Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Bounce House: A gateway drug.

A bounce house is party heroine to my two boys.

"Guys, we are going to a party tonight."

[My boys: hands start shaking, sweat dripping off their miniaturized brows.]

"WILL THERE BE A BOUNCE HOUSE?!"

"No.  It's just a barbecue in our friend's backyard."

"CAN THEY GET A BOUNCE HOUSE?  OR JUST A BIG SLIDE?"

"No, those are expensive."

"But Dad, we NEED, we NEED!  How are we supposed to LIVE Dad?  I mean... HAVE FUN?"

"Well, I'll have to call my dealer."

I am not sure what things are like in other parts of the country, but it seems that almost every outdoor summer party in Utah has to have three fifty-foot-tall rubber castles towering over the festivities like climbable fortresses of air.

When I was a kid, these bouncy things did not exist.  We had to make due with swings, teeter totters and metal whirl-e-go-rounds with sharp edges and metal head-bang-poles.  If we wanted to bounce, we had to visit the neighbor's 5 foot high, net-less trampoline.  Ultimately, this endeavor would end by someone getting catapulted into the clouds and then landing spread-eagle, with a jagged spring in their crotch.

Ah yes, the dreaded crotch spring.  It's why the professional trampoliners wear cast iron cups.

I loved bouncing and I once bounced on a Pogo Ball for five minutes, but thankfully, that is exactly how long it took for the Pogo Ball fad to end. 

The truth is that these bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses are actually quite fun.  Never mind the occasional head-to-head collision or the overbearing soccer mom that screams at the other children for jumping too close to her precious baby wearing the $200 Gymboree outfit.

Even I have attempted the "slide of death", resulting in a nasty rubber burn that ripped the hair right out of my legs.  From that point forward, I was known by my American Indian friend(s) as, "Clumps-Of-Hair-On-Slide-Pouty-Eyed-Dork".  Indians come up with the most clever names.

So perhaps you are wondering: How much of an impact have these insolent bags of 90 foot hot air had on my kids? Allow me to illustrate an example from our recent past...

Friday we were to attend a neighborhood party with a bunch of people that we mostly like. (I say "mostly" because that jerk Jack was there with wife again.  I once drove Jack to his yoga lesson and he didn't give me any gas money.)

At this party, tradition suggested that there would be three enormous bounce houses and countless crying toddlers. (Not to mention the obligatory Beach Boys cover band and their three ancient members.  Well, two by the end of the night.) Our boys were completely aware of this party and their excitement reached fever pitch when the day arrived.  The only problem was that they had bickered almost non stop that day.  I had used the party as verbal leverage to get them to stop.

It's just something good fathers do.

"OKAY, that does it!  We are NOT going to the party tonight."

"But... but... DAD! What about the bounce houses?"

"There will be no bouncing tonight.  No bouncing, no jumping, no falling on top of the rich kids, NO FUN!"

[The tears stream, both real and fake. Mostly fake.]

"Daaaaaaad.  Come on.  What can we do?  The bounce houses!"

"You can go if you cut off your thumbs."

[4 year old runs to get a knife]

"No Calder, I was just kidding.  Okay, you can go if you both wear a girl's dress."

[Contemplating] "No dad."

"Last chance.  If you want to go, you have to eat a tomato."

"GROSS! NO DAD!"

"Well, that's the deal, take it or leave it."

The boys the each gagged down a fresh tomato from the vine - seeds plummeting across their chins and onto their shirts as if they were Bear Grills eating a juicy maggot.

They have never jump-housed a jump house like they jump-housed that jump house on that night.  Tomato guts will have that affect on kids.

87 comments:

Emmy said...

You should have taken a picture of the tomato eating. And yes, here in SoCal it seems to be the unwritten rule that every kids birthday is required to have one of these.

The Invisible Seductress said...

CLASSIC!! Well done!!!

Pedaling said...

somehow i missed that memo and out of all 6 of my kids we never rented a bounce house.....I'm always so out of the hip circle!

and i must say,
you have very clever reasoning/discipline/deals
with your boys.

Gucci Mama said...

I do believe I will nominate you for father of the year.

Mommy Lisa said...

One of our neighbors rents those things - AND there are places you can take your kids year round to play in bounce houses.

Its not a rule to get one in MN though...unless you live in one of the rich areas, or you are from Utah.

Kristina P. said...

I grew up in poor people neighborhoods, so no bounce houses for us, ever.

Hmmm, I think I am going to write Obama and see if he can get something passed in the healthcare bill about mandatory bounce houses for all kids.

Stolen Sentiments said...

Ah, trampolines without nets. Those were the days. Kids these days are soft...

Sugar said...

Nets? on tramps? pshaw! lol.. we never had that kind of special treatment.. if we cracked our heads, we got a wet washcloth and did it all over again..

I do agree..it is a new requirement to live in Utah..one must need a bouncey sumpin in their yard.

gopopgo said...

"with a jagged spring in their crotch."

It's nice to know that you can in fact recover from a jagged spring to the crotch to procreate.

Saimi said...

Yep, must be Utah thing!

Ms Bibi said...

I am so glad I don't live in Utah. There is not many parties with Bounce Houses around my neck of the woods.
My boys are 8 and 13 and are yet to eat a whole fresh tomato. Need to try your technique.

Dave said...

Every time I see a bounce house (I prefer to call them bouncy castles), I always think of a story a friend told us. Their kid was bouncing away until it was revealed that one of the other bouncing kids had a full diaper. You can guess the rest.

Copyboy said...

I went in one of those when I went to Maryland. Needless to say they are not designed for 30 and up.

tammy said...

Am I too old for a bounce house?

My friend's little girl just got her leg broken in a bounce house this weekend and the growth plate is affected. I'm kind of a little freaked out now. Maybe we'll stick with a swimming party for Connor's birthday. Drowning vs. broken bones...hmmm....

TS Hendrik said...

That is classic! You should have video taped that moment for posterity.

Garden of Egan said...

I think someone should turn you into CPS. Seriously. How can you NOT have a bounce house in your own yard 24/7?
Don't you want your kids to have any friends or self-esteem?
Poor little darlings.
And then to top it off you made them eat tomatoes.
Oh, the injustice.

Chaka said...

I just wish there were more bounce house inflatable Christmas decorations. I know it's cool to have a giant plastic snow globe on your front yard, but it would be way cooler with kids jumping in it.

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

I’ve always felt that bounce house are dirty, nasty, germy crack dens and your post just proved my theory.

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

Those bouncehouses are definately a requisite here in SoCal too! In fact, my son's party two years ago was at Pump It Up - a place filled with nothing but inflatables. My daughter's nurse still has a scar on her arm from going down the slide and burning herself!

Teachinfourth said...

I can't believe that you made them consider all of those terrible options before allowing them to go.

I want to be like you, Abe.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Imagine what a whole box of donuts would do for your kids!

And we didn't have bounce houses when I was young, either. We had to acquire our injuries the natural way.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

there was just a piece on the local news here about these bounce houses being dangerous because of the lead content in the rubber.
Scary stuff.

Connie said...

It really is a requirement in Utah to have a bounce house? I just thought my son and daughter, who each own one, were just trying to re-live their childhood which never included bounce houses! Tomato guts will do lots of things to children!
Good Dad! Jack's a jerk!

Missy said...

Bouncy Houses are a Level of Hell! A Level that I am Trying to Avoid...

Heather and Jake said...

oh Abe, you're so odd. My family had a big trampoline growing up, and ohhh the fun we had! But oh the many injuries that came of it! No broken bones, just a few split open heads, crotch spring injuries, tramp burn and bruises. Good times. I can't believe parents let their kids have those things. Our favorite thing to do was put the sprinkler underneath and do flips in the spraying water and try to stick the slippery landing. It's a wonder we didn't die.

DeNae said...

In MY day, we bounced on rocks and were damn happy to have them.

And Jack? He's gay.

I know I've never met him. It doesn't matter.

Hart Johnson said...

We only have bounce houses at the summer block party, but my son (age 11) uses his own money every other Friday to go to Extreme Bounce--a facility covered entirely in bouncy things to climb on, bounce on, throw people off of... (this took over for Jump City, which is apparently only a birthday party place for elementary school kids)--once you reach middle school, it is time for EXTREME BOUNCE. (I think it is the equivalent of when my friends and I used to go to the indoor pool in hopes of spotting that cute boy)

Melinda said...

Spring to the crotch--I laughed so hard because its TRUE!!

Marlene said...

Kids love to bounce. I would, too, if I didn't pee my pants every time I jumped.

Joe Cap said...

Ah, how the kids love bounce houses. The Daughter was big into them, only after she turned 11 did she finally get over it....

Pearl said...

Tomatoes used as enforcement. I am intrigued...

And I've always wondered about the protective cup the pros are using in world-class trampolining.

I'll sleep better tonight, knowing. :-)

Pearl

Jillybean said...

I'm pretty sure my kid still wouldn't eat the tomato.
He doesn't believe in vegetables.

We didn't have bouncy houses either. We usually just threw rocks at each other.

T said...

luckily my neighbor owns two of her very own bounce houses for all occasions. This means I never have to fork over the money for one OR have the big yellow square left on my grass from letting the monstrosity sit too long...

I hate 'em personally - of course, that might just be the vertigo speaking.

Everyday Goddess said...

You are good. Ve-ry good.

Meathead said...

I just had my son's b-day party this past Saturday. One of my neighbours asked if we wanted to borrow their jumpy castle blow-up thingy. I was hesitant, because if it got damaged, I didn't want to have to pay for it. Before I could answer her, she told me she would 'only' charge me $75 per hour. I literally laughed and said No Thanks!

MX3 said...

The only place I regularly see a bounce house is at the annual chili cook-off, and that is more than enough for me!

Heff said...

I just wanna see you wax your armpit hair.


"372, COMIN' UP !!"

The Empress said...

Hilarious!

HILARIOUS!!!!!

and so dang true.

We need a meth program here for my guys. maybe slowly move to a trampoline?

Just SO said...

I think bounce houses are evil. But if those slide can remove leg hair...maybe you have something there. Instead of laser treatments people could just go down a bouncy slide a bunch of times.

Baby Sister said...

I feel like I've been deprived. I never have experienced bouncing houses.
Tomatoes are amazing...especially fresh. I'll have to force feed my kids one day 'till they grow to like them.

Pat said...

Now THAT'S what I call discipline!

YOU WILL EAT A TOMATO!

Gosh, you are REALLY tough!

Mighty M said...

Sooooo funny! One of our neighbors has a bounce house and it is quickly becoming the borrowed item of choice around these streets, especially on rainy days because it fits just right in your garage.

I TOTALLY had a pogo ball too!! I think 5 minutes was about right. :)

Sam Liu said...

I love bouncy castles (that is what they're called in England). So much fun! Terribly immature, potentially incredibly dangerous, essentially futile - but overwhelmingly and giddily fun! I'm glad you and your sons appreciate them as much as me :D

Okie said...

lol...gotta love the bounce houses.

My kids were hoping we'd get a bounce house for our family reunion this year since our branch of the family tree was in charge of it.

I had to explain to them that 80% of the attendees at the reunion would be over 70 and thus we should try to come up with a way to balance our spending such that everyone could enjoy things.

Still, now that it's all done, I still think a bounce house would've been fun and I wonder how many of my great-aunts and -uncles would've taken the plunge. :)

Amy said...

Bounce houses aren't a common sight in Nebraska. Maybe more common in the wealthier neighborhoods. People in my neighborhood like to spend their money on vacations, nice cars and crazy high tech cell phones. Spending money on their kids...not so much.

Happily Cheesy said...

Got to love kids.

mintifresh said...

I love that he would cut off his thumbs but wouldn't dare wear a dress! No thumbs is manly...dress, not so much..

Unknown Mami said...

I wish you could have gotten them to eat a tomato while wearing a dress.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I must confess your profile picture drew me in. I am a lover of all things cheese!

And great post! Yes, those bouncy houses are here too in New England. But mostly they go to the indoor place (name escapes me) that is full of bouncy houses. Too much summer rain here to keep it outdoors at all times.

RaShelle said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . How did I not know you lived in Utah? I so get you. We have Kangaroo Zoo five minutes from our house. The teenager doesn't care but the others love the bouncing, sliding houses. LOL. A tomato too. Impressive. ;-D

MiMi said...

Hahahaha!!!
We had a huge bounce house/slide at a church get together a couple weeks ago.

Nancy C said...

We go to the indoor germ factory Bounce House places out here.

I very much want to move to Utah now if my neighbors would so thoroughly entertain my children at parties.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Awesome! Jump houses haven't hit here, and this post makes me glad. The tomato thing? Hilarious.

jennifer said...

Is there a Pump It Up or Kangarooz near you? It is a party center that is filled with inflatables. Your boys would enjoy it, me thinks.

wendy said...

That was hysterical...had me laughing on so many levels.

Kids have Waaaaay too much stimuli these days.

I mean, seriously, I wonder....it all starts with the Bounce House...then it's the Crack House.
gotta watch these kids these days.

do they think they can just bounce through life.

I played Kick the Can.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

With all that tomato in them, I'm thinking the bounce house ended up with lots of ketchup stains.
xoRobyn

Lourie said...

Oh I can just see these boys choking down those tomatoes. Sheesh garden fresh! I'll eat one and I don't even need a bouncy house to bribe me.

Mikki said...

So, my daughter is up with me tonight enjoying my blog reading time, and seriously she just about woke the whole household up along with the neighbors downstairs with her hysterical laughter. I guess that's better than trying to hold it in and possibly having her head explode.

Tortuga said...

Bounce houses FREAKIN rock!!!

I don't jump in them, mind you, but the way they can contain and entertain a kid that would otherwise be annoying the bajeebus out of a person: priceless!

ScoMan said...

Hahaha The fun you could have with those kids.

Bouncy castles aren't big here. Well they are, to kids, but then everything is big to kids. What I meant is, we don't see them very often.

Joann Mannix said...

Our next door neighbor has been getting those bouncy things for those kids since they were little. The oldest kid is now 18 and they STILL request those bouncy castles on their birthdays. They've got a lot of kids, so I've never had to rent one because I'm always, "Well, I think you got your fair share of bouncing on the neighbor's birthday, missy!"

On another note, I had a dream about you last night Cheeseboy. I dreamt you revealed you have a missing finger. It had gotten amputated when you were a little boy. I don't know how. But the thing was, they would have been able to successfully sew it back on, but you refused to let them. You said, even as a little boy, you had always wanted to stand out from the crowd.

Huh. I can't figure that dream out for the life of me.

Powdered Toast Man said...

You should of let calder cut off his thumbs. He would of learned a very valuable lesson in sarcasm.

Corrina Terry said...

You even made my hubby laugh on that one!!!! I am still laughing!!!!! Hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!

M-Cat said...

Bounce houses are for amatuers. What you need for your boys is a 20 foot high tightrope and some trapeze bars.

Give me 30 minutes with them.

Hutch said...

I'm glad to see kids learning the difference between Need and Want these days. I only wish my parents had listened when I said I NEEDED a horse, and the dog, and then the car. But did they? Nope.

Tyler and Lyndsay said...

Just so you know, we will never be at a party.. unless there is a bounce house. It's a pre-requisite to forming friendship with people... they just don't know it.

Tyler and Lyndsay said...

Oh, and YES we went to a Lifehouse concert back in April. I can't help it, I love them.

reasonably chubby said...

Hahaha! Bounce houses rule the world, everyone knows its true. If only I would've invented the idea.I could be one of those rich kids. But no. I thought the pogo stick was just fine...:)

Ally said...

Yes! I totally remember the bounce ball, I believe I'm envisioning the ball with Mickey Mouse ears. Great post. These bounce thingies are popular here too I'm sure.

Janelle said...

ahh...the power of being a parent, gotta love it!

I had plenty of pogo balls but could never bounce more than 2 times in a row, amazed that you held your bounce for 5 minutes!!

Marnie said...

Now that is one way to get them eating their veggies!

Sandra said...

How true...whatever happened to the days when teeter-totters were a good time? Or better yet, when scaling the bar linking one teeter-totter seat to the other...see, now that was fun!
Thanks for the tip on wearing the fanny pack to Orlando. I'd hate to stick out!

natalee said...

omg... they ate a tomato.... incredible.. i d have to stand on my head and shoot fire out my ears and my kids still wont eat one...hmmmmm a bouncy house thoughmaybe the answer...lol

GrammyMouseTails said...

I'll pass on the bouncy house. and the fact that you caved in for a lousy tomato makes me hide my face behind my mousy ears.. a tomato! You could of gotten a good 2 days labor outta them boys, didn't ya need your house painted or something? Or at least wear a dress while eating the tomato & being filmed for a public viewing at a later date. I don't like trampolines either... one son wrenched (?) his back by just jumping! and the older one sliced his (ahem.).. little 'boys' while trying to build a tree house in a neighbors trees that were mostly spindly branches.. so bouncy houses, got nothing for me... devils toys, thats what they are.... the mouse knows!

W.C.Camp said...

Tomato guts belong in salsa recipes! I like bounce houses but all the kids run in fear when I get in one. That air bag can only barely hold up itself much less ANOTHER air bag like me! W.C.C.

sinika said...

We won a small bounce house a couple of years ago that we put up twice a year. But my boys don't love jumping in it- they love deflating it while unsuspecting kids are inside. A real safe toy I know.

At least it keeps them too busy to make mud/dirt/rocks/broken glass drinks for kids who weren't on their favorite list that week like I did when I was little...

P.S. I can't believe I forgot about pogo balls! I think they should come back.

Dolly said...

Awesome story! I can remember my son pleading for a bounce-house when he was five also (he's twenty now). We saved for months for that rental. It was the biggest event that ever hit our little street:)

Bee and Rose said...

Tucson is the land of the bounce house...it's horrible! Once I witnessed a toddler going #2 in one...that was the end of that for my family!

McKenzie said...

Hilarious post!

All the kids in my neighborhood would get a bounce house for their birthday.

Shrinky said...

Ahhhhhh, Gawwwwwwd, that brings back nightmares. I've lost count of the bouncy castles (our term for them over here) we've had to rent and inflate, clear the sick off of from, and to administer first-aid because of.

Ours have long since outgrown those.

Don't get your hopes up, mind. Bouncy castles will seem benign compared to the parties you'll be banning them from, as teenager's..I hear tell the vomit-bucket and first-aid required at some of those still continue!

Very funny post, thanks for making me smile.

Krista said...

If you get around to reading this - I loved that your boys were willing to cut off their thumbs but not wear girls dresses! Classic!

daylily777 said...

No Bouncing houses was I a kid or when my kids were kids either ! But I think they are very fun for children & some adults .lol It is amazing that you got them to eat tomatoes. My son is 37 and he is yet to eat one .
Blessings,
~Myrna

Claire said...

I cant think if I have ever actually been in a bounce house, as a kid OR adult.
How sad, lucky kids of yours!!

I have something for you, on my blog, too!!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Is THAT why the mom with the manicured nails always glowered at my kids in their hand-me-down outfits?

I should have known.

Once again, thanks for the enlightenment, and the laugh.

Mary said...

You always make me laugh! I remember when a birthday party only consisted of a few stupid games, cake, and a sleep over consisting of asking the Magic 8 ball if Timmy would someday be my husband, and freaking out when 12 10-yr olds were magically able to levitate a girl by chanting "light as a feather, stiff as a board."

Deidra said...

You actually inflicted tomatoes on those poor children? :(

Party Bounce said...

I own a moonwalk rental company in Wichita Kansas http://www.partybouncemoonwalks.com and yes kids get really excited but man they're mad when we take it !!