July 29, 2002

we went to chuck-e-cheese

My mother decides to run her game on me--she knows that we try to make Sunday "family day," and that we didn't get to have our family days--well, not the usual ones anyway, which are, well, fun--while George was in Hong Kong. Lots of in between here that would take me staring a dysfunctional families team blog to recount, but the bottom line is that we offered them some visiting time with Jenna Saturday, and on that day they became mysteriously not around.

So by Saturday night my mom is appologizing for missing us, asking if they can take Jenna for a few hours on Sunday. Now, consciously, she believes this is just a simple request, oh they miss her so. But unconsciously it's LOADED. So yesterday when the Sunday Request phone call comes in earnest, I say no. I say, Sunday is family day and we have plans. She is dejected, hurt I can tell, but I'm getting better at NOT letting it ruin my day or yank my survivor child chains.

And we had a really nice day. We went to the hobby shop and raced cars. Then off to Chuck E. Cheese. George writes about it it better justice than I could:

"There is a beautiful common bond parents can share with one another and that bond is their progeny. It is truly a thing of beauty to behold so many people who decided to take the chance of procreating and sacrifice a considerable amount of freedom [mental and emotional freedom, especially]."

Every time I hate Atlanta and begin looking at it through the eyes of someone who doesn't live here anymore, I become more and more aware of its one redeeming quality: diversity. I don't think there was a country or ethnicity missing at Chuck E. Cheese this day. At the booth next to us a family in traditional garments from Africa chatted in a language I didn't know. On the "Take Your Photo with Chuck E." ride, a mother perhaps speaking Portuguese was watching her incredible daughters with whisps of curls that I wanted to sink my fingers into, take a lock and keep it for my own. Hispanic, East Indian, Mediterianian, varieties of Asian, African Africans, African Americans, Red Necks--and, my FAVORITE--mixed families crossing and bluring all of these lines, just like the net.

And the unity among the fathers, which George writes about made me teary eyed. Here were men that could be doing anything else on a Sunday, and they were there with their children, and in many cases, their wives. Good dads. Dads that lifted their daughters on and off rides, not with a monotone stare, but with the contagious joy of a child.

George hit a payday at one of the games. He figured out how to align the trigger mechanism just so, nudging it a milimeter at a time, until the coins roled upright across this spinning wheel and threaded themselves inside a thin slot. The other dads gathered round. I glanced over to see three at one time in rapt attention at George's technique. And once he'd won about 1,000 tickets, he took a break and handed his perfectly-aligned shooter to a fellow father, who brought home at least that many before handing it off to another dad, who soon learned the technqiue before handing the reins back over to George.

All these dads, giving one another the thumbs up across the expanse of children. Winking at one another--their secret safe with eachother. They'd walk by George and say, "Thanks, man. Thanks for showing us." I'm proud to be there--wife of the Chuck E. Cheese game master.

Meanwhile, Jenna--yes, she was there too--had the time of her life, making friends and learning how to finally boss other kids around instead of being on the receiving end.

All in all, it was a fine family day.

Although I don't think we're here for the long term, it sure was a pleasant day in historic Kennesaw, Georgia.

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