Adventures Of Fatherhood

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“Wow” was all I could say after two hours at Chuck E Cheese’s last Sunday in Salisbury.

It’s not so much that I was in awe by what takes place there. It’s just no matter how prepared you are it’s still a shock to the senses to spend a considerable amount of time at that place with dozens of kids.

Over the last month, we have spent two afternoons inside Chuck E Cheese for birthday parties. For my nephew’s birthday, all four of us went. For last weekend’s birthday for a couple of Beckett’s classmates, I took him. Pam had birthday party duty the weekend before, but that one was at Trimper’s Rides.

The thing about Chuck E Cheese is the place puts me in sensory overload, and I am assuming I am not alone here.

There is just so much going on it can be a tad overwhelming.

There are kids sprinting around from one game to the next. Video games are making their uniquely annoying sounds. A mouse is strolling between kids and parents with a “Free Tickets” sign encouraging all to follow him somewhere. Kids are crying because they don’t want to share the video games (or maybe that was just Beckett). Drinks are being spilled by distracted kids. Balls from the skee ball games are rolling around the floor. Basketballs are bouncing off parents’ heads. Tickets are spewing out of games. A parent is nearby scraping some cheese off her shoe from a runway slice of pizza that made it into the game area.

All the while, parents are exchanging commiserating looks revealing everyone is feeling the same way. I did find comfort there.

At one point, after wrestling Beckett away from one particular video game he was obsessing on that resulted in one of those drop-to-the-knees temper tantrums that all parents adore, I spotted an interesting sign that got my attention. In small letters, it read, “Miller Lite.”

I looked around the room to see if any other parent was imbibing, but they were not. It’s probably because it was 11:15 in the morning. At that point, amidst all the hysteria, it didn’t seem like a bad idea to me, but I wasn’t going to make that leap alone.

Meanwhile, Beckett had gotten over his agitation, taking his turn dancing with the mouse and trying to convince it to let him have a turn wearing the costume.

As I pulled him away, he was saying, “He’s not sharing, I just want to do a trade, he can wear my hulk costume …”

Halloween is quickly approaching and it’s one of my wife’s favorite days of the year.
Consequently, it’s also become a highlight for my kids.

While it’s still more than a week away, at this point it looks like each kid will have two costumes.

Every year our street dons a theme. In the past, it’s been fraternity row, islands and decades, among others. This year it’s movies.

From what I can tell by looking in boxes around the house and viewing credit card receipts, it’s looking like we are going to be the “Wizard of Oz.” Apparently, I was the last in the house to find out, but that’s probably because my wife knows I start thinking about Halloween the morning before. That’s why she basically does everything and fills me in later on. I like that she does that.

This year I have been paying a little more attention than usual because Beckett and Carson each share an affinity for costumes.

Beckett has been jumping in and out of his Spiderman outfit for months and utilizes any hooded sweat shirt as a cape in a pretty decent Superman impression. On a recent trip to the store, he and Pam came back with a Hulk costume, which included a scary mask, and two hands twice the size of any normal person’s. When he gets decked out in that, and it’s usually a few times each day, it’s quite hilarious.

Carson doesn’t do the entire costume thing. Instead, he is a hat guy. You never know what he’s going to emerge as when he comes out of the hat closet. He could be a construction worker, a police officer, a pirate, a military man, a hunter, a train conductor or a baseball player.

One of his all-time favorites is his Ravens helmet, but the funny thing there is he always puts it on backwards and laughs and laughs.

When we hear him laughing like this, we know we need to run over to the closet because he’s not going to be able to see once he exits. A blinded 2-year-old, who already has little regard for his own safety when he can see, is obviously never a good thing.

Obviously, with this enjoyment for getting dressed up, Halloween is the ideal occasion for them.

Although I know little about the costumes at this point, the plan, as I understand it at this time, is for Pam to be Dorothy, of course. That was a no-brainer I would think.

I am to be the Scarecrow and I am desperately trying not to read too much into that, as the lyrics to “If I Only Had A Brain” dance through my head.

Beckett is all about being the tin man because it involves face paint. That should be interesting to see how that goes over.

Carson is to be the lion, and that’s the only costume I have seen. It has a long tail and the color perfectly matches Carson’s red hair, so that should be a winner.

I have never been a huge Halloween fan in the past, but adding kids to the picture does make it special.

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