me to unbuckle him and remove him from the amusement torture of the moving toy car. Only after he calmed down did I realize that the ride took a photo of each rider when the amusement started. This photo is priceless and is almost worth the unintentional terror the ride inflicted on my little Timid Timmy.
Before the ride started to move.
Immediately after the ride started to move.