So today was the day that I took Big Sprout and her friends to Chuck E Cheese. The first friend in the van was Sunny's oldest daugher, Squeak. She had spent the night Friday, and the girls had a great time. We headed over and picked up Pip, and then drove down to get The Sarge's son, Cowboy.
Everyone was silent when Cowboy entered the van. He was a little embarassed at being in a van full of girls, and Big Sprout was the only one who really knew him so it was a little strange for all involved. I teased him about it just a little as we headed the rest of the way down to CEC, and things seemed to settle a bit.
When we got there, the place was a MADHOUSE. There were parents and kids everywhere. You could hardly walk more than 5 feet without having to wait or loudly do the whole "EXCUSE ME, CAN I GET THROUGH HERE?" bit. After one complete circuit without finding anywhere to sit, I loaded up the kids with game tokens and went in search of a table on my own.
I finally found a place to sit, ordered the pizza and some more tokens, and settled in for 2 hours of running, screaming children, nasty pizza, and flat pop.
It was actually fun.
Cowboy is the coolest kid on the planet, being the perfect combination of impish and mature to appeal to all ages. He loaded up on the tickets (for those of you not initiated into the joys of CEC, you play games and get tickets based on how well you do. Then you redeem the tickets for junk toys), and chased the girls down whenever I hadn't seen them in too long.
Squeak had a bit of an issue with trying to keep Big Sprout from spending any time with the other kids. I love her, but sometimes she can be a bit of a "Princess". We dealt with it okay, and she seemed to adjust well enough after I had a talk with Big Sprout about spending time with ALL her friends, not just one.
Pip was a gem. She was so excited to give Big Sprout her gift (I didn't expect one), and so happy to be invited along to CEC. At first she seemed a little shy around the other kids, but by the end of the day she was joining in with all the jokes and games. I think it helped that Cowboy was there, as he is the same age as Pip, and so she didn't feel so much older than the other two. It was a true joy to have her along.
All three of the girls fell in love with Cowboy. When we loaded the van to head home, they started arguing about which one of them got to take him home with them. Big Sprout kept telling the other girls that it was her birthday, so she should get to have him as her brother. Besides, according to her the other girls were out of the running because both of them have brothers of their own, and Big Sprout doesn't. Cowboy ate it up.
I was amazed to find myself enjoying their loud voices and rambunctious play in the van. I am not normally the kind of person who really likes kids (don't know how I ended up with so many), and I expected to be crabby and half out of my mind after 5 minutes. Instead, I found myself laughing and joking with the kids and actually having a good time! I am so glad. I always felt like I was missing out on something since any more than two children at a time normally sends me into fits. Now I know that it CAN be fun.
But don't get the idea that I have the energy to do this more often...