Monday, November 2, 2009
Maybe You Can't Buy Happiness But You Can Rent It
Saturday was busy. The bouncy men arrived at 6:45 a.m. I stood in the cold, damp, dark backyard as they positioned and inflated the "Balloon 3 in 1 Combo" for the party that wouldn't start until 4 in the afternoon. But Halloween is the busiest day of the year for bounce house businesses so deliveries start early. I learned this fact the hard way two years ago when I tried reserving a bounce house just a week before Halloween. Pickings were slim and I was left with only a simple, generic bounce house. Well not this time.
Two Little League baseball games later, the party was underway. Kids whipped around the bouncy in their costumes. They flung themselves down the slide. They ran into the house and stuffed their faces with Chick-Fil-A nuggets and those bakery cupcakes. Repeat for ninety minutes. Then we had a trick or treasure hunt followed by more bouncing/sliding and eating.
A good time was had by all. Happy kids, happy parents, happy me. Only a few sad moments, a clone blaster (plastic gun-like weapon that makes cool sounds) found its way into the bounce house and was snapped in two. A couple of boys bonked heads and required some hugs and a big kid fell and scraped his knee after running up the drive way during the exciting treasure hunt. Nothing some Neosporin couldn't handle.
At 6 p.m. we hit the streets in search of candy. Jake ran with his gang, Zach right there with him, and the parents trailing behind, taking pictures and making movies. Zach's bucket was overflowing in no time. Maybe because he had found our stash of candy to give out and dumped it into his own bucket before we left our house. We made our way through the neighborhood and then went home to examine the haul. Bedtime was late but we took comfort in the fact that daylight savings time would treat us to an extra hour of sleep.
Zach used his extra hour to get up early (5:30) Sunday morning and hit the Nick Jr. website hard. Jake wasn't far behind him and soon the boys were downstairs noticing that the bounce house was still in our backyard, lifeless, but there. "I want bouncy slide," said Zach. "Mommy can we, can we?" begged Jake.
But it's so early, just past 7, and it's cold and wet out there, I thought. "Ok, but put on sweats, hoodies and socks." I watched them get dressed faster than firemen and race to the scene. Jake had the honor of plugging in the blower and the boys watched together as the bouncy slide took shape.
They jumped and climbed and slid. Arm in arm my boys raced down the slide, mouths open, the joy uncontainable. I watched for a few minutes then went inside. I added sweater and socks to my pajamas and ran out to join the party. Zach couldn't believe his eyes when Mommy appeared at the top of the slide. He smiled so big his cheeks cried "Uncle". My boys and I slid together, laughing all the way down, ending in a tangled heap of arms, legs and love.
I noticed Andy standing in the doorway watching us play. "It's cold," he announced. "Yeah, but you get warmed up jumping," I offered. The boys and I hit the slide again and Andy disappeared inside. Just a few minutes later he joined us in the bouncy. Action Andy had been drawn into the cold by Zach's giggles and Jake's energy.
We all four jumped and Jake said to me, "You did a good job picking this out," which almost made me cry and I will not be able to explain why. "Yeah, this is much better than the plain old moonwalk we had last time," I agreed. Then this party of four climbed to the top of the slide and sat together, smiling, taking in the moment. Against the rules, we slid together as I held the tiny Flip video camera. The footage is rough and the audio is all laughter.
Soon it was time for breakfast and then church. We arrived home and I noticed Zach at the back door, looking over an empty backyard. "I want bouncy slide."
"The party's over, the bouncy slide is gone."
He turned and walked away, shoulders slumped. "I'm so sad," I heard as Zach walked upstairs.
I've already checked. The Balloon 3 in 1 Combo costs $1800.00 to own. Maybe we should start saving now.