The economics of Chuck E Cheese is fascinating, or perhaps it is the marketing. It is a study in inflation psychology. We got 120 tokens with our badly overpriced and mediocre pizza. That is 30 per child. All around us, machines screamed, “Play me.” There were lights and graphics and sounds. It is incredible noisy! You can shoot, drive, ride, or hit innocent small creatures on the head. You can have your picture taken. You can shoot basketballs and throw baseballs. Or you can try to drop your token into the slot for the jackpot. Grey ran around like mad and had finished the tokens before the pizza arrived. Thane likes putting the tokens in the slots but cares little for the tickets or the games. He likes the graphics, but he doesn’t need to interact with them. Kay likes cute things, but she did did spend quite a bit of time at a shooter. Baz is the most thoughtful of the players. He walks around looking, analyses each of the games to see what he likes best and what he is likely to get the most tickets from. He always finishes his tokens last.
After plowing through the 30 tokens Camp Gramp supported, Grey impulsively and Baz thoughtfully decided to invest their Camp Gramp spending money in another 50 tokens. It was unbelievably hard to let them do that! What a waste! But we didn’t say anything when Kay invested her Camp Gramp spending money in a blue bear clinging to a piece of candy and Thane spent his on a dinosaur egg — which when put in water actually hatched (actually, this was neat — but worth $3 not $10.) So all the spending money is gone now.
Back to Chuck E Cheese. The games you play spew out an incredible number of tickets. I picked up 26 of Thane’s. He wasn’t interested. Kay had 76 — she was interested. Grey got 140 — he was very interested. Baz earned an impressive 441 tickets. At the ticket “store”, each ticket is worth about a penny. Where do they find all that trash? You would think the children were starving because the candy was popular. Baz got a magic trick and a rocket, plus a bag of cotton candy. Kay got vampire teeth. She can hardly wait until her mouth gets big so they don’t hurt. Grey got CANDY! Thane got one of those packets of Koolaid type stuff with a little stick you use to dip in it. Don’t worry, he didn’t eat most of the pure sugar. He deposited it in the car seat. The vacuum cleaner took care of the mess.
What amazed me is that all the children were happy! They had a great time and they thought their prizes were wonderful. It was such trash! But they were happy. Is it the games or the tickets? What motivates the children to so deeply desire this particular Camp Gramp activity? And why don’t Don and I refuse? Amazing. We noticed the demographic is changing. There were more tweens and young adults there. The children’s section has shrunk and the adult games, car chases, etc., have increased.
The whole day was not consumed by CEC. We went to Hamma Hamma, an oyster farm on Hood Canal. It was very interesting! I know a job that will inspire you to go to college — oyster shucking! That looks brutal. If I can get them downloaded, there is a picture of the children on top of a pile of oyster shells. (The shadow at the top of the picture is not impending weather, but a finger!) They looked wonderful against the blue sky!
Speaking of college, our tour guide was wonderful. At the end of the tour, someone asked her if she went to college. “Yes” she said, “a little college in Vermont.” Class of 2004 — Middlebury. She is putting her degree in English literature to good use!
Then we went to the Olympic National Park — or a subsection of it — Seal Rock Camp Grounds — remember it, Matthew. The children played in the water for about an hour. It was a nice time. They don’t like the sun screen we have — I think there may be a little too much red on Thane’s face. Such bliss — water, rocks. It doesn’t get much better.
I would like to apologize to my children for making them take trips without DS or videos. It may not be the best interaction we can get, but it sure cuts down on the fighting and whining. I didn’t hear “are we there yet” more than twice.
Sleep is settling over our little camp and I am about to join them. It will never do to let them get ahead.
The health report: Baz feels fine. Thane spent the whole day coughing and informing us he was going to throw up — then not doing so. Since he revived in remarkable ways when something fun offered, we were not too worried. On the other hand, let’s not talk about the cuts. The rocks were a little sharp. Again, Thane won hands down! I love the therapeutic value of a little antiseptic wash! Medicine!