How to Survive the World of Family Entertainment

Last weekend, my fellow Hot Mess Mama Lisa and I (or rather our children) were invited to celebrate the birthday of one of our favorite 7-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese. We took note of the potential anxiety associated with (a) social functions, (b) places with tokens, and (c) confined spaces where large rats are aloud to run amok. There were sobs, meltdowns, and tantrums. And our kids were nowhere near us. But through the power of friendship and introverted bonding (separately, in our own homes of course), we pep talked, reassured ourselves of our survival, and braced for impact.

Coming down from the adrenaline, I am still shocked to report we did indeed survive. And it was not that bad. May have even been fun. Who knew? After heavy thought, I chock this completely up to simple timing. Turns out the mornings are definitely the time to go, with [theoretically] clean rides, fresh pizza, and well-rested children.

Unfortunately, the tallest rat in existence — even for Chucks across ‘merica — wasn’t too happy to be there all bright-eyed and scaly-tailed. And while I noticed his high-five snubs and shoulder droops that I can only assume were accompanied with a sigh-and-stink-eye combo hidden behind that ratty mask, the children, with their glistening eyes and euphoric grins, didn’t notice one bit.

The afternoons, however, are apparently NOT the same. I’ve heard horror stories that would make your breast milk curdle. I’ve heard nightmare recounts that would make you Tourette-blurt ‘IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!’ and then gasp with hand over mouth at your guffaw during the morning coffee break. I’ve heard the afternoons are like Dante’s Inferno where the fifth circle of Hell is the cesspool combination of stale pizza, twitching adults, and exhausted children who are forcing that last burst of energy before crashing into your shins and landing into a hot mess pile of snot and sobs at your feet. Boogers on the rides don’t help this particularly special time of day.

But no, the quiet, serene early morning gathering of just five 15-child parties enabled us to survive. We even realized they have beer and wine available for those parents needing noise mitigation. (pssst…Chuck E. Cheese, you should think about mimosas. Jussayin’). 

I will tell you this: we didn’t get off scot-free. A wee bit of panic ensued. Or nausea?

Photo_012 But over all, the kids had a great time and loved that pizza, cake, and ski ball.


Okay, let’s be honest. My husband loved ski ball slightly more than our daughter, who was just as happy to hand the ball to dad and be the ticket collector than actually play.


So yes, these introverted hot messes survived one of the quintessential American family entertainment establishments since the late ’70s. Our advice? GO IN THE MORNING! And perhaps bring a mimosa sippy cup for mama? You may need a mamosa to quell those introverted nerves. Even in the morning.Photo_015