Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A Birthday Party of Cataclysmic Effects
When the invitation was unveiled, you can imagine our pain at the words “Chuck E. Cheese.” Is there any worse prospect? I’d gladly accept another root canal or eye brow waxing – figuratively I’m speaking. Jana said, “Too bad I’m at work for this one. But at least it’s not on a Saturday!”
So off I went with three children in tow, knowing full well what the end results were going to be. It’s tough to decide what the worst moment of the evening was, so I’ll just spit it out. We arrived in the Vegas casino-like atmosphere: bells, sirens, screaming…at least there wasn’t any second hand smoke to inhale.
The plan was to let my middle child attend the party while the three of us hung out on the fringes, doing our own thing. Well, I ended up watching her much of the time along with Usain Bolt and his big sister. The youngest ran around the place with such speed it was tough to keep track. My head whipped back and forth keeping the three moving objects in site at all times. That kid (my son) must have run 5 miles that night. At least he’d be seated for 15 of the 120 minutes to eat pizza, right?
I put in my order at 4:15. One hour later I inquired about it. “Oh it’s in the oven right now,” responded the semi-interested employee. Hmmm. Why am I making a stink about pizza I don’t even want? Well, the middle child had already downed a piece of cake, soda, and pizza while the other two went without. Tick, tick, tick. At 5:45 I requested my money back from the pizza that never arrived. Their response was slightly apologetic, yet inquisitive as to why I wouldn’t want to wait another 20 minutes for their cheese covered cardboard.
Fortunately the two non-party attenders were given a piece of cake to satiate their appetites temporarily. We left with dozens of skee-bowling tickets yet to be redeemed and headed to McDonalds. Too bad their meal was another 30 minutes away – 6:00pm traffic! We get to the drive thru when #1 son yanks his sister’s brand new book (a fancy party favor) out of her hands, rips out a page, and annihilates it. So, only one child ate McDonalds in the car while the offender screamed at a near dog whistle pitch and the party-goer sobbed over her mangled book.
When the kids were in bed hours later I kept thinking…“What was I thinking?” Who in their right mind takes three kids to Chuck E. Cheese at all, let alone by themselves? And now I wonder, why do we ever put ourselves in that kind of circumstance? Why do we put our kids into situations we know that disaster will occur? There’s a great sermon illustration here somewhere. People ask me from time to time, “Why did God create humanity with free will knowing that they’d sin?” My best theologically-trained answer: “I don’t know.” But this I know: God loves me. He loves me when I’m at Chuck E. Cheese and at church. He loves my kids. Sometimes he lets me run around screaming among further chaos of bells and sirens. Sometimes I get to eat cake, play video games, and wrestle with my kids. Sometimes I wipe tears and dirty rears. Sometimes I get to enter people’s pain with no comforting answers. Sometimes I do that same stupid sin for the 9th time that day. But no matter where I find myself, put myself, follow others, or carry my family, this I know – Jesus loves me.