Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Say "Happy," You Say "Shoot Me!"

The Demon Nephew turned three earlier this week, so we all gathered at Chuck E. Cheese yesterday to celebrate the illusion that he was leaving the “terrible twos” behind. I can see why Mr. Cheese’s restaurant might appeal to a small child. Or a coked-up squirrel with ADD. What I can’t understand is the adults who voluntarily involve themselves in this enterprise—and that includes me.

First of all, I have to wonder what the suicide rate is among Mr. Cheese’s employees. I’m guessing the rate is a high number, like “6” or “a friggin’ lot.” If I was put in prison for an unspeakable crime and my punishment was that I had to chant that nonsense about “I say ‘Happy’ you say ‘Birthday’” I’d last about four minutes before I shivved myself. The unfortunates who can endure this ritual deliver their lines with all the enthusiasm of a stroke victim on thorazine, so they must have numbed themselves somehow.

Then there’s the parents. They plan, they organize, they make a cake. They shell out a lot of money. And what’s the upshot? The kid doesn’t want his pizza, he’s bored with the festivities, he’s leery of the mouse with the giant head, and he tears through the presents like a thing that quickly tears through presents. All he wants is more tokens so he can pump them into a machine and cause it to make sounds and flashy lights and such. The children are unanimous about this.

As for the adults invited to the party: we know it’s not about us. We know Birthday Boy likes us, but sees no use for us in a place like this, except as maybe a token source. The best we can do is show up smiling, say “Happy Birthday” when Birthday Boy’s sugar-glazed eyes pause on us, and try to keep the kids from beating each other senseless with the new toy light sabers. We fend off the headache for as long as possible and wonder why Mr. Cheese didn’t have the foresight to build a soundproof room with lots of windows (by which we can observe the chaos) and a fully stocked bar.

Because this isn’t about us, though, there’s no reason not to allow the kids a couple of hours to go Lord of the Flies on a wicked sugar high in a padded, supervised environment. If Demon Nephew gets the green cake he wanted, and he gets some books along with his new cache of trucks, and nobody gets hurt, then I’ll call it a success.

Happy Birthday, Booger.


Casey Sween said...

Just a heads up--three is so much worse than two. At three, they can talk back. Frankly, I think two year olds are a little misrepresented.

Jason said...

He's pretty good most of the time, but he has his Exorcist moments. Three is worse, huh? I suppose that depends on the kid, but I guess I can see that coming.

Note to self: invest in duct tape. To wrap my head in.

Jim said...

Jason,Jason,Jason... "he tears through the presents like a thing that quickly tears through presents"? I'm disappointed like a guy being disappointed by a weak sentence.

Just This Girl said...

Your nephew does look a little devilish. I think it has to do with his forehead/eyebrows. He looks like he's two seconds from devouring his gifts then spewing a firey hell from his mouth and onto the inhabitants of the Cheese, especially that shady mouse.

Picturing you in that place made my day. I'd pay fifty big bucks to see you slug the guy/girl in the mouse costume.

Jason said...

Sometimes weak sentences are fun. I laughed like crazy as I wrote that one (because I'm easily amused). It's similar to my love of bad puns, and if you are who I think you are, you know what I'm talking about.

There are many more angelic shots of the DN, but that one fit the theme of the post better. Someday I'll write something where he can look like the happy little boy he usually is. But I agree. In that picture he looks like he had to put down his pitchfork to get both hands on the gift.
And I wasn't even tempted to punch the mouse. Putting on that costume has to be punishment enough.
Glad I made your day, though.

D. Chmielewski said...

"Lord of the Flies", talk about a blast from the past. Though I have to admit, if you put a pair of broken glasses on the demon nephew picture, I can almost imagine him as Piggy.

Question, when you blog about a 3 year old child, do you ever get concerned that at some time in the future he will google himself and come up with all that you have written about him during his childhood, or do you figure that referring to him as the "Demon Nephew" keeps you safe from an accidental discovery by Googling?

Diana said...

Sometime I'll tell you about the birthday party The Boy had when he was age five. A bowling alley, 25 kindergartners, and me. I shooed away all the mothers who asked if they should stick and around help. It was because I didn't know any better. I do now.

Jason said...


Actually, the nickname thing comes from three sources.

1. In creative nonfiction it's automatic to change the names of those involved, and I probably don't know all the reasons why.

2. Most of the people reading this blog will probably just see names and not make too many connections, unless I write about those people a lot (like Michele, who will bear the brunt of this).

3. I like making up nicknames for people. It's fun, and in a number of years I'll still be calling the Demon Nephew (whose real name is "Josh," but I call him "Booger") all kinds of names. I have a weird name fetish, and I suppose I should blog about that, too.

PG: Never let the ages of the children add up to more than your own age. If The Boy was 5, I'm guessing you were 26 or so, and you got outdone by about 100 years. This is a rule I just made up now.