My nephew had his fourth birthday party at a bouncy house haven the other day.
It was a brilliant move by my sister-n-law really. It was Memorial Day. Everyone was on or by the Lake enjoying the spectacular sunshine and no one but our wacky family was at the indoor arena for children.
I have to admit, the second I walked in the door, I was taken by the colors, the confetti-splashed carpeting, the bold, primary colors. One can't help but be instantly transported to childhood with the sights and sounds. There are no arcade games. Just an oversized, brilliantly planned out play structure and huge inflated bouncy slides higher than your eyes can see. The visions were somewhat daunting to us adults, so imagine my 3 year old as he looked up at the giant slide. He wanted me to go with him. Since it was only our family there, I thought what the hell why not. So I took him up, managed to maneuver my way through the maze leading to the giant inflated climbing wall and hanging rope. I skillfully and proudly make my way to the top of the slide and my little guy wants us to hold hands going down. Look I'm not a physics scholar so I really don't think about the fact that I'm going to go down a whole lot faster than he is - but my pea brain figures I'll work it out on the way down, so as not to rip out his arm from his socket from the sheer force of me flying down ahead of him.
One. Two. Three. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Sure enough, I'm zooming down ahead so I brake with my elbows. My elbows. My poor, poor, unassuming elbows. I could smell the odor of fresh smoldering skin as I skidded down this giant slide, still trying to stay connected with my little one. When we got to the bottom, his face was of joy and accomplishment. Mine was of severe pain and trauma. I looked down at my elbows to find that I was missing a dozen layers of timelessly crafted skin. It was like a rug burn times 100 - and not from carpet, but from bouncy house material. You cannot imagine the pain.
As you know, having multiple children, you cannot do for one, without doing for another. Once Middler got wind of me going down the huge slide with Youngest, he insisted that I climb the giant structure and partake in the color slide race. There are 3 different colors to choose from, all engineered differently to go from slowest to fastest. This is not something I had figured out ahead of time, nor was told by any of the kids. YOU TAKE THE RED ONE! They all laughed and pointed. I thought, how hard can this be, it's just a simple slide - nothing to burn my elbows on - I can do this, and then certainly, I will be back in the running for MOST ACTIVE, HANDS ON, PARTICIPATING FUN MOMMY OF THE YEAR.
On the count of the 3, we were off. The next thing I knew, I was at the end of the slide and flying face first toward the wall of the funhouse. My hair flew in the wind, almost carelessly, as I yelled obscenities for all children of all ages to hear. I caught myself as I did an amazing Mary Lou Retton-type land onto the brightly colored mats between the slide and the wall and refrained from throwing my hand straight in the air as an Olympic gymnast would. I glanced around to find my kids and niece on the ground laughing hysterically at my surprisingly ungraceful aeronautical gaffe. Laugh it up guys, laugh it up.
At this point, I decided that it was time to join the other adults in the refreshment area and stop the shenanigans. I poured myself a cup of Lemonade from a powder-type of mix and winced a bit as the sour woke me up from my post-traumatic stupor. I nibbled on chips and dip and even though the pain of bending my elbows was almost too much to bear. I fought through the discomfort and continued to dip and chip, chip and dip, easing the pain with each calorie I took in. Now...where are the cupcakes...?
I always felt bad for being one of those moms who sat and chatted keeping one eye on her kids while at these places, and another eye on everyone else's kid who was within range of my own, constantly assessing germs and possible dangers in my kids' general vicinity. But now, after participating in the play structure activities and harming myself, I realize that my place really is standing on the confetti splashed carpet, near the bouncy blow- up slide, waiting in the wings with water and hand sanitizer when they are ready to come out at the end of a quarter during the 4 quarter birthday party. There is something to be said for knowing my place. And I'm cool with that. I don't want to be that mom that gets wheeled out on a stretcher and taken via Ambulance to the local Emergency Room for bouncy house related injuries. I've suffered enough humiliation in my lifetime - I'm all set.
Until next time, I have giant burns covered with huge brown bandaids on my elbows, a rug burn on my ankle, and a bruised ego.
MaryLou Retton, I am not.
Cheers and Love -