Chuck E. Cheese Lessons

Chuck E. Cheese has a lot to offer. I didn’t always feel that way. Before I was a parent, I was an uncle. I went to the occasional Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. Kids running around, elevated noise level, and large rodent wandering the premises: no thanks.

Well, things change. My children love Chuck E. Cheese! Reasonably priced, seating and Wifi – Daddy doesn’t mind it either. So, off to Chucky we went to kill a couple of hours (it is an in between week you know – I don’t like saying that. I believe that time is limited and should be savored. Anyway, I gained much more from the trip to Chucky Cheese than simply a pleasant diversion.

Prior to leaving BR, my 8 year-old, was scouring his closet. He was certain he had tokens and ticket vouchers from previous visits.

“Daddy, I found tokens, but I think I have more. Can you please help me look?”

“Okay.” I begin looking in the top shelf of his closet but do not see anything. “Nothing there.”

“Move the bear and the piggy bank.”

“Wait, here’s something,” I hand it to him.

“Daddy, it’s a token. Look, it’s a Chuck E. Cheese token.”

“I see that,” I grin slightly, trying to share in his enthusiasm.

He runs over to the plastic bag with other tokens. “I’ve got 19 tokens. Look, the coupon is for 83 tickets!”

When we get to Chuck E. Cheese, I purchase $10 worth of tokens and give BR some (the remainder go to SY – more on him later). He immediately runs off, cup of tokens in hand. Side note – one more thing I like about Chuck E. Cheese is that they stamp your hand as you walk in as a form of security to ensure groups exit together. So, the kids might get away, but they are not getting out.

BR returns to me later proud of his haul of newly won tickets. When I ask him how he got so many tickets, he tells me his M.O. He found the games that give the most tickets and plays them exclusively. He asks me to hold his tickets and stalks out more ticket-producing entertainment. When the tokens run out, he pleads for more, ready to forego ice cream (our usual method of persuading the boys to leave C.E.C.). I oblige.

Ultimately, BR ends up with over 300 tickets. He looks over his options for overpriced prizes (kind of like they used to do on Wheel of Fortune. I’ll have a deck of cards for $50, a one-year subscription to the fruit of the month club for $499…). He ultimately decides to retain his vouchers, determining that the available prizes are not worth his stash. I buy him ice cream anyway.

Back to SY. Ignoring his brother’s advice to check his closet for tokens and vouchers, SY runs out to the car and buckled himself in. When we arrived at Chuck E. Cheese, SY asks me to hold his tokens – not realizing that BR had more – and wanders off to the climbing area. He climbs up and down the structure a few times – looking out occasionally to ensure I was in the neighborhood. We exchange smiles, and he continues. From there, he makes his way to a game he has enjoyed in the past. It’s a simulated roller coaster that gives no tickets. We ride it together four times. After his usual stab at a driving game that he can’t control and provides no tickets, we find a few other games he likes. He plays and moves on. When BR comes by looking for a token, he gives him one (he has already given me two – I like the sports games).

SY cashes out his tickets, proud that his voucher reads 21. We go over to the prize area and SY picks out stickers. He instructs me to hold them and promptly forgets all about them. He enjoys his favorite ice cream – ices actually. By the time we are home he must go directly to the bathtub as he as worn as much as he has eaten.

With our visit over, Chuck E. Cheese has served it’s purpose. We have enjoyed a couple of hours. And I have learned more about my children.

BR – goal oriented, delays gratification, takes readily.

SY – fun oriented, easily gratified, shares readily.

Thanks, Chuck.