Saturday, February 04, 2006

Birthday party mayhem

For more than a year Matt and I have contemplated starting a blog. With two young children and only one nearby relative, we are forever feeling guilty for not sharing the daily joys and challenges of our home. We were always looking for the perfect day to start (Christmas? New Years Day? the kids' birthdays?), and of course the perfect title. After being reminded last night while scrapbooking that ideally we all just hop in wherever we other words, there is no perfect feels like the day! An overcrowded Chuck E. Cheese birthday party on this rainy Saturday afternoon provided the perfect title, but more on that in a minute. (It doesn't hurt that the title is also borrowed from a program I facilitate at the college where I work!)

We always struggle to decide who attends birthday parties with Kyra, our four and a half year old. With twenty plus kids in her day care classroom, there are plenty there for the taking. I'm more extraverted than Matt and actually have moments of real pleasure talking with parent friends while the kids enjoy one another. Pleasure is not a word Matt would associate with random adult mingling, but he is willing to participate in our continuing attempts to show some measure of equality to our kids. Matt took Kyra to the last party when I was away for the weekend, so today was my turn (despite that Kyra announced when we began our drive to Chuck E. Cheese that she had wanted her dad to go!). I should have known to turn around when the entire Chuck E. Cheese parking lot was FULL, but Kyra was excited and I wasn't wise enough to come up with a reasonable excuse, so I pulled into the mini-mall parking lot next door and we hiked our way over. To say the place was packed is an understatement. I was yet again grateful to have a slightly shy child who sticks close by in crowds.

After an hour or so of pizza (Kyra doesn't like it!), dancing with Chuck E. and fellow employees (I'm not sure you could pay me enough!) and saying, "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me," over and over as we all tried to navigate too little space for too many people, the kids were set free to hit the toys and games. A couple of Kyra's friends were heading for the tunnels, suspended high overhead; hoards of kids were pouring in and out of the slide and climbing structure leading up to the maze of tubes. Kyra looked up for a moment, but quickly decided to try one of the "hit a duck on the head" kinds of games off to the side. She continued to glance back, however, and it wasn't long before she decided to join the throngs of kids. As she climbed skyward, she occasionally glanced back and waved. I cringed as I watched one of her friends get kicked in the face by another child; I was certain Kyra would be next!

When Kyra reached the tubes, she turned right, entering the maze rather than taking the "easy out" of the slide right in front of her. I gathered our belongings and prepared to follow her from the ground, but I quickly lost sight of her shadow and just stood off to the side contemplating how long I needed to calmly wait for her reappearance. After a few minutes of no sightings, I began to scan the room for one of her day care friends to send in after her. Suddenly I saw her, face pressed up against one of the clear plastic windows, hands banging for my attention. Tears were streaming down her face and, though I couldn't hear her, I could read her lips as she cried, "MOMMY....MOMMY....MOMMY!" over and over again. I waved my arms wildly, using all body language dialects to direct her toward the giant "steps" she had used to climb into the tunnels. Behind her was a larger, rougher (I presumed!) boy, and I was eager to get her away from all those gigantic kids.

She slowly, tearfully made her way down to me, and I hugged her tight as I wondered whether this was a "get back on the horse" moment, or whether we should head for the door. We compromised with a decision to stay at the restaurant, but head for a quieter play area (is there such a thing on a rainy Saturday?). When I was convinced she wouldn't burst into tears at the mere mention of the tunnel, I asked her what had happened. She explained that she had been unable to find the slide, and that the "big boy" (her words!) had seen her crying and asked if she wanted him to lead her back down. I wanted to find him, hug him and ask to meet his mom. How wrong those first impressions can be....

So now we arrive back where we started--at the christening of this new blog with a fitting title. We continue to be amazed at what we learn about ourselves, each other and the world around us. Stick around, read and comment, and be amazed yourselves, as we look beyond first impressions.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Welcome to the blogosphere! :-) It's been quite therapeutic for me. You know, I've never actually been through a Chuck E. Cheese fiasco - amazingly. I think I've been avoiding it. Hope Kyra enjoyed the rest of her time there...