Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday Party Anxiety Part 87-or-So (or "The Greasy Rat")

Amazingly, I’m not referring to Samantha’s upcoming birthday party this Sunday, although I will say that has been its own source of anxiety (for reasons that I will not bore you with here). No, I’m talking about the party of a classmate. Coming soon to a Chuck E. Cheese near us.

Now do you get what I’m talking about?

I’ve been sitting on the invitation for weeks, debating the pros and cons, but keep coming up with far more cons. Like germs, for one. Don’t people have their own little pet names for that place with the word “germ” placed prominently in the title? I’ve actually never been there, but I picture a chaotic, louder, more crowded, grimier version of Dave & Busters, where I have been…once. I picture a place where children’s greasy fingerprints obscure video game screens and wet bottoms have left their marks on chairs and the backs of horses on mini-merry-go-rounds. Where a single cough gets lifted on water droplets into the humid air and wafts in slow-motion, spreading silently, to settle gently into the nostrils of healthy, breathing children. Where picked noses and scratched bums abound, unwashed hands touching oh-so-touchable buttons and toys. Yep, germs are the biggest con.

Then there’s the issue of my developmentally-delayed child with somewhat questionable environmentally-appropriate behavior and an even more questionable attention span. Do I really picture her participating and having a good time there? I’m also concerned about trying to keep track of her amidst the chaos. And what happens when she decides she wants to push the fun, flashing buttons on a game that another child is playing and has a meltdown because I am busy prying her little fingers off while she screams “no!” Am I worried for nothing? I keep thinking that she just wouldn’t know how to act in a place like this, and think that she should probably be a little older before I attempt it. To be honest, I really don’t know what’s inside a Chuck E. Cheese. But I remember how much she didn’t want to participate in the activities at the last two birthday parties she attended (was that my fault for telling her there’d be pizza and cake?), and am now convinced it’ll happen again. Maybe I’ll skip the pizza/cake conversation this time…

I could be way off-base. I could be totally underestimating my child (again).  I could just lighten up and give her the chance to have fun with her peers.  I think I might be being a bit unfair here.  I just love how blogging brings me full-circle on issues sometimes, just by virtue of the magical way thoughts in my head spill out into letters on a computer screen.  *sigh*



Renee said...

I haven't bee there for a few years but I didn't think it was that bad. Wesley was less than two and he had a good time. (the party was for a 5 y.o.) I tend to ignore germs and not worry.

Now I am having a lot of anxiety over Wesley's upcoming party. This will be the first real party we have and I tend to worry about it in the middle of the night.

Cathy said...

I read the germ portion of your post to my husband...we both got a lot of giggles out of it. But...we feel the same way about the place. Mark just said to me, "We aren't ever going to have a party for Lily at that place, are we?!?"

I'm curious to read what you decide. I hope your little birthday girl has a great day on Sunday.

Monica Crumley said...

Welcome to the (sometimes gross) world of children. I might've felt that way with my first... heck I washed and sterilized his Binky every time it fell! But, I didn't do him a service by coddling him. When #3 came around, I might've rinsed her Binky, maybe. With John Michael, who's been my healthiest child so far!, I just wipe it off and make sure nothing visibly gross is on it. I know... probably causing you some anxiety just by posting this... Chuck E Cheese is definitely not a clean place and I understand your concerns. My 1st and 2nd kids had 1 party each there around age 4. Now Greta wants her next bday party there (she just turned 5 so maybe she'll change her mind next year). I don't choose that place... rather it's a place kids choose. I'm OK w/ going there once in a great moon (every couple years :-)) and if you're worried about Sammie wandering, bring an older child or teen of a friend along to follow her around and guide her... keep her safe. It's too much to ask a parent to climb up a tube to pull out a frightened child, which has happened to me! Anyway, whatever you decide... it's just for 2 hours out of one day and will make for many happy children, I'm sure... even if it causes the parents some anxiety. :-)

stephanie said...

We just had Bella's party at CC! I dodged to for years but she cornered me this year and there was no way out. i have been subjected to that place far too many times for other children's birthdays.

My take was just about where you are now, but it's cleaner than it sounds or even should be. And for all the times we've been there no one has ever gotten sick. I'm almost ashamed to say Miss Em was there when she was two weeks old. Yes five days out of the NICU.

OK I have to also say she wasn't sick in the NICU. She had a nine day stay because she just had to adjust to breathing. No biggie.

Anyway I can calm your fears about the germs but, as far as how Sammi will deal ,is your call. You know your girl!
Oh and the parties are really run well.

stephanie said...

BTW, let us know what you decide.

And Sammi's a Princess . Come to my blog and get her crown!!

Heather said...

I HATE HATE HATE Chuckie Cheese. I've hated it from when Jared was little, and even now it isn't much better. It isn't quite as gross as you envision it, but it is chaotic, crowded, loud, and no one watches their kids or disciplines them.
I would say if you want to attmept it, try it on a weekday afternoon for your first time.

Carrie said...

I'm not a CC fan personally b/c it's crowded and noisy, but I love parties and love my children going to parties, so I would be on the fence about this one too. Good luck, let us know the outcome!

Vicki said...

I hate that place with a passion! At least on weekends, as someone said before it is so chaotic and no one watches their kid. That being said, don't worry about her being inappropriate ( I worry about that w Emme too, Im too crazy about that stuff), there will be all sorts of inappropriateness going on form many other kids (trust me). The thing I worry about there is sensory overload, I get a headache walking in the door!
She may totally have fun so try it if YOU can handle it, she will probably surprise you and have a ball...all germs included LOL

Carol N. said...

I like the suggestion about going during a weekday to see it first.

You could always invite the birthday child for an "instead-of-your-birthday" playdate at an environment you know Sammi does well in. I think the birthday parents would understand.

Dawn said...

I definitely understand all your concerns but I'm going to address them as the "been there, done that mom" because Taylor is 20 years old.

There are times when I still struggle with the should I, shouldn't I syndrome. But I learned that the only way Taylor was going to learn was to "throw" her in there. She needed to go and be a part of things for herself, for you, for the other kids, and even the other kids' parents.

I really took a leap of faith when I took Taylor to her Senior prom this year. Wow, was that scary. Standing in line with Taylor and her date Eric (also special needs) with all those typical teens waiting to get their couples pictures taken was a little hard.

However, she had a blast and the other kids were great. I wouldn't change those memories for anything.

Sorry, I didn't mean to write a blog in your comments section. I just wanted you to know that sometimes you just have to step outside your comfort zone and you'll be really glad you did (99% of the time) *laughs*