It had been a long time since our last visit to the bouncy house. So long, that I had forgotten the reasons behind the long absence…until today.
When I brought up the idea of the bouncy house, it was a no. He said that it was loud, crowded and not a good place for a “kid like me.” I knew that he was right, but I didn’t want his past experiences to dictate the rest of his life.
I made a different agenda after several no responses. We would run a few neighborhood errands with a final stop at our favorite coffee place. I didn’t dress for public appearances since, we were “definitely not going to the bouncy house”. Comfortable lounging pants, Uggs, and a pullover sweatshirt would be the uniform for this day.
As we pulled out of our street, I heard from the back, “Is it too late for the bouncy house?”
I wanted to say yes, it is too late. I wanted to stick with our new plan. I wanted to remind him of all the reasons that he had previously said no. I was in the ugliest outfit and should not be among the mommy friends that had showered, applied makeup, and made plans to visit while their little ones played.
“No…it isn’t too late.” I turned the car around.
When we arrived, the parking lot was so packed that it required us to park and walk a distance that we hadn’t experienced before. This should have been a warning. We paid, walked in, and immediately the memories flooded my mind. The loud kids, the loud music, the loud carpet; all of it was a sensory explosion, even to me.
I was not only knocked over by the sensory aspect of this visit, but the emotional aspects. We had made these visits before as a toddler, a preschooler, and as a kindergartener. He had played the role of both the guest and the birthday boy on more than one occasion. All of this craziness had served as the backdrop for many photos; however, when I reflect on these events, they usually ended with my TBP in tears, a beat red face and a sweaty head.
These are my thoughts as I watch my big kid, maybe the biggest in the room, trying to decide if he was going to attempt any of these structures.
“How about this one?” I said with a smile. “I can stand right here and see you.”
He quickly walked off and climbed inside. Not long after, he stood up, searching for my eyes and I waved at him. My boy was standing a foot taller than most of the other guests; however, he was more uncertain than all of them. Seeing me, gave him enough strength to finish this obstacle course. I got him to repeat that process three more times before he announced that he was done with that one .
“Do you need a short break?” I asked, trying to sound casual with my words. “No. I can’t go in there again because I saw a kid pick his nose.” I didn’t want to even think about all the picking that had probably taken place in that place!
“How about that slide one?” I pointed to the far end of the space. I started walking before waiting for his answer. My TBP followed me, he stared up at that structure like he was about to tackle Mount Saint Helens, and then slowly climbed the ladder that others were quickly tackling. He paused at the top for a while and observed some girls fighting about who would go first.
Finally, he slid down and walked over to report a curse word that he heard, one that had passed through his lips on more than one occasion. I smirked and said, “It’s a good thing you aren’t in charge of them.” He wasn’t looking at me anymore; his eyes were glued to all the safety warnings on the side of the puffed up slide that he had just visited. I stood and watched dozens of kids run and push their way up the ladder, totally unaware and uninterested in the warnings that were listed, while mine couldn’t dampen his awareness.
“Well that one is out. It says “no glasses” and I’m quite sure all those people put it over the suggested weight limit.”
I looked at my son and he was visibly uncomfortable. The color had left his face and when he sat on the bench next to me, he leaned into me as if he needed more than just emotional support, but physical too. “We can go if you are ready.” I expected that he would jump right up and beat me to his shoes. “I don’t want to go now and waste your money.” I told him that wasn’t his concern and I guided him through the now really loud, really crowded room.
Once outside, I told my TBP that I was proud of him. I explained to him that it would have been easier to stay with the “no” and that I am proud of him for taking a chance and saying “yes.” I hope with the changes that we are making, he will begin to feel comfortable saying “yes” to a lot more things!