One evening, during a trip to Fremantle, I decided it would be a good idea to let my son choose his own ice cream dessert from the menu. Funny me. I cherish the fact that it's still such a novelty and even more of a big deal to choose it himself. Of course, he selected the most over the top monstrosity and poor Freo soon felt and heard every up and down effect of the dreaded sugar rush.
Being the generous parents we are we chose not to get in the car and suffer the long ride home with the crazy coconut crew bouncing around in the backseat. No. We like to share our torment with the community whenever we can. We're good citizens like that.
So, where does one go when your little jitter bug starts using his father's head as a bongo?
Who can resist the flashing lights and animated sounds of an amusement parlour? It certainly lured in a generation of teenagers and bogans. I remember a time of mullets with bleached fringes, db's, flannies and black jeans (that defy what is commonly known as "skinny" these days) flocking to Timezone for a crack at the "pinnies", pashing in the car booths and spending $20 in change to knock off a rivals initials on Galaga. Thankfully they were all long gone this night.
I'm not suggesting making it a regular thing for your littlies and trust me, when it's busy it is the last place I want to be near, let alone expose my kids to crowds of over enthusiastic adolescents. I'm sure they feel the same way about young children and anyone over twenty cluttering up their space of escape with too much reality.
We went mid-week around 7pm and there were mainly tourists (taking lots of photos of anything that moved including my kids!), a few quiet teens and couples on dates. It was great because my son could run from one game to the next without bothering anyone.
His eyes nearly popped out from astonishment when we walked in. It must seem like Las Vegas to a small child. At first he was clueless about the whole payment thing but by the end he began to grasp the concept that without money the games were just shiny and flashing. Which of course he was fine with. We made a point of spending $10 and no more once it had run out. It was actually my husband who was doing all the "oh-ing" when it was time to leave.
If you don't want to expose your baby to gun violence and gang crime there are plenty of other choices. We successfully distracted our three year old, veering him away from the very realistic weaponry towards the games with balls, water, dancing and brightly coloured toys. He loved it all and kept looking at us in disbelief as if checking we were actually allowing him to have so much fun.
We wrapped it up fairly briefly with the wonderful novelty of ticket swapping for prizes. Once again my little boy was allowed to choose anything he wanted. He pointed to some crazy pokemony looking thing wrapped up in bright coloured plasticky stuff. I thought it was a toy. Wrong answer. It was a lolly of the psychotic-injected jelly kind. Back to square one.
So while he played a little "dads head bongo" beat all the way home I feared to make eye contact with my husband, as the eye rolling was becoming so extreme I thought they'd roll so far up never to return. He admitted later he had a really good time re-living the high score glory days.
This outing was a sporadic solution to a particularly hyperactive situation. It's like the Royal Show, every so often its okay to give into the hypnotic haze of it all. Just hold tight to your pockets, resist too much temptation and have a good wash when you get home!
We recently took our three little girls to Timezone while waiting for our takeaway... It was a bit confronting seeing little fluffballs in pink tutus 'shooting' each other in the head with enormous plastic guns, but they seemed to enjoy themselves. I suspect they thought they were hairdryers?