I got an email recently from the mother of one of Jonah's best buddies. She wanted to know if Jonah would be available for a birthday party in a few weeks, to which I of course said Heck Yeah! I asked if I could drop him off since I'd have his little sister with me, but the mom assured me that I was more than welcome to bring Evie along. What should have been a welcome, problem-solving statement was, for me, like opening my closet and finding a cackling, knife-wielding clown inside.
The party, I was informed, would be in the Devil's Lair - otherwise known as Chuck E. Cheese.
Have you ever been to a Chuck E. Cheese? I have. Once, pre-kids. And I swore I'd never go again. In case you haven't had the pleasure, I'll sum it up for you: all of your senses being violated by siren-pitched noises and garishly flashing lights as you try to keep track of your kids, who can't hear you over the explosions of sound and strobing hyper-stimulation surrounding them. Add to that the stuffing of said kids with pizza, soda and cake, then setting them loose for more whirling dervish spinning while you try to keep tabs on the ooziest children in the room so you can steer your own clear of them. But of course they always end up playing together in the ball pit together, don't they?! Suddenly your kid is best friends with the green snot stranger, and they're practicing their sharing skills! "Here, have some of my soda! Nah, just use my straw, it's cool!"
I. Am. So. Scared.
Because my daughter was also invited, I was informed by a friend that it would probably be kind of rude to leave both kids at the party and come back at the last possible second to pick them up while holding my breath and brandishing wet wipes in each hand. I tried to think of a way to ask the mother if she'd really mind all that much if I did so, but I like her and didn't want to come across as 'that parent'. You know, the complete slacker kind. Because in fact, I'm not. I can power through a tedious little kid birthday party just as well as the next gal. I just have this thing about...crowds. And...loud noises. And crowds and loud noises and flashing lights and clanging bells and shrieking kids and cloying colors and deafening music and tear-streaked faces during sugar-crazed meltdowns, all at the same time.
I'm sure I'll survive. Won't I? I mean, this is one of those situations that separates the warrior mothers from the lightweights, right? I can do this! For the sake of the children! Also, I did some research and learned that they sell beer at Chuck E. Cheese.
Alright, I'm in.