or, If I Ever Go to Chuck E. Cheese Again It Will Be Too Soon.
It is school vacation week in the state of New Hampshire. I still find this a phenomenon, even after living up here for 12 years: that the last week in February and the last week in April are school vacations. No school. Supposedly (file this under Old Wives' Tales, I'm sure) it's to break the cycle of sickness; that by getting the kids out of the enclosed classrooms the flu can't take hold.
Something like that.
When I taught I loved if from a not having to face the daily grind viewpoint, but from a lesson continuity viewpoint, it was not so good.
A disappointment that surfaced this year is that apparently the northern part of the state doesn't have the same week off so we couldn't go visit my nephews.
Anyway. A woman who I know from church (and would like to get to know better) invited me and the children to Chuck E. Cheese's this week. I hate CEC. But, we live kind of far from this family and Sam gets along with the older boy so I figured we could have our once-a-year visit.
Remember, it's school vacation.
The place was mobbed (as if it's ever not. I really don't understand who goes there. If everyone only went there once a year, as we do, surely it would go out of business. Wouldn't it?). At one point, there were people lined up at the entrance to get in. I guess the place was at capacity and someone would have to leave before any more could come in.
Let me digress here to say that CEC does get the "kid check" thing right. The children and parents each get a matching ultraviolet number stamp that they check before leaving. Some of the indoor playgrounds I've taken them to don't even care if a kid walks out the door unsupervised.
So I had a great time talking to the mom, getting to know her better, discussing kindergarten issues, potty training issues (we both have 3-yr-olds, too), husbands working late, how mobbed the place was, etc. The older boys were obsessed with a roller coaster ride thing (with a screen and moving seat) while the younger ones did a pretty good job of not running off into the crowd. We ate pizza (the pizza there is good, maybe to provide a little window of solace for all the aggravated mothers) and tried to navigate the land of ill-behaved and unmonitored children while not saying overtly negative things about them that our children would overhear and repeat.
And then it was time to leave.
Both my children were fussing and complaining and then there was screaming in the car and I had to pull over . . . it was not pretty. I was aggravated that we'd stayed there so long and annoyed at their entitled behavior. They were (most likely) tired and overstimulated. I totally lost it and screamed at them (I told you it wasn't pretty).
I was still aggravated when we got home and sent them to opposite parts of the house and took three Tylenol. I did go talk to each of them individually and tell them I should not have screamed and I was sorry. We also talked about "doing everything without complaining and arguing" and the right response when it's time to leave somewhere. Then I took 3 ibuprofen.
Then, because it was nice (for February in New England that means 45), we went over to a nearby middle school that has a track and they rode their scooters on the tennis court because the track had a sign about no bikes or wheeled things.
We came home and I took more Tylenol. The rest of the night was fine and ultimately I did get to everything on my to-do list (main source of my irritation was that list mocking me for my ambitions), but I plan to assiduously avoid the house of the pizza mouse from now on.