Thursday, December 6, 2012

No Money, No Gluten, No Problem

I would never call my kids spoiled.  Taken care of, lucky, loved? You bet.  Entitled, overindulged? Nope.  I wouldn't call them well-traveled either.  

This is not the post where I explain how to get unspoiled kids on purpose.  No, no.  This is the post where I explain that all this unspoiling is just circumstance.  Four children + public education hard working husband + stay at home mother/freelance writer= not a lot of extra cash flow.  I'd like to think that if we had exorbitant amounts of money and travelability (yes, one word) that my children would remain those un-entitled, under-indulged little lucky, loved beings.  But I can't guarantee it.

For now (and the foreseeable future) we aren't the family that goes to Disney World every year.  

We don't even go to Chuck E. Cheese but that's mostly because of my son JT's Celiac disease (he can't eat the pizza and even though I know that's not why you go to Chuck E. Cheese, it just felt all wrong).  

Last week the whole Chuck E. Cheese situation changed. They now offer gluten free pizza and we set out on a family adventure (minus our 11-year-old who was at a sleepover) to check it out.

Here are a few things I discovered:
1. The gluten free pizza and process of cooking/serving at the restaurant are really good.  
2. Chuck E. Cheese is the gateway to gambling.
3. It might as well have been Disney World because my kids had the time of their lives.

Going out to dinner as a family basically stopped when JT was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  Sure you hear of people getting bun less burgers and being fine.  But those people must be less severe than my son who just needs a crumb of gluten to get very, very sick.  Just one crumb.  We worry about gluten cross-contamination and remain very skeptical about restaurants that claim to be gluten free.

I am happy to report that Chuck E. Cheese has a very good system in place.  Their gluten free pizzas are baked in a bag so they don't touch the ovens.  

They are opened at the table and guests are given their very own pizza cutter.  All of this made JT, who is 6, feel very important and happy.  He was different in a good look-at-my-cool-pizza-cutter way.

The pizza tasted pretty not horrible which is good for gluten free pizza.

The pizza situation was heartwarming, but my kids turned into greedy little ticket monsters in the game area.  I swear when they were impatiently shoving their tickets into the ticket counter, they were drooling.  It was a little scary.  They didn't blink.  A perma-grin was glued on their faces as they set upon their quest for more and more and more tickets.

My mind quickly fast-forwarded 20 years and I pictured JT and Lucy drooling over the slot machines in Vegas.  Yeah, it all starts at Chuck E. Cheese.

Shockingly they weren't disappointed when their 380 tickets only bought them a silly straw and an eraser.  

"We'll just come back and get more tickets next time," Lucy said to her brother JT.

My children were so happy and excited that night. When Chuck E. Cheese walked out to greet the crowd of kids and do a dance, my kids went wild.  
Lucy does seem to be a little reluctant with the whole dancing  mouse/rat, but JT was all over it.

Fortunately, for my husband and me, my kids don't need Disney World to be happy.  

And they don't even need Chuck E. Cheese.  We won't be going back anytime soon--it wouldn't be special if we did and holy shit it was still a lot of money for one night of cheesy fun. 

So,my advice is to live like you don't have a lot of money (either because you have to or by choice) and you too can have un-spoiled, under-indulged children.  It makes special little moments even more special.  Honestly, we feel like we hit the lottery anytime all of our children can feel happy and like they belong.  Seeing JT feel like a normal kid and not left out was pretty damn priceless.

It may not be the biggest ticket-getting game, but I love(and always will love)Skee-Ball.


  1. I had no idea they had gluten free pizza. A few weeks ago my 5 year was reliving the one time we went to Chuckie Cheese as we drove by and asked if we could go back but "not for the pizza, because it's not gluten free". I was kind of sad for him because there are many things he (and my other kids) miss out on due to celiac. Any how, thanks for sharing. I had no idea! I think we'll plan a trip there soon. We've never been to Disney, and it's not happening in the near future for us either!! Chuckie Cheese is close enough- right?!

    1. I think you should go, it was fun. And I hear you on the kids missing out because of Celiac, that's why it was so fun to say yes for a change. Hope you have a good time when you go and thanks for reading and commenting.