I took “Calvin” to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese earlier this week. He and the other kids were having fun running around, playing games, and eating pizza. Until that big mouse arrived. What is it about all the places that little kids are supposed to go to have fun that have these giant rodents and other creatures running around that terrify most kids?

Calvin dove under the table. Birthday Boy ran away. Mom dragged him back but he cowered against her leg, crying. The only one who enjoyed it was Birthday Boy’s older sister. She was dancing and smiling better than Chuck E. and his “handler”.

Both Chuck E. and his handler went rather unenthusiastically through their dance routine, “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Believe me, they didn’t know it. The handler never once smiled. Chuck E. can’t dance on the beat to save his cheese. It wasn’t until he threw out a handful of tickets that the kids came out of hiding. My Calvin knows what those tickets are. The video games spit them out and you can turn them in at the counter for candy. If Mom lets you.

Do any kids actually like Chuck E.? Really, he’s pretty scary. A rat bigger than dad with a big nose and some pretty sharp teeth. I think he’d incite a few nightmares. All and all, I might have been the only one amused.

The kids like being at Chuck E. Cheese. They just don’t like him. So have the birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Just don’t invite the mouse.