The Day Time Stood Still

Do you ever feel like time stands still? I’ve heard that when a tragedy happens, time seems to stop. I remember being in Pathophysiology and watching the second hand on the wall clock crawl like a turtle. Sitting on hard bleachers during your child’s practice can also seem like an eternity. Last week, I discovered another place where time stands still.

Chuck E. Cheese.

In a weak moment during spring break, my kids convinced me that going to Chuck E. Cheese was a great idea. Now, this was only after the trampoline/ninja warrior gym we were originally going to go to was packed, so my kids opted to do this another day when it wasn’t as crowded. Because, heaven forbid, the children be bored. I think my kids think that being bored is some sort of punishment. Like if I’m not entertaining them every day when their friends aren’t around, I’m somehow the mean mom. No, children, I’m not mean, I’m just not your cruise director. But on this particular day, I decided to cave and took them to the place germs go to spawn, Chuck E. Cheese.

Upon walking in, the smell of greasy pizza and sweaty kids made me question my decision. Pair that with the blinking lights from 50 arcade games and kiddie music blaring from everywhere and I knew my fate was sealed. I was going to die here. Right here on this ‘80s carpet with old pizza crust and stray tickets.

We go to buy tokens and I told them that when the tokens run out we’re done and going home. Once tokens are distributed, they take off, each to their own games. I go find the cleanest looking table with the least amount of trash to sit and scroll through all the social media. Judge away, helicopter parents. Turns out that takes all of 10 minutes. This is about the same time Caitlin and Blake run up to me and give me plastic cards with their pictures on them to hold until the end of time.

Getting bored, I go find my kids to see what they’re playing. Paxton can always be found playing some sort of racing game. He doesn’t care about getting tickets, he just wants to simulate driving. Unfortunately, wrecking in simulation and wrecking in real life have very different outcomes. Luckily he’s only 11 and we’ve still got time to work on his skills.

I look at my phone to check the time. I feel like we’ve been here at least 30 minutes. What? 16 minutes?!? That can’t be right! Surely we’ve been here longer than that! I really am going to die here.

I found Caitlin playing a bow and arrow simulation game. The more targets you hit, the more tickets you get. She was a decent shot but kept missing the bonus shot at the end. You had to hit an apple that was sitting on someone’s head.

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I asked if I could give it a go to which she obliged since she knew if I could hit the apple, she could win 25 more tickets. No one’s ever called Caitlin a dummy. So I line up my arrow and find that when the timer starts, the bullseye moves just the slightest bit back and forth. Oh, those wicked arcade games! Always so tricky! I kept my hand as steady as possible and shot my arrow.

BULLSEYE!!!! 25 TICKETS!!!! I’m not gonna lie, I was more excited than I should’ve been to hit that apple. Then I realized that I was in Chuck E. Cheese, the place where adult coolness goes to die. I was fine. Caitlin was pumped and wanted to move on to Skeeball. Ah, Skeeball. So many memories from my youth. I love Skeeball. I have hope that I’m going to hit that 10,000 hole every time and every time I’m disappointed. I never learn. I go for it every time and get the lousy 1,000 hole. It’s still my favorite game though.

Blake is shooting basketballs and missing most of them but he keeps trying and hoping just like his mom with Skeeball. Blake likes most anything where you’re shooting something. A ball, a watergun, you name it. He was in between games when he noticed the big Cheese himself walking by. That’s right Chuck E. had come out to see his pint size fans. They were all crowded around him and singing whatever song he was singing. Then he started making it rain tickets on the little children. Like manna from heaven. These kids became lowly beggars crawling all over the ‘80s carpet trying to get as many tickets as possible. I thought it was a bit pathetic then I noticed Blake was down there with them. Sigh.

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(This was before Chuck made it rain)

The tokens finally ran out and it was time to feed the tickets into the ticket counting machine. This could take an hour if you have to put them in 1 or 2 at a time. IMG_4913

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(We had a lot of one offs and twofers)

The best is when you have a long chain of tickets to feed the ticket monster, alas, we only a couple of those.

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(Paxton got the bullseye on his own. You would’ve thought he won $1 million dollars)

After the counting was finished, we went through the excruciating task of picking out prizes. I can’t even. It takes so long for my kids to decide. I took a picture of their loot so you could see how well my $20 was spent. Looong sigh.

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Then, with much anticipation on my part, we got to exit the building. Hallelujah! I survived the hour that seemed like an eternity! I can’t remember exactly when, but I’m pretty sure an hour later the kids were asking, “So, what are we going to do now?” Loooooonger sigh.

-Courtney

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