For now, playing spoiler is OK
Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday evening equals the best birth control ever for a 20-something woman surrounded by rampant marriage and baby talk.
However, despite talk of these steps in life that seem to creep up around the mid-20s and watching my friends dive headfirst into them, I’m content to be without at the moment even sans a roomful of screaming children.
But, it does help to be reminded from time to time.
My sister, brother-in-law, niece and I made the trek Saturday to Chuck E. Cheese for our cousin’s third birthday.
I walked in the door and rugrats immediately began bouncing off my shins as we made our way toward the stage where Chuck E. and his crew were flailing around and singing happy birthday.
In my day, this place was known as “ShowBiz Pizza” and the mascots were an enormous, mechanical, drum playing gorilla and an equally enormous banjo playing bear that made many a kid burst into tears and run for their lives. I was most definitely afraid of them, but was more of the freeze-and-stand-in-wide-eyed-sheer-terror type of child. I look back on it and wonder, who actually thought these were the kind of mascots children would love?
Perhaps that’s why a giant mouse now fills the role. Except Chuck apparently has the same effect in some cases. My brother-in-law mentioned moving closer to the stage to visit Chuck E. and my 20-month-old niece, Remi, responded by tightening her grip on his arm and protesting loudly, “Noooooo!”
I guess some things never change.
My 3-year-old cousin, distracted by the lights, sights and sounds of this crazy place, could have cared less if we were there, so we spent most of our time following a very active Remi around the toddler area while snapping pictures.
Despite her panic over Chuck E., this kid is virtually fearless, feisty and independent. We laughed as she scaled the side of each little ride, climbed up and down the slide and made new friends.
Watching her grow from a tiny, little peanut to a walking, talking, curly blonde haired pistol who constantly cracks me up and amazes me with actions and a vocabulary more advanced than children twice her age has been the highlight of my life the past two years.
I have to brag, not just because I’m a proud aunt, but because she has altered my perspective of the future. The birth of Remi has changed my view on having children from, “I’d rather jump off a bridge,” to “OK, I could do this… someday… maybe.”
I watched her with a seemingly permanent smile on my face that day, until one of her counterparts let out an ear-piercing screech or threw a fit over tokens and tickets and I immediately snapped back to reality.
Since graduating from college, I’ve gradually watched acquaintances and friend after friend’s status change from single to married and from childless to parent. In fact, my best friend just got engaged over the weekend and another lifelong friend is currently married and six months pregnant with her first child.
While I’m genuinely happy for them and send them my congratulations, I know that I’m just not quite ready for these things yet and that’s OK. Right now I’m just enjoying my role as an aunt — spoiling, teaching, playing and doing all the fun stuff, then sending her back to Mom and Dad for all of the not-so-fun stuff.
I know my status will probably change eventually as well, but until then, I’m more than content with my single, childless, 20-something life.
And, I owe a partial thank you to a certain giant mouse and his house-o-fun for that.