I’m sitting in one of those indoor kiddie fun zones, watching my daughters play. We find ourselves at places like these from time to time for various reasons – birthday parties, days off from school, rainy-day playdates, Groupon deals too good to pass up, etc. This time it’s a giant room filled with humongous bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses. For $20 the girls can play as long as they like, and I get to enjoy either 2 hours of great conversation with a friend or some much-needed time to myself.
But almost every time we come, what I really want to do is join my girls. I want to stuff my shoes in a cubbyhole, throw on a pair of cute socks with funny animals on them, and have the time of my life jumping, bouncing, and making a total fool of myself. I want to shoot down the slick yellow slide so lightning fast that I fly off and land right on my bum. I want to giggle like a schoolgirl when I can’t keep my balance while bouncing. I want to go absolutely crazy and not care what anyone else thinks. I want to play.
Instead, I’m sitting on a hard blue plastic chair, jotting down these playtime fantasies in one of Jay’s notebooks. Although it’s relaxing, and I’m definitely enjoying myself, it’s just not what I’m wanting to do. I can’t go play with the girls, no matter how much I want to. Being a grown up means that there are some grown-up restrictions, and that some things just cannot be. Case in point:
- There are giant signs on the equipment telling me that I’m not allowed. I don’t think my girls will understand that we’ve been asked to leave because I couldn’t follow the rules and behave myself. This place used to let parents join in (as evident in the picture below), but I guess the rules have changed. 😦
- Who would watch my purse? On this occasion I’d brought the girls on my own for a bit. Those cubbyholes are great for shoes, but I’m not about to stuff my nice purse in one. It’s one thing if a kid walks off with Julia’s $3 Old Navy flipflops, it’s quite another if I lose my Kindle, phone, and wallet. And keys. The girls like it here, but I think they’d get sick of it the second they realized we couldn’t leave because someone had “accidentally” driven the wrong car home.
- The girls need their space. Yes, I could follow them around and join in, and I’m sure that they would get a great deal of joy out of watching me be completely silly with them. But, on the flip side, it won’t allow them the room they need to “spread their wings.” They need some parent-free time to develop their imaginations, invent their own games, settle their own problems. No one wants their mom breathing down their neck every minute… it kinda hinders things a bit.
- Other parents might have a problem with it. Yeah, I know I’m not supposed to care what other people think. But I’m pretty sure it would creep me out to see some other parent hanging out in a bounce house with my girls, so I try to show the same respect to them. Not to mention the dirty looks I’d get when another kid starts trying to drag her 80-year grandma on the equipment because “their mom is doing it!”
- Truth? I’d be exhausted in 5 minutes. No amount of running prepares you for monkeybars, bounce houses, or the number of steps you’ll be required to climb in order to fully satisfy your child’s slide expectations. And even if I could somehow manage to do all that, I wouldn’t have energy to drive them to Burger King afterward.
So there you have it. All the reasons I have to resist the urge to join my girls on playgrounds. The thing is, despite the fact that I’m not always allowed or that it might not be the best idea, I love that I still want to. I know there are a good many fuddy-duddy parents out there who have zero interest in doing anything remotely immature. They want no part in coloring, Barbies, building forts and hiding in them, playing tag, Legos, and especially not playing on jungle gyms and inflatable obstacle courses. I’m glad that I haven’t reached that yet, and I hope I never do.
I just need to find a place that lets me play too. 😀
PS – That last picture was taken before they stopped letting adults play. Stinkers. 😛