Bouncy Houses Bring Out My Hate

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.

Paging Dante. Time to update your rings of hell.  Image credit:

Paging Dante. Time to update your rings of hell. Image credit:

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?


63 thoughts on “Bouncy Houses Bring Out My Hate

  1. Pingback: Bouncy Houses Bring Out My Hate | duellmedicalsupply

  2. Going to one of these this weekend. Can’t wait! I once fell inside a bounce house while fetching my kid and was UNABLE to get back up for like 2 minutes because the little monsters wouldn’t stop jumping. Awful.

    • I know! It’s not easy to get out of them. URGH. I seriously haven’t been groped that much since I went to fraternity parties after home games. God speed my friend.

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:50 AM, Outlaw Mama

  3. Reminds me of my weekend. Had my daughter’s 8th birthday party at the bowling alley complete with pizza, all the pop they could drink, games, cake, and oh yeah, bowling. After hour 1 of the 2 hour party I heard “I’m bored” three times. Are you kidding me?

    • That part was what really made me hatey. You’re bored at the bouncy house? Kids, get a freaking grip. You wanna know boredom? Wait until you’re parents.

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:59 AM, Outlaw Mama

  4. I hear you sista! I usually feel like a “fun” mom for the first 15 minutes of those parties, climbing up and down the slides, jumping with my kids, pretending that I’m an energetic, carefree mom all the time. But then my back starts to hurt and like you I get tired of being trampled, pushed and snotted on by little terrorists, my own included. And oy with the balloons. Next time, let’s be the moms walking by the lake instead. Thanks for the laughs this morning!

  5. My son is finally old enough to hold his own in those things. But before that, yeah, it was just constant pleading of “don’t step on the little kid!”

  6. All weekend I drove past bounce houses and thought, “OMG I’m glad I’m not at that party.” Our rule about balloons was, you don’t get to hold your own balloon unless mom puts a slipknot in the string and puts it on your wrist. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.

    • Why did I not think of this? Probably because I secretly want them both to blow away b/c they are choking hazards and serenity destroying. Gah! Why do I hate balloon so much?

      On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 11:17 AM, Outlaw Mama

      • PERFECT idea. LOL!! (For the record, I used to be the sweaty, frazzled mom climbing up the “stairs” to play with the kids. And I can admit to recently enjoying some time of my own at Jump Street. I am looking forward to the day, though, when my kids don’t think it’s cool for me to hang out with them anymore.)

  7. Bouncy houses are demonic. They make me want to pummel other people’s kids. And push them down and laugh while they cry. I think maybe they cause unwanted mental and physical evil possession too. But then, I feel this way at Chuck E. Cheese too.

  8. Worst thing about having another child…having to go through those parties again. We started to have so many of them, I finally made the call that we will only attend one per weekend. I’m so mean to make them pick. But I don’t have enough migraine medicine to make it through any more than that.

  9. Ugh….that does sound hellish!
    I loved your description of the terror and the reference to Dante. All this reminds me of the bouncy house scene in the movie ‘Four Christmases.’

    I read an article recently about the dangers of bouncy houses. So, no bouncing for my munchkin. Yea, I’m that kind of mom. Lol

  10. I just spit out my drink. Hilarious! We share the same hates. For me just add in the self-riteous teenagers that run the place while the owners are vacationing in Aruba using the $350 premium we all pay to host our kids parties there.

  11. Kids birthday parties are the devil! As a nanny, I went to puh-lenty! But, I will say, there was a good time frame when the three boys I nannied where old enough to go to the bounce house parties and play on their own the entire time. I got to chat while I watched them, then I was taking home three sweaty, exhausted, happy boys who all took naps, even though they had outgrown them. It was most lovely 🙂 But before that? When they were smaller? Birthday parties were sheer torture. And it seemed like every kid they knew had a huge birthday party for every single birthday, so we were constantly going to them. There would always be fights, always tears, and clinginess, too. But my point here is, it will get better as they get older, and someday you will find yourself amazed to be looking forward to a party, especially once they are old enough to simply drop off and come back and get their exhausted selves later 🙂

  12. ha! i spent years loving pump it up parties, now i’m sick of them, because i’ve been to a million. i think your kids are young for that kind of party. my kids don’t bother me there at all. in fact, i’m the mom with a book sitting on the bench. i’ll wave to you next time i see you schlepping up that slide.

  13. When my son turned 5, we had a backyard castle themed birthday party for him. We made a “castle” out of a couple of refrigerator boxes. My son was so excited! Just as we were finishing it up, we noticed the neighbor down the street, whose daughter’s birthday party was the same day, inflating a 72 story (maybe a slight exaggeration) inflatable bouncy castle. My husband hid the box cutters from me lest I go cut holes in it.
    Bouncy houses will forever be on my shit list. Along with ball pits. Because that’s just gross.

  14. My son turned two this weekend, and this was exactly what I did NOT want for his birthday. We had a simple dinner, he opened a couple of presents, and we ate angel food cake. A peaceful afternoon. Birthday parties bring out cold fear in me.

  15. Yuck. Just yuck. Here is what I think about bouncy houses (and kid’s b-day party activities in general): If the kids aren’t old enough to bounce in the house (or do the activity) without parental assistance, save it for next year.

  16. Ugh. I could feel my ovaries shutting down as I read this. Maybe I can find a way to keep my daughter from knowing these types of parties exist. Or just make her really antisocial and weird so she never gets invited. What? I can’t do that? Damn.

  17. “…a balloon-shaped hole in her psyche.” So damn funny!! I never thought my toddler’s texture and socialization issues could be useful, but maybe they’ll keep him from wanting to go to these level of Dante’s Hell birthday parties. See, there IS always a silver lining!

  18. I am not fond of kid birthday party places in general – and the bouncy ones are at the top of my list. I think you and I would get along IRL famously!

  19. Well, hell yeah. When my kids were that little (little enough not to see the Evites or invitations in the mailbox, I just automatically regretted for every freaking birthday party that wasn’t in someone’s back yard. All of them, in other words. And now they’re thirteen and eleven, have tons of friends and they’re just fine. Whew.

  20. So glad to know I’m not the only Mom who hates bouncy houses!

    I admit, I cheat. Whenever my kids go to one of those things, I remind everyone about my old neck injury and explain that it would be far too dangerous for me to do any climbing. Yup, the Mommy equivalent of a doctor’s note. Then I get to stand on the sideline i cute ballet flats . . . okay, flipflops.

  21. Remember that birthday party where every adult got the elbow vinyl-burn injury, yet the children were all unscathed? What is it about bouncy houses that turn otherwise mostly civilized children into shoving, pushing, hitting, ass-grabbers?

  22. When my second daughter was quite young, she was in a bouncy house at a public event and the air started going out of it. It deflated on her and I was the only one freaking out that a little kid was going to suffocate in there,and I went in shouting and pulled her out myself. Suffice to say I loathe bouncy houses. And I remember that same balloon-shaped hole in my psyche as I watched a balloon from the only circus I ever remember coming to our little town float off in the sky above my grandmother’s house.

  23. So scary. I am always worried about the deflation suffocation. My husband is on standing orders to watch carefully and grab kids (especially ours) if that thing starts to deflate.

    • Shit. Now we have to both go to these parties and bring jaws of life to get our kids out if they deflate. What if it deflates when I am up there with my kids and my hubs isn’t there? What happened to good old pinatas and lemonade parties?

      On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 10:28 AM, Outlaw Mama

  24. I have found myself yelling things like, “This is supposed to be fun!!!” at my child while at parties. I will say that Nathan was one of those kids who was afraid, who made me go into the giant slide with him or just generally clung. But then he hit about 5.5-6 years old and everything has changed. We go to those places now and I can’t find him. Now I get to be the mom in ballet flats.

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