Apparently, as one mother so eloquently and gracefully told me, you don't have to be careful at Chuck E Cheese. Either that or her kids don't have to be careful and everyone else does. In my shock and awe in hearing this strange new concept on the first time, I failed to ask which of those two statements applied. Nevertheless, from the horses mouth, being careful is not what we should expect from our kids as they run through the play area, weaving around equipment, climbing down (or up) slides, and over smaller kids.
Logan loves to play with the big kids and for the most part he's pretty good at it. And by good I mean he's able to hold his own without being knocked over and unless he's genuinely hurt he just gets back up and plays some more. On this enlightening Friday night he was waiting for his cousins to take him up into the climby tube thing that floats near the ceiling. He's not quite tall enough to get up the steps on his own and they had fun helping him. As he was waiting two kids about 9 or 10 yrs old come flying down the steps. Mind you, these are the steps to go up...there is a slide to come down. One comes down first with the other chasing him. As the first gets to the bottom step his foot comes in contact with Logan's face. I yell..."hey, hey, hey"...and the boys continue to horse around in this tube, hitting and punching each other and stepping on Logan. After they didn't respond to the universal "hey", I said "knock it off. You guys have to be careful there are little kids around here". That, I promise, was in a very sweet tone knowing that they were playing and didn't mean to kick Logan, at least not the first time. They looked at me a little funny then left the area and Logan kept playing.
A few minutes later bigger feet started to make their way down from above us. This time it was definitely a mom. I told Logan "come on baby, let's let her out", and moved him so she could get out". This is where the epiphany happened. As she climbed out she looked at me and said "And...my kids don't have to be careful".
I wish I would have had a tape of my face. I was so dumbfounded. I responded that they were kicking him in the face and they did have to be careful for smaller children. She said it was a play place and her kids could play all they wanted to. I said that the play thing went up (clearly where her and her kids just came down from) and down (pointing to the slide). At this point I'm still dumbfounded. As she walked away she said "maybe your kid is too small to play here".
Apparently she doesn't know Logan, who probably also could have explained to her a lesson in manners himself in paragraph form.
I stood there for a minute really, really upset and more than anything trying to figure out how any mother would really take that stance. They don't have to be careful? It's not like I was telling them to sit in time out or something...just be careful. Something we are all expected to do living in society with each other. I didn't touch them, and only said what I said above, verbatim, and with the exception of the "knock it off" part all of it was in a patient tone. I'm still in shock. And, I definitely wouldn't have expected it from her. She was a well put together woman in her late 30's. She spoke intelligently, of course, with the exception of what she was actually saying. That one really threw me through a loop.
A few minutes later her kids ran by us full-speed, through the designated little kids area, jumped on TOP of the tables in there, and proceeded to climb from table top to table top across that row of tables. I'm not sure if at that point the woman realized how ridiculously out of control her kids were and got embarassed or if she was still irritated that someone asked her kids to be careful, but after they were done standing on the tables (to which i wanted to smugly say..."I suppose they don't have to get off the tables either?"...I didn't by the way...), she quickly shooed them out of the joint. Not before one of them pounded his fists on the glass of one of the games as he walked by it.
Clearly I was out of line.
I'm glad I was in such shock that I didn't say more than I did. The feelings inside me raced too quickly for me to put thoughts together. I know I can have a way of expressing myself in a "righteous anger" sometimes and not only did I consciously not want to do that in front of all the children there, I wanted to make sure I wasn't stooping to her level. But, since I've had the time to think about it I'd thought I'd share some of the things I've thought of to say to her if I were in the situation again:
- I could tell them to be careful or file assault charges...which would you like?
- They don't have to be careful? Which police officer would you like me to ask? My husband (not present at the time), my brother-in-law, or their neighbor (both just a few steps away in the birthday party area).
- Let me go see what our friend Brian, the manager, has to say about it.
- Ok...sounds good...I'm happy to NOT be careful around your kids. Next time they kick my son in the face I'll just throw them to the ground. (or kick them back, or fill in the blank...)
- I'm sorry lady, but someone needs to teach kids who have irresponsible parents about common courtesy.
Don't worry anonymous lady at CEC...I promise to insist on "being careful" uniformly...to your kids and others. In fact, when my husband comes in contact with your kids in a few years while on-the-job, I promise to ask him to be careful with them too.