It started out innocently enough. We had a playdate with a few kids and moms I’d been wanting to see at the trampoline park Lili had been aching to go to. Almost two months to the day of her liver surgery, she’d just gotten full clearance to return to normal activity, so after eight weeks of cautioning her against doing almost everything, I was determined to let her have a little fun. I bent the rules and let the kids watch cartoons and eat egg and cheese sandwiches in my bed, so I could keep an eye on them while I packed up the 108493 things needed to leave the house with small children. Once on the road, we promptly got stuck in traffic. I tried not to stress about being late. It wasn’t the end of the world, I thought, until Lili advised me that little T was “looking weak.”
This was Bad News. T is phasing out naps, and not necessarily with my blessing. He’s happier for more of the day if he sleeps for an hour or so around lunchtime, but despite my best efforts, he seems to be settling into a pattern of forgoing naptime in lieu of earlier eventual bedtime, and waking up later in the morning. Sounds blissful, right? Not so much. Two unpleasant realities of his new routine:
1. T gets more exhausted during the day, which leads to frustration he lacks the capacity to control, ultimately resulting in never-before-seen, five alarm epic meltdowns.
2. When he does drift off (usually in the car, but only when I’m trying to avoid having him fall asleep) and has to be woken, he is not a little grumpy, which was the case up until about three months ago. He is IRATE. This fury does not quickly subside.
Although Lili and I tried desperately to prevent it, by the time we arrived at the trampoline park, T was mostly asleep. The parking lot, usually empty, was overflowing, so we found a spot at the warehouse next door and ran over in the pouring rain. By the time we arrived at the door of the place we’ll call Super Bounce, we were half an hour late and soaking wet, T was miserable, and I was frazzled. When I opened the door, we stepped from the third to the seventh circle of hell, populated by wall to wall screaming, overstimulated children of all ages. The overwhelmed desk clerk couldn’t find Lili in the computer, so we had to go fill out a new waiver at a separate computer station. T refused to let me put him down, so I lugged him and the diaper bag over and typed out our information while he alternately tried to unplug the computer mouse and turn off the monitor. We got it done, and paid for an hour of bounce time plus the requisite $4 worth of Super Socks: bright orange, non-skid, generally ill-fitting ankle socks. T *hates* them.
Next, we removed our shoes and headed up to meet our peeps, who I hoped weren’t already on their way out, given that we were now nearly an hour late. Before we could even get to them, we were stopped by a hostile employee demanding to know what was in the 2 holiday-wrapped presents Lili was dutifully carrying. Seriously? Sneakers and a cat toy, I told her. Irritatedly, I wondered if the TSA had started policing trampoline parks. Finally upstairs with our crew, T was warming up to a major meltdown. Lili bounced away joyfully while I tried to exchange pleasantries with our friends over the increasing volume of T’s fussing and whining.
Another SB employee arrived to advise that T needed to be wearing Super Bounce orange socks. I explained that we’d paid for them, but he was too combative to let me put them on. Not only was he not interested in bouncing, he actually had on non-skid socks of his own. The man said that I’d have to put them on him or we needed to leave. Sigh. I muscled the socks on him while he swatted at me, eventually throwing himself on the ground, rolling around and kicking. Most unfortunately, a small child was in the line of fire and got karate-kicked into the foam pit. The good news: the child thought it was hilarious. The bad news: her mother did not. I apologized profusely and moved him off to the side, firmly telling him that it was ok to be angry, but not to kick people. That led him to switch over from screaming to wailing. I wanted to dive into the foam pit, cover myself head to toe, and hide. Instead, I sat down, tucked T under one leg, and rubbed his head while I waited for him to calm down. Shortly thereafter, our friends left one family at a time, until it was just me and T watching Lili launch herself joyfully into the air. His last sob had launched a massive booger out of his nose and onto my hand. Not having any tissues readily available, I cringed but left it there, unsure of what exactly to do about it.
T rallied briefly and bounced across the trampoline squares in the big-kid-area towards his sister. Halfway there, he apparently remembered he was wearing the detested orange socks, and flung himself back down to flail and scream. I headed out to retrieve him, only to be stopped yet again by the Super Bounce etiquette police, the same woman who’d hassled us about the Christmas presents Lili carried in.
Super Bounce Bitch: Ma’am, you’re not allowed on the trampoline unless you’re wearing Super Socks.
Me: I don’t have Super Socks because I’m not bouncing, just picking up my kid who’s about to get stomped.
SBB: Everyone on the trampoline needs Super Socks. You can go to the front desk and get a pair.
Me: I’m not leaving my toddler alone while I go to the front desk.
SBB: Ma’am, you can take your toddler with you.
Me (considering wiping T’s SuperBooger on her): I can’t take my toddler anywhere unless I go pick him up, which you won’t let me do.
SBB: Ma’am you can go get him if you’re wearing Super Socks.
Me: F*** Super Socks! Shove your f***ing Super Socks!
Blessedly, before I could say anything else that could get me forcibly removed from the premises, a loud buzzer sounded. It was 12:00 and the bouncers were advised to move to a different area. That gave me the chance to grab T and get close enough to Lili to tell her that it was time to go. I hustled us down the stairs, yanked off both kids’ orange Super Socks, wiped T’s booger on one, and deposited them directly into the trash.