“Hi,” she said to me staring up at me with her pageboy haircut.
“Hello,” I replied, trying to look at her and keep my hands firmly grasped to my three year old’s waist as she slowly floated into the air on a Hot Air Balloon ride at Chuck E Cheese.
“You look just like my teacher,” the strange little girl told me.
“Yes, her name is Mrs. Withersomething.” Crap, I look like someone’s teacher? Oh no…I am officially old.
“That’s nice,” I replied. As my daughter came back down to earth all she could say was, “Again! Again!” So I plugged a couple more tokens back into the Hot Air Balloon and up she went back into a heaven filled with dancing mice and golden tokens.
“Are you sure you’re not her?” the strange girl asked me.
“My name is Colleen,” she proudly announced.
“Hi Colleen, my name is Stacy.”
“Is that your daughter?” she asked as she pointed in the air to my little tow-headed child who was now in a full blown Chuck E Cheese induced coma.
“Yes it is.”
“What’s her name?”
“Oh.” And then Colleen proceeded to stand there staring at me with a huge smile on her face. What does this child want from me? Look here little kid, I don’t really like kids all that much. I like Mini Me, but that’s about it, so let’s cut to the chase. Just about the same time Colleen was making me really uncomfortable Mini Me’s ride had come to an end and she wanted to move on to the Bumble Bee game.
The Bumble Bee game is a simple game really. It’s a game that has a bunch of ping-pong balls painted like bees. You put the token in the game and a huge gust of air shoots out of the bottom of the machine and the ping pong bumble bees fly all over an enclosed case. The object of the game is to maneuver the arm on the inside of the machine that has a net attached to it and catch as many bumble bees as you can in the net and drop them into the hive in the time allotted. Easy right? Yes. For a three year old…not so much. Mini Me and I made our way over to the Bumble Bee game and sure enough Colleen came right along with us. I reminded Mini Me to grab the handle and get ready for the Bumble Bees as I dropped the token in the slot. Before we knew it there were Bumble Bees floating all around and Mini Me was doing her best to catch them.
“That’s not how you do it,” Colleen told Mini Me as she tried to grab the handle and take over the game. Mini Me wasn’t having any of it and held tight to her handle as she threw a hip into Colleen’s leg and growled. Poptart and I had been working with Mini Me to “use your words,” but at this specific moment I was in agreement with Mini Me’s choice of communication. Colleen made me want to growl too.
After the Bumble Bee game we moved on to the foosball table and guess who came with us? Man we just can’t shake this kid. At least foosball was a two man sport and I put a token in so both Colleen and Mini Me could play together.
“No mommy, you play,” Mini Me protested.
“No Mini Me, we are going to play with our new friend Colleen,” I told her while searching in earnest for her parents. I was now starting to get a little worried about Colleen.
Mini Me played the game with Colleen but was starting to get irritated with her.
“My mommy!” Mini Me told Colleen while staring her down. Before things got ugly an old man came up to us.
“Is she bothering you?” he asked. Wow security isn’t what it used to be.
“No, she’s…” What was I going to say? Yes, she’s the spawn of Satan. Can you please remover her from our presence before my daughter pees on me to mark her territory. “…she’s fine.”
“Oh good. She can sometimes be annoying,” he said. Great, now I just felt bad for poor Colleen. Obviously she was lonely.
“Really, she’s no trouble,” I told him.
“Oh good,” the older man said, and then just stood there smiling at us. Oh good, now there’s two of them. Does he want tokens too?
Luckily Poptart saved us from what was becoming an unbearably uncomfortable situation.
“Stacy, the pizza is here,” he announced. I kindly excused Mini Me and myself and told the wonder twins it was nice meeting them. I don’t think the words “Pizza is here,” have ever sounded so sweet before.”
“Thank you,” I told Poptart. Those two were killing me. They just kept talking to us and smiling at us. I thought they would never go away.
“Was that old man her grandfather?” Poptart asked.
“I think so.”
“Good. Because I saw him sitting by himself at a table over there, drinking a soda and watching the kids, and I was starting to get suspicious when it didn’t look like he was here with anyone.” Oh great, I just left Colleen with a Pedophile. But I kept an eye on her while we ate our pizza and she seemed to know him so I assumed he must be her grandpa.
After pizza Poptart, Mini Me and myself all loaded up on tokens and took off for our respected machines. Poptart went off to Big Game Hunter and Mini Me and I went off to Dance Dance Revolution. Mini Me loves to dance and considers herself quite good at it and will jump at any opportunity to showcase her skills. She jumped on the multi colored dance floor and I popped in two tokens. When the music choices came up on the big screen looming in front of her tiny face, I picked hip-hop for my little dancing protégé. Once the music kicked on and the dance floor lit up she looked like a small child going into epileptic shock. She was jerking and swinging her blond hair all around. I was worried someone might call the paramedics. Only her tiny flip flops were holding her back from reaching her full awesomeness potential. So she stopped dancing just long enough to take them off and fling them as far across the room as she could manage. During this display of insanity I was laughing my proud parent ass off encouraging her with, “Go Mini, go Mini, get busy, wit cha bad self!”
“You know she could hurt herself being barefoot like that,” I heard from behind my left shoulder. It was Colleen’s Grandpa. *Sigh* There is nothing I hate more than someone who tells me how to parent.
“There could also be a small leak in a pipe somewhere in the ceiling right above our heads that no one knows about. And the ceiling could come crashing down at any moment killing all three of us,” I responded. Grandpa looked at me strangely and then walked away.
“Go mini, go mini, get busy, wit cha bad self!”
Poptart walked over to join me in watching our little blonde mess dance her butt off. “I just had an interesting conversation with that little girl you were talking to earlier while playing Big Game Hunter,” Poptart informed me.
“Oh, yes. I was at this stage where you’re supposed to shoot buffalo…”
“This is a video game?”
“This is Texas. Anyway, while I was shooting buffalo she told me I was doing it wrong,” he continued, and started laughing. “She told me that the way to hunt buffalo is to kill the mommies and the babies first.” I looked over at him and started cracking up.
“Her name is Colleen,” I told him, putting my last few tokens into Mini Me’s new favorite game.
“Something is very, very wrong with that child.” We stood there watching our little cave girl dance and enjoy herself for a little while longer when sure enough Colleen decided to join Mini Me on the dance floor. This did not please Mini Me. She went from being a solo-dancing star to having a partner and to be honest she didn’t feel like sharing the spot light.
“Will you put more tokens in?” Colleen asked us. I couldn’t. I was tapped out. Poptart dug in his pocket and put his last two tokens in the machine and Colleen danced her little heart out as Mini Me stood back trying to plot Colleen’s demise. After her dance was up she asked us to pay for another game but we were out of tokens and out of time.
It was almost a year later when a friend of mine asked Mini and I to have a play date with her and her son at a pump-up play center called Monkey Joe’s. This place is pretty amazing really. It makes Pump It Up look like a second rate hack job. Mini Me loves it there. So I met up with Alicia and her son who is two. Mini Me ran around like a demon, throwing her little body down giant slides so fast that the only thing I could catch on film was a blur.
Alicia’s two-year-old son Brent loves the game room in Monkey Joe’s. They have all these different games with bells and whistles that almost always have a prize. The prizes are these bouncy rubber balls. He is obsessed with them and has a very impressive collection at home. Mini Me and I went to the game room to meet up with Alicia and Brent. As I walked up to Alicia she gave me an odd look.
“What?” I asked her smiling.
“This kid won’t stop following us around and keeps asking me for quarters,” she told me.
“Where?” I asked.
“The little girl right there,” she pointed out. I turned my head and came face to face with a little girl with a page boy hair cut.
“Oh my God! Do you know who that is?”
“That’s killing Colleen!!!” I couldn’t believe it. There she was trying to hustle my friend out of quarters. Some things never change. I recognized Colleen but she didn’t recognize me. Odd. Didn’t I look just like her teacher Mrs. Withersomething? And that’s when it dawned on me. I wasn’t special to Colleen, I was just another mark, just another notch on her token wearing belt. She had moved on to greener, more prosperous pastures. I did learn one very valuable lesson from Colleen though. One I will pass down to my daughter and she will pass down to hers. When shooting buffalo, make sure to kill the mommies and the babies first.
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