Pump It Up!

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As a child, I was below average for both weight and height. Not much has changed in my thirties. Most activities requiring physical interaction with other people have always seemed very daunting. I am also a germ-a-phobe and claustrophobic. This collection of qualities makes things like spelunking, contact sports and camping laughable notions to me. But, I am determined not to pass my fears and worries on to my children.

Luke, our three-year-old, has already started exhibiting many phobias, however. He doesn’t like swimming, crowds, new foods, bugs, heights, rainstorms, water fights, the Incredible Hulk, button down shirts…you get the idea. Well, yesterday we were invited by a family friend to a birthday party at a place called “Pump It Up.” This place is basically a giant warehouse filled with massive inflatables that kids go into and bounce to their heart’s content. Great idea, right? Well for most people without thousands of neuroses, it would be.

I knew Noah, our highly physical, dare-devil would be fine. In fact, he updated me on his levels of excitement the whole way to there. “Mom, I am a little excited,” he informed me as we backed out of the driveway. “Mom, I am medium excited,” he said as we merged onto I-75.
Then as I started unloading the stroller and diaper bags in the parking lot, he started jumping up and down shrieking, “Mom! I am SUPER excited!”

As expected, my Bull in a China Shop ran into each inflatable head first and was soaked with sweat within the first five minutes of us arriving. I am not sure he even remembered to wish the sweet birthday boy, Kai, a happy birthday until we were in the parking lot getting ready to leave.

Meanwhile, cautious little Luke wanted nothing to do with the noisy, unstable, terrain of the inflatables. He played on the oversized foam blocks in the corner meant for children half his age. He slid contentedly down a two foot slide, his feet reaching the bottom after he’d slid down six inches or so. And he really tried to convince me that this was so much fun, but I wasn’t buying it and I wasn’t about to let him miss out on all the fun with the other kids the way I had as a child.

I dug deep and pushed aside my fears of the germs that probably coated every surface of the giant castles. I mustered up my courage to face that group of unnaturally tall four-year-olds who seemed to be running the place and grabbed Luke’s hand and said, “Come on.” I pulled him toward an inflatable in the corner where very few kids were bouncing.

He pulled back and wailed, “No! I am afraid.”

I bent down next to him and said, “I am too. I need you to go with me. I want to be brave like Noah. Look how much fun he’s having!”

Luke looked over at Noah running with the giant preschool-aged wolf pack and frowned. “No,” he said.  But I could hear a hint of possibility in his tone.

“Please?” I begged. “I promise, we won’t do anything crazy. I just want to go down the slide one time. I need you to help me climb to the top.” He didn’t say anything, so I knew I had to act quickly. I tore off my sandals cursing myself for not wearing socks (plantar warts, here I come). Then pulled Luke through the much too tiny, net covered door (like that’s really going to stop anyone from falling out) and together we stood trying to keep our balance like two people walking on land for the first time. We stumbled over to the grimy inflatable steps. I got behind him and pushed his bottom up the narrow incline. We climbed slowly and then a big five-year-old tried to muscle past us.

“Hey dude, can you wait for this little guy to get to the top please?” I asked as politely as I could trying to sound cool and not at all like I was freaking out about being sandwiched between the sweaty child and the vinyl wall. He sighed with annoyance and I raised my eyebrows at him. He looked away then bounced out of the inflatable.

Luke stared down at me. “I want to get down, Mommy.” The corners of his mouth were pulled down in a very serious frown.

“Lukey, we can do this.” I squeezed his hand and shoved his butt up the ladder feeling the netted walls closing in on me. My head was brushing the ceiling at the top of the slide and I was having difficulty breathing. I started laughing at myself for how pathetic I was. Luke scooted himself between my legs and actually had a smile on his face. “Ready, Mommy?” he asked pointing down the slide.

“Yep!” I hugged him close and we zipped down the slide together.

He squealed with excitement but when we got to the bottom he said, “That was NOT fun, Mom!” Ugh, seriously?!

That’s when Noah bounced in, sweat dripping from his hair and neck and said, “Hey Lukey! Come down the slide with me.” I smiled at him and pushed the wet hair off his forehead. Luke looked up at me and asked me to go down the slide with him again. Thankfully we made it up faster than before and weren’t deterred by the two or three other kids who joined us.

So Luke and I started having fun. Noah pulled him down the slide. Together, they broke the rules and climbed the slide, making the other kids upset that they couldn’t go down it and I didn’t say a word because Luke had this big, happy grin plastered to his face. I was proud of him. To be honest, I was even a little proud of myself. Germs and tight spaces be damned, we did have fun!

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. But sometimes this whole mom thing really does require me to push my limits and let go of my worries. We survived it. No one was injured and Luke may even be more willing to do the bounce house at the church fair later this summer. And I haven’t even noticed any warts yet- bonus!

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Introduction: The Neurotic Optimist

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There is this song by Bjork called “Hyperballad.” The lyrics are about her going to a cliff each morning and throwing household objects over the edge to see what will happen when they hit the rocks below; what kind of sounds they will make, what the crash will look like, etc. And then she even imagines throwing herself over the cliff, not in a suicidal way,  just in a morbidly curious way. Then she scurries back to bed to the safety of her love and feels so relieved and grateful because the horror she just imagined was only in her head. I guess that’s how I interpret it, anyway. And I mention it here because I do this multiple times a day. Only my neurotic thoughts seem to be hard-wired in my head and I do it more because I am a worry wart, not predisposed to morbid fascination.
I imagine scenarios where anything that could go wrong does, but always hoping for a better outcome. And then when things end up being fine (and they usually do) I am so thankful and relieved that I have the life I have. I realize this is probably a really unhealthy way to spend my time thinking about my days, but hey, look at the title of my blog. That’s kind of my thing.
As a stay-at-home mom of three kids, there are opportunities aplenty for these irrational, dramatic fears though usually they are trumped by moments of not only great success, but really tender, loving occurances that I feel compelled to share with others. Example: Wow, letting my three and four year old boys make their own lunch really didn’t lead to my kitchen exploding or anyone getting electrocuted! And we all sat down at the kitchen table and enjoyed messy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while talking about boogers and Legos.
I also feel I should share my experiences with people for several reasons. First of all, sometimes they are hilarious and who doesn’t like to laugh? And second, I find in this age of pinterest and facebook, we can all “appear” to be doing everything flawlessly like taking the perfect family vacation where our children play nicely together, no one gets carsick and no one ever fights. We all do crafty activities in an immaculate kitchen and have perfectly decorated homes with clever handmade artwork on the walls. And while that may be some families’ real lives, I know that it’s far from the truth for mine. My kids fight. I even yell at them sometimes. I am sure there is probably dried urine under the seat of my toilet. I haven’t dusted my house in about three weeks. And my newborn lies on her play-mat more than either of her brothers ever did and even though I am sure she will have flat head syndrome or feel neglected for years to come because of it, I am hoping that somehow no one will die of infectious disease or need years of intense psycho therapy because of my short-comings as a mother. I can honestly say that although we are far from “pinterest-perfect,” I think we are making it. We have a good family. I am a good mom (I hope). And you are a good parent too! We all are doing the best we can.

Our family of five

Our family: Grace, Me, Scott, Noah and Luke.

Other details that will probably come in useful when reading my musings are just the facts. Our little family of five lives in southeastern Michigan. My husband Scott is a financial advisor. We have been married since 2006. We have three wonderful children: Noah born October, 2008; Luke born May, 2010; and Grace born in May, 2013. As I mentioned before, I am a stay-at-home mother. I enjoy writing, then trashing it when I realize how inadequate and uninteresting it probably is. I also am a recreational runner and recently started pilates. I am a vegetarian, my husband eats a plant-strong diet at home but anything he wants outside of here.  My kids eat fruit and anything out of a package. I have no idea what the classification of that diet would be… but you’d better believe you will see more than one blog entry about my evenings as a frustrated, discouraged, short-order cook who  knows her kids are horribly malnourished!
So that’s me! I hope you will visit often and judge little and not the other way around.