The party was at a place called Romp and Roll, basically a padded jungle gym that was a cross between a psyche ward and gymnastics center. Oh-freaking-boy, I thought when I was told we were doing this. My daddy terror alert paranoia spiked to severe, with thoughts of Simon getting popcorned into the air by a cannonballing kid. What can I say? My anxiety is creative, as are my verbs.
We walked in and were told to take our shoes off. Wouldn’t you know it I hadn’t I prepared. Now on top of being worried about kid foot fungus finding its way to Simon’s mouth, I just so happened to be wearing a crummy pair of socks that were a little thin in the heal. It was laundry day. When everyone arrived, we were invited into some sort of clubhouse, passing under a four foot door where we sat down and were given a refresher in courtesy and manners. One little girl didn’t get the memo. More on her later.
I sat there, all Billy Madison style as we all acknowledged the birthday girl and waited for the pleasant sing songy woman in the tie dyed shirt to open the curtain. Seriously, she milked this curtain thing until I could hardly contain myself. Just let us in already! We—I mean they, want to play. Rules, rules and more rules. We get it, no pushing or shoving.
Finally, just before I staged a coup, the curtain parted and we stormed the padded playground. I took a breath, this was it, the first time I’d been thrown into the fire. I stood with my son in my arms. A cautious, perhaps borderline panicky dad of a 9 month old—it was time to sink or swim.
|Leaving the slug trail..|
My wife motioned for me to put him down. I widened my stance, looked around, and then set my fearless little guy on the mat. And there in the midst of the storm of knees and elbows, as kids flew and flailed past us with a total disregard to crawling babies, he just began laughing. He climbed the padded blocks, chewed on the mat, and left what was called a “slug trail” of drool as he crawled around from one attraction to the next, his father’s shadow hovering over him every step of the way.
I loosened up and had a good time. I even agreed to get in the bouncy house with Simon and Mom, which he loved of course. But you wanna know the best part? With everything going on, all the colors and pads and music and kids flying around the room. Guess what he saw and made an immediate bee line towards? The basketball goal. Yep, he saw those balls bouncing and flying towards the rim and he started right for it. It was the highlight of my day.
Oh, and back to that little girl. Or should I say that little menace. I had my eye on her, as she broke in line to get in the jumpy house, stole the bouncer Simon had worked so hard to crawl over to, and when she ate her pizza, she looked up to me with a look that basically said, “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it?” Well played Blondie, but guess who’s not invited to Simon’s first party? Yeah, feel the burn.
We left early, little Simon was well overdue for a nap and was getting overwhelmed. Overall, it was a great time, even if we were only there for an hour. I have a lot of parenting to do before I’m ready for big parties, that’s for sure, but it was a well needed glimpse into what’s in store.