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Party at Chuck E. Cheese's - a Recap and a Lesson Learned

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Party at Chuck E. Cheese's - a Recap and a Lesson Learned

Do you see this creepy, child-sized, helium-filled rat?

The rat balloon and a cup of about 100 tokens (which spilled in the diaper bag and are mostly still floating around in there, yay) are all we have left to remind us of the chaos that was Jack's 3rd Birthday Party.

Yesterday Charles asked me if I would have another party at Chuck E. Cheese.  The answer was a quick and loud "NO."

But not for the reasons you might think.

It all turned out okay and we didn't have to clean or provide any food - but - it was a mistake to have a party at a crowded, kid-filled location for a kid who doesn't

Like all three-year-olds (I assume), Jack is still working on his social skills.  He is easily overstimulated and overwhelmed and trying to find his spot in this world.  As a result, he's kind of unpleasant around new kids  (actually, make that pretty much any kid who goes near his toys or who he perceives as a threat, and he's like America on defense...everyone's a threat).  He gets a little worried, thinking all of the children on this planet are out to get his toys, and truth be told it can all be a little exhausting.

How many times in one day can I say, "Don't worry about other people," "Be nice!" and "They aren't going to get your toys/take your cake pop/touch our car!"

But this is nothing new.  I *know* this.  And yet, we still chose to have his party at Chuck E. Cheese's (where a kid can be a kid!).

I already explained my logic for having the party at another location.  What I didn't touch on was some random need (of mine) to accommodate everyone else...making sure the kids would have a good time, no one would be left out, etc.  What I missed in that equation was my own child's needs.

They say (I don't know who, exactly, "they" are, but I've seen this advice in more than one place) that you should invite one kid per year.  So in this case, Jack was turning three - so we should have invited three kids.  Charles suggested this.  I turned him down.

In hindsight, a little party with cupcakes (and no presents) with the neighborhood kids would have been perfect.  And then, we could do it again next weekend with family.  Small, relaxed get-togethers that would have been in Jack's comfort zone and that he might have actually enjoyed.  He says he had fun at Chuck E. Cheese's, but that's up for debate.  Between trying to hit strange children and yelling at his party guests to stay away from him presents, he was pretty on-edge.  And you can only imagine how I felt about all of that...

So, while it was fun to see everyone and nice to have the food/decorations/party favors all taken care of (and shout out to Chuck E. Cheese's party organizers here, they did an amazing job and I can only hope the tip we left was big enough to thank them for their hard work!), I would not do this again.  Not for a three-year-old still working on his social skills, anyway.  For a kid between the ages of 5-7 I think it would be a big fat WIN (and it was a huge hit with the party guests who were old enough to know the real value of tokens and tickets!).

Lesson learned...birthdays are about the person celebrating the birthday.  Always.  Next time, Jack gets an age-and-personality-appropriate party (actually, make that an age-and-personality-appropriate get-together...I'm all partied out).

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