When I die, despite my best efforts — or at least a mostly good intentioned lifestyle — if I end up in the fiery depths of hell, I know exactly what I’ll be doing for eternity. My job will be to supervise the hordes of disheveled, screeching children at Satan’s Trampoline Pit while the same three nondescript pop songs play on a loop, all by untalented, tone deaf brats who rely on auto tune to achieve the level of fame their parents will remortgage their house for.
There was nothing but selflessness that brought me to this popular indoor trampoline park during winter school vacation week. I’d like to point out a clear ‘you’re-doing-it-wrong’ parenting moment when, upon asking my daughters if they’d like to go, I was met with enthusiastic, yet puzzled faces. They asked why I was offering to take them as if it were a trick and I really planned to sell them both for their organs. How bad is it that I had to explain to my daughters that I’d like to take them because A. I know it’s something they like to do B. it will be nice to get out of the house and get some exercise C. they haven’t had gymnastics for a couple of weeks so they’ll be able to practice a bit. They were stunned (if not still suspicious) but ran to put on socks and shoes.
From the outside, all looks subdued and peaceful (except for the guy who came screaming into the parking lot apparently nervous that his kids would miss a precious minute of jumping time – probably the same spoiled kids whose parents are hoping their horrendous songs will be playing on a loop here within ten years.) But upon entering all my senses are overwhelmed. It smells of sweaty feet and deep fried chicken strips (and not even good ones but the ones that are bland and tough and have probably been under a heat lamp since mid-November.) There are seizure-inducing, flashing neon lights and children of all ages and sizes running at various speeds in every direction. The floors are sticky with spilled soda and fruit juice. But the worst part is the noise. The Godforsaken overabundance of noise. The aforementioned awful pop music sets a background rhythm to the machines that beep and ring in sync with the flashing lights, cell phones alerting calls and texts, kids yelling to everyone and no one in particular — and we haven’t even made it past the lobby. Once we’re in, the girls find one small, empty cubby to share and cram in their boots and coats. There isn’t an area to put anything down, so I juggle my laptop and my bag (which is extra heavy since I smuggled in a liter of seltzer water past the ‘No Outside Food or Drink’ sign because I refuse to pay $18 for a pint of their water) while I put the older one’s hair in a messy French braid.
They head off in one direction to the trampolines while I go the opposite way to the ‘Observation Deck’ to sit with the rest of the parents stuck biding their time until they can escape this torture. Miraculously, a couple is leaving as I approach and I’m able to commandeer their table. This is where I will hide out for the hour until I can escape to sweet, sweet freedom. From what I can see the girls are having a great time, which is the whole point of this excursion, so I’m glad for that. But when I notice a young boy and his father enthusiastically gesticulating sign language to each other, I’m genuinely envious of their deafness.
The hour goes by fairly quickly thanks to a combination of pointless games and web surfing on my laptop, along with the joys of people watching. (Although I do notice that none of the other adults there look as miserable as I feel and wonder if I should have smuggled a flask with my seltzer.) I’m relieved when the girls’ time is up and they come to me, flushed and sweaty, to let me know I’m allowed to leave. The car ride home is delightful for the girls, who are happy to be giving their tired legs a much needed break, and me, who is relishing the quiet of my placid car.