me vs. the arcade

If you read my earlier post “What was I thinking?” you know that I do not like arcades.  They are loud, chaotic and stressful for me.  I don’t have an explanation why it stresses me out, it just does.  I don’t like letting my kids run around like wild animals in public either so that makes it worse.  Plus, my two children under age 6 need to be accompanied so I have no choice but to enter the den of chaos.

I know the reason for putting an arcade in a family restaurant.  The kids pump quarters in the machines ad nauseum while the parents eat their dinner.  It is a stellar idea.

SO, one time when Robert was out of town (of course he was – these things only happen when he is out of town), Hattie was invited to a birthday party at the big pizza place in town.  The arcade at this particular pizza place doubles as the party room.  Yippee!  With Robert gone, I attended the party with all three girls in tow.  We got there and greeted the birthday boy and were immediately seated for our pizza dinner.

I have never seen children gobble down pepperoni so fast.  Even Hattie, who takes a half hour to eat a spoonful of rice one grain at a time, finished her pizza at a Guinness record pace.  Within minutes, all of the children have choked down their dinner and are chomping at the bit to get their tokens and hit the slots.  Abigail is old enough to be on her own so I gave her some tokens and she headed off.  Hattie is still a little uncoordinated and can’t read yet so she needs my help.  Laura just wants to run from game to game and screech.  Yea!

Hattie made her first game choice and was able to manage it with minimal instruction.  I set off to pull Laura away from dominating the driving game and I hear Hattie yell “Mom, I WON!”  Laura and I go dashing over to Hattie and sure enough, she has hit the jackpot.  I am watching the game tally the score when I realize that Hattie is already on to game #2.  The first game starts spitting out tickets and I hear “Mom, I WON AGAIN!”  I turn to see that game start churning out tickets and Hattie is running to the 3rd game.  But the 1st game is still barfing out tickets in a pile at my feet!  And, oh no, WHERE IS LAURA???

Luckily, this arcade is designed so that the door back into the restaurant is not easily noticed by toddlers so Laura was not far.  Also, lucky for me, this was a birthday party with lots of moms.  It only took one look at my harried face for other moms at the party to come to my rescue.

In the end, Abigail won 48 tickets.  With those she “bought” 3 pieces of gum and a neon eraser.  Hattie, the uncoordinated child, won 576 tickets in less than 30 minutes.  She bought 5 pieces of candy and a parachuting Dora that promptly broke in the car on the way home.  Gotta love it….


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