Submitted by Joe Beckman at PapaGio.net
Disclaimer: I am not a fun hater. Quite the opposite really. I like roller coasters, water slides, high-speed rollerblading, and other actions that get the heart pumping and the blood flowing. Adventures are an essential part of life, and I hope that my daughter takes on several in her lifetime.
With that said, when it comes to life or death situations, or those where there is an 80% or higher chance of injury, you can count me out. Enter stage right “The Jumpy Castle.” These “soft” and “plushy” oversized air mattresses lead one to believe that everyone who enters is in for a world of fun. I realized however, that this is a trick and these death traps disguised as colorful comfort are about as risky as speaking up for your inalienable rights in Iran.
Back in the day, Jumpy Castles were an aberration. You might see 1 or 2 a year…tops. Now they are everywhere. Community centers, theme parks, county fairs, daycares, weddings, prisons, etc…
Below is an account from a non-traditional stay at home dad and our lovely, yet sticky adventure with the Jumpy Castle. Enjoy.
At breakfast Sophia, my 2-½ year old daughter, and I discuss the options of our day over a bowl of cereal and her new favorite concoction; oatmeal and syrup. I throw out the idea of going to a community center who is advertising an event called “Toy Time.” Before I can even get out the word “Time,” she has agreed and promptly leaves her bowl of oatmeal to head for her bedroom for a change of clothes (more on this debacle in a later post). Several outfits and a successful “potty chair” visit later, we are off.
We arrive at the community center, and the event lives up to it’s title, as there are certainly are a lot of toys. Unfortunately there are also a lot of kids, none of whom are too keen on the whole “sharing is caring” mantra. Sophia tries entering one of those plastic Flinstone-esqe looking cars, but before she can get in, a young boy opens the door, and pushes her out.
Instinctively, I go to physically remove the boy from the car and give him a lesson on road rage, but before I can, his mom comes over and says,
“Did he just take that from her?”
“Yes,” I say, confident that the mom is going to scold her wicked son, and give the car back to Sophia.
“He deals with big brothers all day, so he’s used to having to fight for things.” She shrugs her shoulders and leaves. I shrug my shoulders at Sophia, and whisper to the boy,
“Santa Claus saw that, and he NEVER forgets.”
Just then Sophia spots it…the heavens break, the Halleluiah’s sing out, and the light shines down right over the top of…a Jumpy Castle.
“Papa, I go there.” And in a matter of seconds, she is done with the car, into the castle, and screaming in sheer delight.
At first I think, “OMG, this is heaven. A giant mattress with walls on 4 sides. She could keep herself busy in there for minutes…hell, for hours…for days (okay... pushing my luck). Maybe I’ll go read the paper or something and give her a little alone time.”
And then, as if somehow there is a scent of cotton candy coming from the castle that every boy between ages 3-5 smells, several of them start walking over. Like zombies under the same trance, they enter in 1 by 1. Only these aren’t your typical slow moving zombies…these are the “let’s go break our faces!” kind. I’m starting to get nervous.
*Side note: Little boys are more indestructible then a Nalgene bottle. Worst part about it is…they know it, and think beating the hell out of each other is more fun then a barrel of monkeys.
My daughter doesn’t even realize the danger she is in at this moment. Boys start jumping and flying around that castle without any fear of hitting, kicking, kneeing, decapitating, A parent of one of the boys approaches as yells, “Jonny, make sure you don’t break your arm in there again.”
AGAIN!?!? What the hell is this thing? The action is moving faster then a Chinese ping-pong match, and I can’t tell if poor Sophia is the paddle or the ball. At this point I think she is both. I hear her start to cry… “I’m going in,” I say to myself.
I awkwardly try entering…upper body in, lower body out. “Sophia I’m coming!” I yell heroically, trying to protect my head from the flailing bodies. And just then I hear another scream. Not from Sophia, but rather one of the boys. “GROSS!” 2 more screams, and then 4 more and then 8 more. Before I can realize what’s happening, they all at the same time start exiting. With no concern for the fact that there is an adult male who quite literally is lying face down in the door they are trying to leave from, they crawl and push and step right over me…all but one…Sophia.
I look up surely thinking she was going to be bloody or broken. Neither prove to be true. Underneath her, however, I see these spurts of liquid gently shooting up. “What the?... oh my gosh…urine.”
Turns out that not only when you pee your pants in a Jumpy Castle does it freak the hell out of 4 year old boys, but it also accentuate the areas where there are microscopic holes that air is pushing up from. Awesome.
Of course I forgot an extra change of pants and my diaper bag conveniently in the other car, but Sophia didn’t mind. After a quick clean up, we make our way to the car. There she drops her soaking wet drawers, sits on a blanket and enjoys the “breezy” ride home. I glance into the rearview mirror, and she has this smile on her face like she just out-foxed 10, 4 year-old boys, and did a better job protecting herself from said boys then her 30 year-old dad. True…on both accounts.