It's a darn good thing
tha I left my camera in LA last weekend when we went down for a family wedding. Because if I hadn't, I would have taken it with me Saturday to the Evil Pizza Place that shall remain Nameless. The one that makes you pay $10 to get in the door for their very unimpressive buffet, even though you will only have 2 slices of doughy-in-the-middle pizza and a small salad. I would have ended up taking pictures of my devil-spawn children NOT having any fun and complaining constantly.
It would have been a waste of pixels.
But because I know that you want the gory details, I shall tell you. But you will have to imagine it all, for alas, there are no pictures. And it's a darn good thing.
There had been no way around it. Adam had his last soccer game, and with all last-soccer-games comes the poorly planned end-of-season party and the "You showed up so you get an overpriced plastic trophy that your parents paid for". So while Guy went to a funeral, I wrestled 5 reluctant kids back into the van to first go buy an over-priced Gluten Free Pizza to smuggle into the Evil Pizza Place a half hour away (in case you were wondering, gluten-free in this context means "disgusting if not eaten immediately"). Upon our arrival to the second pizza joint, the perky staff at the EPP graciously accepted my $40, which included full price for the child who could not eat their glutinous glop. As drinks cost extra, I announced that water wound be fine. No, that was not a question, it was a demand. No child dare argue.
The party room that had been reserved was just the right size for a small group of pigmies, and so we managed to locate the only empty table in the nearby dining room. Whilst playing the food relay game with each child from the buffet area and back to our table, a courtesy-challenged old lady plopped herself down in one of our chairs and refused to move. "No English" she mumbled.
Oh, yeah, I believe you, Grannie.
I move all our crap to a dinning room somwhere in Outter Mongolia.
It takes 4 trips. I stomp the whole way.
Tessa's $5 "all you can eat" consisted of 4 cucumber slices, a pile of hard boiled egg crumbs, and two helpings of ice cream. Oh, but don't forget her cold, hard, $10 toppings-congealed on a gluten-free frizbee. She ate 1 and 1/2 slices.
I told Ethan he had to eat enough to last him for the entire day because I had to pay adult price for him. He had 4 slices of pizza and 5 ice cream cones.
Frankly, I think he could have done better.
Later, we packed into Party Room #3 to witness the awards ceremony. Some words were said, which no one could hear on account of the 2 kinds of music that were playing and the carnival on the other side of the partition.
Back out to the zoo-room.
No, make that the bathroom.
Jonah stuck his hands in the toilet during the 1.7 seconds it took me to pull up my pants. The girls enjoyed the automated everything in the bathroom.
Yeah, because that's why we came here, to play with the hand-dryer.
In a black out, may you never find yourself in the potty of the EPP.
Now back to the zoo-room. Not just arcade games, but rides and a playland.
Somebody kill me now.
Time for some math: Two girls + 10 tokens does not equal 5 games each when each game costs two tokens. I lug 27 pound Jonah around the arcade for 30 minutes while they play the "change your stinkin' mind every 4 seconds game".
Finally, no more tokens.
But now for my favorite part: the TICKETS. The meaningless, pretend the kid did something of value and reward him with tickets to trade for CHEAP PLASTIC CRAP THAT WILL BE BROKEN OR LOST IN THE CAR BEFORE WE GET HOME.
Now it is time for more math: 16 tickets divided by 2 girls = 1 cheap toy dinosaur.
But wait, by some freakish miracle, the pimply-faced boy behind the counter gives EACH of the girls a cheap toy dinosaur! One pink, one purple! He even guessed their favorite colors right!
Wait for it...
Tessa begins to cry. She didn't want THAT toy, she wanted a DIFFERENT toy.
I stand in the middle of the chaos and yell
"I HATE THIS PLACE! WE ARE NEVER COMING BACK HERE AGAIN!"
but my voice is swallowed by the dinging bells and wailing sirens
of the games and rides.
I grab the pink dinosaur out of her hand and march to the nearest trash can.
A sudden awareness and simultaneous appreciation for pink dinosaurs
sweeps over Tessa.
"No, Mama! I changed my mind! I like my dinosaur!!!"
Lucky dinosaur, that's all I've got to say.
Tokenless, we fill the last half hour in the baby play area waiting for Adam to finish up. I spend 67% of my time rescuing Jonah from the bottom of the slide and the impending bloody lip that I wish to avoid from some kid named Josh with freakishly large feet.
Jonah cries. He wants to nurse. No, wait, back to the bottom of the slide. No, nurse, no, slide...no...
Ellie whines that she is sooooo bored and she hates this place.
Finally, the boys cash in Adams tickets, everyone grabs a last cookie and the remains of the cold pizza-cracker, and 2 hours and 37 minutes after we first arrived, we straggle to the van. Tessa cries the whole way because she couldn't have the cookie. It has gluten. A tiny vein bursts in my right eye.
But wait. Do you hear that?
Is that air whistling out of the giant inflatable hammer that Adam chose for his prize?
Oh, why yes. Yes it is.
"It's OK, Mom," Adam says quickly, as I rather animatedly throw the van into a sharp U-turn.
"OH, NO it is NOT ok! That is a $40 hammer, young man, and by darn, you are going to get one that works!"
I march into the EPP and announce to the room at large that my son WILL be going back in, hand stamp or not, to trade in his toy for one that works.
No one argues.
Back at home, we tumble out of the van into the driveway, a mass of shoes and diaper bags and pizza boxes.
And then it happened.
You were hoping it would, I can tell.
It began with a whiny cry.
"I lost my dinosaur!"
Oh. My. BLEEEEEEEP.
It was just under the seat.
But I have to tell you,
it's a darn good thing.