Jonathan celebrates his 3rd birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Jonathan celebrates his 3rd birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Credit: Newsday / Shameka Dudley

On Saturday, Dec. 1, our baby boy Jonathan turned 3 years old and to celebrate his big day we threw him a party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Of course the thought of a party at "Mac & Cheese," what Jonathan calls the franchise kid’s amusement center, was a no-brainer. The kid LOVES "Mac & Cheese." And selfishly, I have to admit, I was delighted with the idea of no prep and no cleanup for a house party.

So on his birthday, we arrived about 2:30 p.m. and were escorted to the “party” area in the back of the room. Jonathan was ready to play as soon as we arrived so his dad took him off to his favorite driving game while I set up for our guests and went over our order with the hostess, who was wonderful.

Now it has been a while since I’ve been to a party at Chuck E. Cheese, as most of my friends’ children are high-school and college age, but I didn’t realize our party would actually be a group party, shared with five or six other tables of partygoers.

For the amount of money that you spend ($15.99 per kid for a base package) I guess I expected my kid to be the center of his party. There was a group singing of “Happy Birthday” to all the children. Jonathan did not crack a smile the entire medley, although he was very excited to blow out the candles on his ice-cream cupcakes. He seemed more bothered by the ruckus than anything else.

I was disappointed that we had to wait for Chuck to eventually make it to our table to give Jonathan his birthday crown and medallion. And that we had to wait in line to get a snapshot with the franchise mascot, which didn’t seem to impress the birthday boy either. None of our guests, children or adults, were thrilled with the food but I will say that our service was great. Our hostess was very sweet and attentive and the manager was very accommodating as well. And most important, the children had a great time on the rides and playing the games.

So after about three hours the entire birthday party, 20 guests, packed up and headed back to our home. The children continued to run and play and the adults laughed and told stories while watching college football and listening to music. We ordered more food and hung out until about 11 p.m. It turned out to be a better party than we could have imagined, even though we were stuck with the quick prep and huge cleanup I was trying to avoid. And while we may not throw another party at Chuck E. Cheese, we’ll continue to take Jonathan there on play dates. That kid has got to have his "Mac & Cheese!"