Small Change and Small World

The Dad came down with the 24-hour stomach bug today, so I found myself on day 2 of a 3-day weekend with 3 rambunctious children. Plan A was to take Metra downtown to the water taxi, and take that over to Chinatown for lunch/walking, but The Girl, who has a pathological fear of train stations and crowds, nixed that plan. Onto Plan B…. Nickel City.

Nickel City, in Northbrook, just off the Waukegan Road exit from the Tristate, has heretofore been an outing to which The Dad takes the kids. A national franchise, Nickel City is an arcade that bridges 80s video-game parlors and Chuck E. Cheese. Thankfully for me, it’s brighter than the 80s video arcade and quieter and less frenzied than Chuck E. Cheese. A $2 entry per kid (The Tot was free; this worked out to the owners’ advantage as all he really wanted to do was feed nickels into the slots — he’d take off before the game started) and $10 worth of nickels bought us about 2 hours of video fun — the most I could stand before my head was pounding. Between the four of us, we racked up 150 tickets, which we used to “buy” useless plastic crap — the kids were not to be deterred into my idea of trading tickets for a bag of M&Ms to be split 3 ways.

We briefly stopped into Hobbytown USA in the same strip mall, where The Boy played with gorgeous Quadrilla sets, The Girl looked at arts & crafts kits, The Tot manned the train table, and I eyed gardening and science kits. We bought 4 pieces of wooden track and went home, stopping briefly at the Starbucks in Northfield for iced tea-lemonades for the hot and thirsty crew.

Once home, boredom quickly set in so we went to Target to spend the kids’ saved-up allowance. The Boy, who gets a modest $3/week, has been saving for a Bakugan case. The Tooth Fairy visited last week for the first time, and left him enough money to advance his cause. While wandering the toy aisles in search of Bakugan, a small doll for The Girl, and a Matchbox car for The Tot, we ran into Jenny Barron-Fishman. It took Jenny and I awhile to place each other, but when we did, I realized how small Chicago really is. Jenny was the proprietor of Sweet Pea’s Yoga Studio. Without her, I wouldn’t have found my playgroup in spring 2003, during a mom-and-me yoga class. It brought the point home to me again: the longer I stay in Chicago, the smaller and tighter my world gets.

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