Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Incredible Birthday

A week ago Ben had his 13th birthday. He wanted to go to this new joint on the NW side of Des Moines called Incredible Pizza. It's a family fun center and buffet. So, I checked it out on the internet, downloaded some coupons off Restaurant.com, and we went there. The first thing I noticed was the l-o-n-g line outside! I couldn't believe it - on a Tuesday night? But, as it turned out there was some school group that was having a deal there, so that accounted for the long line. The second thing I noticed was the fish symbol on the door.

This is one cool place and I'd encourage anyone living here in the Des Moines area to check it out. I imagine that they are probably a franchise, so there might even be some in other cities closer to some of my other readers. The eating part of the establishment is done in a 1950s/60s theme. They offer a buffet and the food is pretty good. It's not a huge buffet, like say, Golden Corral, but it's substantial and offers plenty of choices. Then, you have three choices of where to eat your meal. They have one room that is done up in the living room and kitchen styles of the 1950s and 60s. They play Gilligan's Island shows in there. Another room is made up to imitate gymnasiums from that same time period. They have large screen tvs playing kids' shows and then smaller screens to the side broadcasting ESPN. The room we chose was the "Starlight Theater" room, made to look like a drive-in movie theater. They have black lights in there and a mural along one wall that looks like the countryside with twinkling stars up in the "sky." They play old movies along another wall. When we were there, "Showboat" with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren was airing. It made for a unique dining experience.

Another wing of the restaurant is a game room. They have all kinds of modern-day games, along with bumper cars, glow in the dark mini-golf, and go-carts. You choose whatever dollar amount you wish to spend, pay it, and they load it onto a debit type card. You then swipe the card at each game. This is where the "incredible" part of our night came in. I was playing a game with David and Ben asked for the card so he could play a wheel of fortune game. I gave it to him and then after David and I were done, I could not find Ben anywhere. We finally found him standing in line for the go-carts. In his hand he held a ticket for the carts, which meant he had already paid for the ride. I panicked! I knew there was just no way he was going to be able to drive one of those things. So I pushed my way to the front of the line and explained to the young men controlling the ride that Ben was on the autism spectrum and there was just no way he could do this - could we get a refund? They told me that they had groups of special needs individuals come through all the time. And, as one employee so eloquently explained, "Ain't nobody that can't drive these cars!" Ok, then! They promised they would watch out for and help Ben. So, with my heart in my throat, I watched Ben excitedly climb into his car. And you know what? He did fine. He had a ball driving that thing! When he got stuck, the young men maneuvered him back onto the raceway. Ben was all smiles throughout the whole thing. I had the thought as I stood there watching that he is probably more capable than I give him credit for. I just assume that he can't do a whole lot.

Afterwards, they gave Ben a "first place" ribbon and Ben beamed as he posed for a picture with it. About ten minutes later, I was elsewhere in the game room and I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was one of the young men from the go-carts. He handed me a small trophy for Ben and said simply, "This is for your boy." I could have just cried! It has the name of the restaurant on it and an engraving saying, "First Place." He didn't know it, but a few minutes later I overheard him talking to another employee and he was saying that he had to take apart two different trophies to glue them into one, but he was determined that "that boy" was going to take home a trophy. Ben has never in his life earned a trophy for anything.

So it was a good night. All the staff at Incredible Pizza was great. At one point I thought our diaper bag had disappeared (it turned out that Paul had it) and the manager was helping me look for it! As we were leaving, we saw a rack of Gospel tracts and literature on the wall - what a testimony!

We didn't get home until well after 10 and for some reason, Ben was in the throes of a massive allergy attack by then. We did his cake and presents, but he didn't seem overly impressed - just plowed through opening the gifts without any expression at all. I guess he was tired and not feeling all that well by that point. And let's not forget the autism factor - making the gift giver feel good is not at the top of their priorities. He stuffed most of his presents under his bed and hasn't done anything with them in the week since, including his camera that he asked for. Oh well. At least we have the memories of Incredible Pizza. That alone made the night worthwhile.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful place. How special of that employee to make Ben's night super special. Our kids can amaze us with their abilities sometimes when we aren't looking. Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.