It was 6 p.m. on a Friday, and I got the pleasure of sitting at Fly Trampoline while my 13-year-old gets to be a teenager. I think the thing to do was go to the local roller-skating rink in my ‘hey-day.’ 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 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 who could add a twirl and slap the ground. Now in days, kids are flying through the air and doing flips. This is the evolution of humanity. I and google spent hours this morning looking up videos on trampoline jumping. 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 harrowing high school experience if I emerged from my banishment before the prearranged meeting time. He tried to have me stay in the car (in 0-degree weather, by the way) until he realized that I had the credit card. As I call it exile, having this time 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 competed with the music and dancing lights. Screeches, yelling, crying, talking, whooping… all levels of noise. So much damn noise. However, random 2–3-year-olds took on the challenge of being heard over the 60 other kids– and let me tell you, and I ALWAYS knew when there was an upset 3-year-old in the building. Their voices were beacons for the hounds of hell. They can call the dead to rise and overtake the world because they figured out how to combine their powers.
- There are three types of parents at trampoline parks. The parents like me were brought along only because they have a driver’s license and access to the money. Our children sent us to the back of the building with strict instructions not to make eye contact. I know this because we were all sitting in the same general area and never once talked to each other. The parents 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 game’s tributes, but they seem to be having fun. Except for that one dad who emerged from the game with a black eye- I felt terrible for him. Then there are the severe parents of jumpers. They came in wearing workout clothing, stretched before emerging on the floor, and pushed kids out of their way on the long trampolines. These parents made a dedicated kid-free zone for when the electric slide came over the speakers. When I say serious, I mean seriously. Other parents banished one woman from the group of dancers/jumpers for sliding left instead of right. I would invite her over to my group of parents, but then I remembered the rules- no eye contact. I looked back down at 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. I mean to say that this disruption of ‘normal’ doesn’t exist to children when you give them the freedom to jump, run, and attempt the challenging practice Ninja course: no fear, no judgment, no screams of invading space or standing too close to someone else. No, the arguments ranged from who was out in the furious game of dodge ball or who did four spins vs. three 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). According to the screams that floated from the black box, the laser tag game seemed to get a bit dicey, according to the cries that flowed from the black box. A few of us exiled parents looked concerned and were prepared to help. But then we remembered our teenagers’ threats, 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 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 four 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 fills me with an overwhelming power- she is on my side! I am already planning the ideal 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’. It’s confirmed that 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; a minor panic attack only took two years off my life. I look up, and my son is gone along with the nameless girl. I needed a smoke break. It had been a while since I went people watching, and I had forgotten how stressful and loud it could 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 would not risk that anger being focused on me, and besides, I am nosey. What happened? As a supporter of my fellow mama’s, I would give her space to handle business- no judgment! So, eyes down but ears wide open!
The words that were flowing out of this mama’s mouth were newsworthy! Amazing. Not one curse word insight, 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 did the hell happen? 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 will need them for my blog or 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, it 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; the 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 8 p.m. Time to collect my son by standing near the door- out of view 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.