It was 7p.m. on a Friday night and I got the pleasure of sitting at Fly Trampoline while my 13-year-old gets to be a teenager. In my 'hey-day', I think the thing to do was go to the local roller-skating rink. There are no roller-skating rinks here in Fairbanks, Alaska...so it is a fun filled night of neon lighting, pounding music, and a bunch of 10–16-year old's jumping on large squares of woven polypropylene material, connected by coiled steel springs in the dark. What can possibly go wrong in this situation?
However, I cannot tell you the joy of watching our next generation doing the Electric Slide on trampolines! I use to be amazed as a young adult at those who could add a twirl and slap the ground. Now in days, kids are flying through the air and doing flips. This is evolution of mankind if you ask me. Me and google spent hours this morning looking up videos on trampoline jumping, and let me tell you- this is a thing with matching workout clothing, pounding music, coordinated steps, and competitions! Roller skating rings are out- the new crave is jumping.
Back to last night- I hadn't seen my son in 45 minutes. I was hoping that he was still alive. He had banished me to the far corners of Narnia with threats of a very painful high school experience if I emerged from my banishment before the prearranged meeting time. He actually tried to have me stay in the car (in 0-degree weather by the way), until he realized that I had the credit card. Having this time, or as I call it exile, had given me time to reflect on humanity and get to do my favorite hobby- people watching unnoticed.
Things that I noticed:
Kids are loud. Different degrees of loud. Their voices were in competition with the music and dancing lights. Screeches, yelling, crying, talking, whooping... all levels of noise. So much damn noise. However, the random 2–3-year-olds that were there took on the challenge of being heard over the 60 other kids-- and let me tell you, I ALWAYS knew when there was an upset 3-year-old in the building. Their voices were beacons for the hounds of hell. They have the ability to call the dead to rise up and overtake the world is they figured out how to combine their powers.
There are three types of parents at trampoline parks. There are the parents like me that were brought along only because they have a driver’s license and the access to the money. We were all sent to the back of the building with strict instructions to not make eye-contact with anything or anyone. I know this because we were all sitting in the same general area and never once talked to each other. There are the parents who are still on good terms with their kids and were allowed onto the floor. These lucky parents were allowed to be a part of the dodge ball games, more like the tributes for the game, but they seem to be having fun. Except for that one dad who emerged from the game with a black eye- I felt bad for him. Then there are the very serious parents of jumpers. They came in wearing workout clothing, stretched before emerging on the floor, and were pushing kids out of their way on the long trampolines. These were the parents that made a dedicated kid free zone for when the electric slide came over the speakers. When I say serious, I mean serious. One woman was banished from the group of dancers/jumpers for sliding left instead of right. I was going to invite her over to my group of parents, but then I remembered the rules- no eye contact. I looked back down to my book and pretended to read. Word of advice- there is no in-between position for parents, know what role you want to play before booking your spot at Fly!
COVID does not exist to children. Now, please believe that I am not one to tattle tell on mask wearers vs. non-mask wearers. I will leave that nonsense to Facebook. What I mean to say is that this disruption of 'normal' doesn't exist to children when you give them the freedom to jump, run, and attempt the very difficult practice Ninja course. No fear, no judgement, no screams of invading space or standing too close to someone else. No, the arguments ranged from who was out in the very angry game of dodge ball, or who did 4 spins vs. 3 spins when jumping into the pile of blue foam (a nasty representation of quicksand if you ask me, as I have been stuck in there a time or two and feared for my life). There was that game of laser tag that seemed to get a bit dicey according to the screams that floated from the black box. A few of us exiled parents looked concern and were prepared to go help. But then we remembered the threats of our teenagers and that was enough to wipe away any thought of being a hero, and instead settled deeper into our uncomfortable blue plastic seats.
By 7:30, I had finally spotted my child. He is alive and well. The blue foam pit of hell had not eaten him! Wait! I realized that he was not standing with Owen. Owen is a boy. Whoever was standing with my child was definitely not a boy. Why is she swaying with the music? Why are they playing soft music? Where is the damn Cha Cha Cha song? I need there to be some sliding to the left...away from my son.
A mother’s dilemma in the making. Make my presence known and risk the next 4 years of high school hell. Or secretly take photos of my son and the nameless girl to share with the family. My phone sneaks out of the purse, I get ready for the perfect shot. I feel the Goddess of Motherhood Revenge fill me with an overwhelming power- she is on my side! I am already planning the perfect hashtag for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The song changes. Some very loud rapper is blaring through the speakers. Is he speaking English? Why is my coffee bouncing towards the edge of the table? This is not music. This is the second coming and I am experiencing the trumpets blaring an indescribable horrible noise. Even the 2–3-year old's stop and look up in wonder. I lose focus, I am getting a bit nervous. I see the fear in the eyes of my fellow blue plastic chair parents. Is God and I on good terms? I am not sure if I returned his last text. Knowing me, I most likely left him on 'read'. Its confirmed, I should stop by a church on the way home if it’s not too late for my soul. I got some explaining to do to the big man!
Crisis diverted; minor panic attack only took 2 years off my life. I look up and my son is gone along with the nameless girl. I really needed a smoke break. It had been a while since I went people watching and I had forgotten how stressful and loud it can be. I get to get up and make my way outside when I realized that I am blocked in by a very angry mama. Think mother bear angry. An ugly angry. I sit back down because I was not going to risk that anger being focused on me, and besides I am nosey. What happened? As a supporter of my fellow mama's, I was going to give her space to handle business- no judgement! So, eyes down but ears wide open!
The words that were flowing out of this mama's mouth were news worthy! Amazing. Not one curse word in sight, but I knew that the teenage girl standing in front of her was planning on her funeral attire. What was the child's sin? From what the mom was saying, it was on Cain's level sin. What the hell happened? Then the dad walked up, holding what looked to be a very traumatize 6-year-old. Pieces of foam block were stuck to her hair and in her ears. I was beginning to catch on.
One eye in my book, the other eye discreetly watching, I am feverishly taking notes. I am going to need them for my blog or for the police report- I needed to be prepared. It seems that the older sister tricked the younger sister into doing a backflip into the quicksand pit of blue foam- and then left her unable to escape. Not going to lie, sounds like something I would have done to Jodee. I am pretty sure that Micah has done it to Gabe, who then did it to Kekoa. A rite of passage in my book.
The mama asked the daughter that horrible question that has no good answer- 'why'? And without skipping a beat the daughter replies 'It's a dog eats dog world and she needs to learn how to survive. She wasn't going to drown-drown mom!' This is it! I can't help it! I need to laugh. The seriousness on the sister's face, the pure anger on the mama's, the tears running down the little sister's eyes. And the dad! Our eye's meet, laughter playing behind his as he tries to take in the gravity of the moment.
'Well,'? The mama directs her attention to the dad.
This is it. This is the moment that solidifies their partnership in parenthood or he is about to be banned to the living room couch for a month. I was holding my breath. Anticipation filled my soul. I can’t wait to see the outcome of this situation.
The lights turn on to the building. Music stops mid song. We are all a little dazed and confused. The night is over. The younger daughter pats dad's face and says 'That was fun! Let’s do it again.' The family all breaths and I watch as they walk away together. Marriage intact and eldest daughter living to see another day.
It was finally 8p.m. Time to collect my son by standing near the door- out of view of any of his friends. Kekoa and I head home, he falls asleep in the car on the way- exhausted from his teenage experience. I am fully awake and planning on this blog. It was a very productive evening, but I still have a headache.