Help! I’m Stuck Here

Close your eyes and imagine for a brief moment the wondrous fantasy of zen-like bliss brought to you via fast food and an indoor play area.  Yes, there are depths to which parents will lower themselves in the unlikely event of a moment’s peace.  Yesterday had one of those moments.

If you live in an often-rainy area and have children, you just might be tempted to shell out some bucks to take them anyplace where they might be entertained by anyone or anything other than yourself.  Many fast-food “eateries” have figured out this concept much to their financial gain.  I was at such a place yesterday.  And the whole screaming racket brought back some rather unpleasant memories.  Like what, you ask?

It was a particularly nasty winter day and a few moms decided that the hours between preschool’s end and the big yellow bus drop-off would be a great time to take the younger siblings to a local indoor play area.  I have to admit that the $4 cover charge per child seemed like small potatoes to get just a few moments without my child begging me to play yet another round of “drive the truck, mommy!” and “can you dress my doll?”  So, we traipsed across town, got everybody checked in and proceeded to plunk down the equivalent of a year’s college tuition on snacks and beverages while attempting to remove shoes and duct-tape socks to sweaty feet before the whole passel of energy bombs burst forth into the play structure.

Not ten minutes passed before the screaming ensued.  The particular screams which I could not ignore – the screams of my child.  “Mama, I’m scared!”  So, there I went, schlepping my aching knees up the play structure to coax my child from point A to point B.  Except, I’m middle aged and middle sized and those things are not made for folks like me.

It looked innocent enough, a padded opening through which I needed to weave my 5’2″ self to traverse from one platform to another.  Perhaps I was distracted by the copious amounts of tears, spit, and mucus coming from my child.  Perhaps my bum knee just isn’t meant to bend anymore.  Perhaps I need more carrots and less Ben & Jerry’s.  Perhaps it was just my turn to make the group of svelte pre-school moms to feel smug about themselves.  In any case, I got to a certain point where there was no going forward and no going back.

It took a whole group of preschoolers to get me out.  (Never underestimate the engineering skills of small children!)

I had barely returned to my seat, sweaty and disheveled, when I hear the same screams again.  But this time, it was coming from the ball pit.

“Mom, save me!”

There was no way she was coming or going, so into the ball pit I went to collect her.  From the just recently puked-upon balls.  The puker, by the way, was crawling across the balls toward my child – drool hanging like some nasty ribbon from his chin.  If you have never tried this, let me just say, it is difficult to move quickly through hamster tubes and plastic balls.

It’s been a few years and I’m still shaking over the horrors of it all.

So yesterday at the local eatery, when the youngest started crying, I turned to my husband and said, “Have fun.  I went through labor and delivery – you can handle this one.”