Sam turned 12 years old last weekend, which is completely unbelievable, of course, but true, so we should just accept the impossible and move on to how we celebrated said birthday.
We didn’t have birthday parties for any of our kids this year, opting instead to give them fun experiences instead. For Jack and Quinn’s birthday, we shoved Quinn to the ground on amusement park asphalt and took Jack on a loop-de-loop roller coaster. For Sam’s birthday, we decided to not injure or terrify anyone. Instead, we took our munchkins and one of Sam’s friends to…
You may not know about Medieval Times, in which case you are super bummed out, because Medieval Times is AWESOME. You may know about Medieval Times if you are one of the 12 people who saw the terrible movie The Cable Guy back in the 90s. There is a scene set at the restaurant and it is, in fact, pretty realistic. Alex showed this clip to all of our young attendees, because of course he did.
We arrived a billion hours early because (a) I’m always early, (b) we kinda misread our tickets, and (c) they tell you to be there an hour early so you will wander around and buy things before they seat you.
Here’s something: If you take four young men to Medieval Times, they will only wander around looking at the suits of armor and old-school instruments of torture for so long before they become captivated by this wall of items for sale:
I took steps to prevent them from obsessing over Real! Weapons! For Sale! Right Over There!
Because we were still a long way out from being seated and it was rapidly becoming a matter of either procure weapons for the children or buy a $21 beer for myself (I’m not kidding—$21), I made an executive decision that a mix of wooden swords, axes, and daggers would make good party favors and leave me in a position to not be a drunken asshole at my son’s birthday party.
I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to keep said four young men from accidentally decapitating or otherwise damaging bystanders. This involved a lot of shouting of, “Swordfight in the corner!” and “Don’t swing your ax at that tiny girl!” and “Don’t you make me put you back in that stockade!”
This worked until it got super crowded and then I pulled out my secret weapon, a.k.a. the iPad.
All of this and the show hadn’t even started yet.
Shortly thereafter, they started seating based on the colors and numbers on a little card we were given when we checked in. We were green four. They called a bunch of numbers and colors and then they called green one and two…at which point all four of the kids with us took off and ran into the theater, leaving Alex and I shuffling in uncertain little circles.
Did we use our missing children as an excuse to wedge the line before we were supposed to? Did we just assume that our kids would find their way to the correct table instead of getting separated, lost, and eventually kidnapped? Should we stand where we were and look at each other with bewildered looks on our faces until they called green four only to go into the theater to find that our children had nabbed optimal seats in the second row?
I think you know the answer to that.
So, there we were, in the second row, happy as motherfucking clams.
My kids were delighted by the mugs that made it look as if they were boozing it up. I’m not exactly sure where they learned that, but I’m going to blame it on The Hobbit.
Sam’s friend ordered Pepsi and in my mind I was all, “Huh. I wonder if he is allowed to drink Pepsi,” and then later it was, “Huh. I wonder if he is allowed to have two refills of Pepsi at dinner,” and then even later it was, “Welp. Better his mom than me.”
It is almost always a good idea to trust me with your kids.
Our waitress—or wench, as she self-identified—was excellent. She was extremely responsive to Quinn’s million questions about the menu, kept our guest well supplied with soda refills, and was super energetic and fun.
Then, oh holy hell, y’all, the lights dimmed, a spotlight appeared, music swelled, and a motherfucking silver horse goddamn galloped into the arena to collective cheers from the crowd, which could not have been more appreciative if they had been treated to the sight of a unicorn trailing rainbows from its hooves.
I may have done some woohooing myself.
You guys, it was so fun. There was a falcon and fancy horse tricks and and a king and a princess and some guy on a horse who showed up to apparently just run around in circles to amuse us as we ate chicken and there was a bad guy who was eventually vanquished and we all shouted and cheered and waved flags and banners like the fools we are.
All four kids (and both adults) were universally delighted.
There was some sort of story line that was mostly to get us to cheer for our knight and to be amazed at the little competitions they staged with jousting and spear throwing and sword fighting and so much more fun stuff. Everyone in the crowd was cheering and happy. I think it would be hard to not get caught up in the fun there. Jack did spend a few minutes under the table, but he came right back up when he heard more ecstatic cheering.
There was also the guy who had to clean up the horse shit, with what was essentially a giant cat litter scooper.
The food was totally secondary to the show, but it was decent too. It was really fun because there are really no utensils. You have to sip your soup from the bowl, pick up your half potato, and rip apart your quarter chicken—excuse me, baby dragon—with your bare hands. Also, if you are sitting next to Jack, you will have to de-skin his chicken because his delicate palate does not care for dragon skin.
Honestly, it was just like dining at my house except I didn’t have to yell at anyone to use a fork.
After the show, we gathered up our souvenirs and the children used their allowance money to buy more crap and then we headed back home for Sam’s birthday cake. Medieval Times is not cheap, especially if you are unprepared and don’t warn your kids ahead of time that there will be no shopping, but it is something that they are going to remember forever. It was one of the best birthday celebrations we’ve had in a long time.