We have a small bounce house. We use it when we need to get everyone out of the house, but don’t have the energy to herd cats, I mean, buckle our three young boys into their car seats.
The bounce house is perfect for Sundays – late in the afternoon when nap time has ended, but before dinner. That time where it would be frowned upon to crack a beer inside while the kids play with trains. But for some reason, if outside, it’s totally acceptable. Like a form of Sunday Funday for parents.
Sometimes I sit and watch. I cheer at the appropriate moments, like a well-behaved mom.
Other times, I dive in like a kid. Tackling my boys and like a rocket-launcher, throwing them into the bounce house as they squeal and scream, “Again! Again!”
Recently, I summersaulted into the bounce house to take a break from my job as a human catapult. As quickly as my boys bounded into the bounce house behind me, they retreated.
I saw them looking up our driveway. I followed their gaze. Two girls, older than my boys but far younger than me, were walking down our driveway.
My boys yelled their names and ran to them. I was left flailing in the bounce house all by myself.
Suddenly, I was last year’s Christmas present, low on batteries, gathering dust in the corner. Sprawled out on the floor of my children’s bounce house, nauseous from the one summersault, fumbling awkwardly to find my way out as my joints cracked.
As I stumbled out of the bounce house, my boys brushed by me. They were leading the neighbor girls into the bounce house and I had become invisible.
I was getting younger-girled in my own yard!
Five years earlier, I had locked down my husband. I thought I had a few years of reprieve from this dance. I thought my days of worrying about mini-skirts, halter tops and hair-twirling tactics were over.
They weren’t layering tinted moisturizer on their flawless skin in the pre-dawn hours to ensure a princess, not a warted witch, emerged from the shack castle. Or slathering on face oil before bed to ward off the tell-tale signs of age. Or placing hot wax on their skin to rip hair from their follicles!
Yes, I have known my boys will start dating. I have known they will eventually choose to listen to some girls over me. I have known that they will eventually start spending more time with those girls.
But I figured it would not start until high school. Would not mean anything to college and would not get really serious until after grad school (I can dream).
I had no idea it would begin so early. Younger girls! Minutes earlier I had the shine of Barbie. Now I more closely resembled Midge, with her hair chopped off and a leg missing.
Eventually the girls moved on – distracted by older boys (the male equivalent to females’ younger girls). My boys found their way back to me. At this age they always do, but one day my fortune will change.