A Night at Austin’s Park ‘n Pizza

…A lesson in parenting.

It all started, like most adventures do…

…with a post on Facebook.

On the night of March 6th, 2015, we were invited to gather for food, fun and frivolity as the Park showcased one of their newest attraction, Friday Night Live with the Comedy Spartans serving up ample amounts of “Who’s Line…” styled improvisational hi-jinks.

I convinced my wife it was a good idea for us all to go out on a Friday night and have a little fun. It’d been quite a while since we’d been to Austin’s Park ‘n Pizza and she has been very supportive of my blogging misadventures. Ever since I was offered three Mazda’s over three weeks, and after partnering with Rebecca Darling for the Chevy Shop Social event last summer, my wife has been more than willing to let me have a little fun with my crazy writing friends.

The kid, my 7-year-old daughter Madison, was all for it. Since we had four tickets and there were only three of us, finding a friend for my daughter proved to be more of a challenge than I would have thought. We decided to ask some of her school friend’s parents. After contacting a few of the dads I learned that first grade parents are less likely to let their children have a Friday night play date. I’ll admit, it’s probably due to the fact that most of these parents are mild acquaintances whom I meet very infrequently at the occasional birthday party or school event. Should I make more of an effort to befriend them? Meh. Maybe. What do you think?

After failing to capture the interest of more-than-one of my daughter’s school-mate parents, we turned to my siblings and their kids. My ‘younger’ brother has four boys and the most likely choice (for me) would be his third son, who is only a month younger than my daughter. My daughter informed me that she did not want him as her companion for the evening, so this left the two older boys. Given the choice, she picked my brother’s second son (One of her favorite cousins). However, my sister-n-law informed me, the day of the event, that he would not be joining us since he got in trouble and lost the privilege. The oldest son declined the offer. What were we going to do?

At the last possible moment, I called my wife’s younger brother. He has three young children and his oldest is (also) one of my daughter’s favorite cousins. The only challenge, besides the fact that it was the 11th hour, was that my brother-n-law lived far on the other side of Austin’s Park ‘n Pizza. It would take us at least an hour to drive over there, and another 30 minutes to drive back. This would have really shortened the amount of time we would have for playing games and riding go-karts before the show…not to mention, eating dinner.

My ‘n-law’s not only agreed to meet with us just a few miles south of the Park, they even packed an overnight back so we wouldn’t need to drive my nephew home after the show. Things were starting to look up!

Okay, So far, all this has been about just getting there. So, let’s get there already! We arrived at Austin’s Park ‘n Pizza a little later than we would have liked. Unsure what our special admission passes would cover we came prepared for anything. We made a quick pass by the pizza buffet to see what our options were, but since we were only a little early, we made our way straight to the go-karts.

We let the kids take a run around in The All New Great Safari Race Go-Karts. An adult-free adventure for the young drivers in your family. They really enjoyed getting to be behind the wheel. So much so, that Madison took an extra lap when the Park employee asked the kids to pull in to the pit stop at the end of their time. Then she made sure it took as long as possible for her to finish that last lap.

Then we paired up. My wife with my nephew and me with my little girl. We raced a bunch of other people’s kids around the slick track and in the end, Madison and I came in first place. It didn’t hurt that we started in second place and passed the leader right out of the gate. As much fun as that was, I was exhausted after just one heat.

Speaking of heat, by this time it was getting rather cold. We needed to get some food and find our seats in the theater before it got too late. The food was pretty good, overall. We ate so much pizza! I wish I could recount for you the variations of different toppings. Nothing too out of the ordinary, and it was all consumed. My wife had some of the pasta salad and didn’t finish it, but who comes to a pizza buffet and eats the salad?

They also had a baked potato bar, which I used to put more stuff on my pizza (Bacon bits? Yes, please!). I did see some folks eating a bake potato, here and there, and they seemed to be enjoying it. The desserts were okay. The chocolate pizza was a big hit with my family. Personally, I loved the pudding. I got a heaping bowl of chocolate and banana pudding to finish off my meal.

The soda fountain was as far from the theater, where the Comedy Spartans were doing their ‘thang,’ as it could be! Still, it was a good selection and I didn’t mind walking off my pizza. I was warned ahead of time, by a friend who knew we were going, that the soda fountain was turned off at 8PM (the same time the buffet closed) so I set my alarm for 7:50PM to make sure the whole family was well hydrated for a night of comedy.

It was at about this time that I noticed my daughter acting a bit…well…’strange’ isn’t the right word for it. Strange is a common behavior in our family. She was extra-hyper. She’s only got two speeds. Slow (Or, “Go do your chores.”) and Jumping! For her to be a little amp-ed after go-karts, pizza, soda, chocolate and time with her favorite cousin, I shouldn’t have been as surprised. Maybe it was because it was a long week? Maybe it was because her usual bedtime had come and passed and normally she’d be sound asleep by now? Maybe it was the perfect storm of everything combined? Did I mention that spending time with this cousin, in particular, also gets her extra-excited?

Well, she was unable to stay seated and watch the show. At 7-years-old, I must admit that the show, although very funny and family friendly, was just not holding her attention as I had expected. My 9-year-old nephew was also rather fidgety, but nowhere as bad as Madison. A little before 8:30PM, the third time she had left her own seat and crawled up into mine, I noticed that she kicked her leg wildly behind her a few times and suddenly I realized that she was kicking the gentleman sitting beside me.

I had noticed the couple next to me when the moderator, a man dressed as a sports referee, asked if anyone had been to see the show before and the two of them raised their hands excitedly. Obviously, these two are fans of the show. When I noticed my darling little girl had been kicking this nice man, who had paid his way to see the show, I just about lost it.

I immediately mouthed the words, “Sorry,” while putting the most genuinely sincere look on my face. Internally I was filling with rage. How could she do this to me (Yikes! How selfish does that sound?? But, that’s how I was feeling at the time.)? I was mortified, and I am not easily embarrassed.  The nice gentleman nodded. I could tell he was understanding, yet un-amused at her lack of control. Being her father, it was ultimately my responsibility. Unable to do much, I put myself between my whirling dervish and her undeserving victim. I looked at my wife, explained the situation as best as I could. My wife suggested we leave. I hesitated for a moment…and then we both agreed that it was time to go.

Sad, defeated, not wanting to miss any more of the show, we left. We walked to the car saying things like, “If you could have just stayed in your seat and enjoyed the show, we’d still be in there…” It didn’t really matter. My little princess was exhausted. The best thing for us to do at that point was to get on the road and head for home. Before we even arrive at the house, she was sound asleep in her little booster seat.

I would have liked to have seen the whole show. It does start rather late for my family. Madison goes to bed on school nights at 7:30PM and that’s when the 90-minute show begins. I could see us having more fun on a Saturday night, if she had been more rested throughout the day, but after a long week, it’s just too late for my family. I could tell many of the other families were enjoying themselves and if you’re interested in checking it out, I suggest you do it…but make sure you’re far from the kicking 7-year-old’s.

Blogger friends, Christina Linnell & Rebecca Darling

 

I did enjoy watching Star Wars with my nephew later that night. However, I fell asleep before the Millennium Falcon reached the Death Star. It seems I may have been a little over tired myself.

I love this kid so much!

 

NOTE: I was invited to participate in an evening of fun with the Comedy Spartans Friday Night Live Show at Austin’s Park n’ Pizza for local bloggers and their families. I was not compensated in any way (beyond a free dinner, show and two go-kart rides). All opinions are my own. Thanks to Rebecca Darlingfor the opportunity to participate in this fun (comedy, go-karts, pizza) and educational (parenting) evening. You can read her own words on that evening here: http://rwethereyetmom.com/2015/03/the-comedy-spartans.html

 

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