As I stood at Pump It Up staring up at my 2-year old calling my name across the crowded room filled with motorized inflatable slides, I had an A-HA! moment. We were at our fifth jumpy house birthday party in about as many weeks and I’d been trying to deconstruct my distaste for the experiences since week 1.
I gave my jeans an upward yank to spare the parents a view of my mom thong and headed up the “stairs” to help Simon get down from the slide that scared the bejesus out of him just enough to cry for me but not enough to keep him off it. It was my third trip up to “rescue” him. Little kids were pushing past me and stepping on my head to get up before me. At one point I had a Spiderman shoe in my cheek, while another kid dressed as Batman grabbed my ass (surely just to have a good foundation for his next step up the ladder).
As Simon and I swooshed down the slide together– my hair doing that really hot static-y thing that happens when you slide around all morning on inflatable nylon surfaces– I knew exactly why I hated these things.
They make me hate children.
All children, including mine and yours and everyone else’s. It’s at the bouncy houses that I feel every inch of our evolutionary past. The violence. The struggle. The hunting. The gathering. The survival of the fittest.
The good news is that I hate the adults too. I hated the dads for being able to sit back and feign cluelessness about what exactly is supposed to happen during those parties. Hey, Chuck, Ervin, and John, you are supposed to get your ass up on these stupid things and help your kids.
I was totally jealous (which is the Southern version of hate) of the other mothers who (1) forgot their socks so couldn’t get on any of the “equipment” (freaking genius move) or (2) were out walking on the lake while their husbands manned the birthday party or (3) somehow were able to stand around in cute ballet flats while I flailed around trying to keep their children from sexually molesting me.
When I finally caught my breath and struck up a conversation with one of the other mothers, guess who showed up all needy and wanting to cuddle. Yep, both of my kids. Moooooommmmmyyy, when do we get cake? Hold me.
I really wanted to say, “Don’t touch me. Go play.”
They, of course, were having none of it. I wandered around holding both of my kids and whispering in their ears to please, please go play or we’ll leave before cake.
I also play this sick joke on myself every time: I tell myself it will be fine once we get to the food part. Just hang on, they are about to feed the kids pizza and cake; you’re home free. Honest to goodness, it’s like I’ve never done this before.
When the food comes out, I have to keep both of my kids from body slamming other children so they can steal their juice boxes. Or face planting into the cake. One of them always falls off the bench, so I end up cradling a crying child while trying to scoop their leftovers into my mouth with dignity.
Then, as if Satan hadn’t had enough fun, we are given a balloon on our way out. What does a fragile, sugar-poisoned
mother child NOT need? A balloon. You know what balloons do? They fly away in the parking lot so now I have one child with a balloon and the other with a balloon-shaped hole in her psyche. It’s so awesome to drive with a helium balloon bobbing in my rearview mirror. By awesome, I mean safe.
So, for those of you keeping track those parties make me hate: children, adults, ballet flats, cuddling, pizza, cake, balloons. What’s next? Ryan Gosling?