Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jumper Bumpers: Fun and Agony

Last Sunday we headed off with the kids to a new place in Greensboro called Bumper Jumpers Indoor Playground. My mom had seen an article about it in the paper, and thought it looked fun. It's in kind of a crappy neighborhood and I would definitely not want to be there after dark because of that, but it was really, really cool.

You go in and sign a waiver in case you or your child falls and maim yourselves, then anyone jumping (parents are allowed to jump!) gets a wrist band. One thing that irritated me was that the girl put Jaymes' wrist band on very loosely, and he got it off almost immediately and lost it on one of the bouncehouses. Not a huge deal to me, but apparently to them. They are VERY neurotic about the wristbands and pretty much chastised me for letting him get it off. We found it, they gave it back to me and I stuck it in my pocket. More on that later.

There were a bunch of inflatables there, from one that was like a little round corral with bouncy animals the kids could sit on, to a huge obstacle course that ended in us having to climb 6-8 feet straight up. There was one that was just a big open jumping area with basketball hoops and balls all over the place. A lot of climb-up-slide-downs in varying shapes and sizes. Jaymes loved the big obstacle course, Sierra was partial to the Sierra Sized Bouncey with slide.

The floors are covered in those soft puzzlepiece mats, and it's really a very childproof area. Somehow they managed to keep all cords, wires, and those things that blow air into the inflatables hidden from view- that impressed me. It was nice not having to stop Jaymes from going after things; there was nothing for him to go after!

I took Jaymes, Jason took Sierra and my mom went along with whoever she could keep up with. The first thing Jaymes wanted to do was try every bouncy. So I ran behind him, panting a little more heavily after each trip. And then came the Obstacle Course.

Please keep in mind, I fractured my pelvis not a month ago. I also have asthma. These things generally do not bug me much as long as I avoid sitting on the ground, crawling, climbing, doing stairs, excess exercise etc. Guess what I did on the obstacle Course? All of those things! I climbed up a steep set of plastic ladder things attached to the inflatable, huffing and puffining. Make it to the top, only to see Jaymes' little feet disappearing at the bottom of the slide, through a disturbingly small opening into a tunnel. Slide down, hoping I don't land on Jaymes, which really wasn't an issue as he was WAY ahead of me. Ram into the opening that I was supposed to climb under, because I am a little larger than Jaymes is. Slither down on my belly and creep toward where the boy has gone, only to find myself in a larger chamber with 4 possible escape routes. Hmm, which way did he go? Turns out 2 of the 4 tunnels go back out front, and are not supposed to be used as escapes, but entrances. So I try a 3rd, and find myself face to face with jaymes rear end, from an awfully big height. At this point, I'd found myself facing a 6-8 foot tall inflatable wall with just those little plastic nubbies to get up on. I am shocked that Jaymes could climb that, he's good. No toruble at all, he just scaled it like a little monkey. Figuring that if he could do it, so could I, I took a deep breath (I'm scared of heights) and followed him up. It was easier than it looked, and I guess if I'd fallen I'd have bounced right back up, but man it was some hard work! I took so long to get up there that when I reached the top, Jaymes popped up behind me (having slid down and come all the way back up through while I was climbing up), shoved me out of his way, and went down the slide to do it all over again. The slide was FUN. I bounced the whole way down, guess maybe I sat down too hard or something, but it was really fast and I admit to giggling like a moron the entire way.

At this point, I think it was safe to say I was entirely covered in sweat, had a beet red face, and was wheezing just a little bit. But hey, what a great way to burn some calories, right? I reallly love bouncehouses. Have since I was a kid, and I've always been irked at not being allowed to jump with the kids most places. Anyway, we decided to take a break. By break, I mean Jaymes streaked off past Jason and Sierra, and I shot toward Sierra, scooped her up and told Jason Jaymes was all his. Yep, I'm that evil. At this point, I get to hear the story of the rotten little boy, his book reading cellphone talking mom, and Sierra. Apparently Si-Si was bouncing in the biggest open bounce house, the one with the balls, and some little boy about Jaymes age came in, knocked her down, and literally started jumping on her belly and head and laughing at her. She didn't cry, Jason said she curled up in a ball and sucked her thumb. My mom yelled at the kid and he stopped and ran off, and Jason rescued poor Sierra, who didn't seem too traumatized surprisingly. Later, everytime we saw the mother of the little boy, she was following about 20 feet behind him reading her book or blabbing away on the phone. All baby jumping-on aside, who the hell comes to such a fun place to read a book or babble on the cell? That kid was a pushy little snotball. Literally a snotball too. Something about watching a kid eat his own boogers for 15 minutes straight just makes you want to claw out your own eyes. And it's like a train wreck, you just can't look away, you're mesmerized. Plus I was too tired to stand up and move.

Now, back to wristbands and rules, and staff. I've never been to a child oriented place that was SO strict about things. I guess I understand why, but I think more tact and respect could have left me with a better taste in my mouth. We had several encounters with staff, and other than the first, they were all kind of uncomfortable. First off was the young woman who put the wristbands on. She was very nice and everything, but she didn't put Jaymes' band on well and didn't tell me that would be a huge issue later on if he got it off. She just said to keep it with me if it came off. When it came time to go in, the bomb was dropped on Jaymes.

"He can't jump with that blanket."

Oh shit. Jason took Jaymes to the car and they put Pinky (the blanket has a name, yes..) to "bed" in the trunk and headed back in. He was crying and begging for it in his sad little "break mommy's heart" voice. Over and over with the "teekity" which is how he says it's name. I understand the no blanket rule, it would be a safety hazard, could trip Jaymes or other kids and it makes sense. But maybe that should be listed on their rules... For a normal child, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but for an autistic one, knowing ahead could have given us a chance to prepare Jaymes and leave Pinky back at home and get his tantrum out before we got to the play place.

Luckily, other than some whining now and then, Jaymes was too busy going crazy tearing through the play areas to worry tooo much about Pinky. Unfortunately he went crazy enough running around to lose his wristband. Who knew it was such a big deal. I told one of the staff members, a very spoft spoken girl who seemed pretty nice. She asked me if i knew where it was, I said no, and then she started asking Jaymes where it was and lecturing him on why he needed to find it and keep it on. I politely mentioned that he is autistic, and doesn't undertstand what she's telling him to do, and that he doesn't talk much. She says "Oh, well he looks fine to me!" Ok, that's great, but it doesn't mean he's going to go lead you to where his wristband is. They finally do find it and give it back to me, so I thought I'd just shove it in my pocket for safekeeping because Jaymes would just lose it again. A few minutes later we get approached by a young man, who is kind of accusatory in demanding to know why Jaymes isn't wearing a band. I take out the band and show it to him, and he launches into this tirade of "He needs to be wearing that, you better have one and the numbers better match your bracelet or we won't let your child leave." My thoughts? Uh, I showed you the band. I paid the $8.50 for him to jump, and I have the reciept so please try and keep my child from leaving when we're done. I wouldn't have been bothered at his wanting to see the bands, but he didn't check the numbers and he was pretty rude. Not my fault the original person didn't put the band on tight enough!

The rest of the time I felt like we were really being scrutinized by the staff, but I ignored it and we had a blast jumping, climbing, bouncing, and sliding. Jaymes was a wild man, flubber going Boing Boing Boing off the walls. Sierra was getting tired, and so she wandered off to snuggle with Jason. Jaymes could have gone on another hour or so, but I was dead beat. I'm not in the best shape to begin with, plus injured, plus the asthma. My mom kept asking me if I was ok, being so red and puffing and sweaty. It was a lot of fun, and we'll go again for sure.

All in all, the place is one of those that autistic kids and "normal" kids are one and the same. They're all too busy jumping to notice each others differences, and Jaymes was too busy having fun to do anything that would label him as obviously autistic. I don't think the place is parent friendly at all, but then it's a place for kids and so I can live with that. I love that we can bounce with the kids, and I love that only the kids have to pay admission. $16.50 for a day of bouncing for all of us was well worth it.

Now for the video! They're LOUD, and bouncy, for obvious reason.

First off, we have a Si-Si on one of the smaller obstacle courses.

Next, Sierra on her favorite slide/bouncy. It was hard for her to climb up, and yes, that is my mother yelling "college girls gone wild!!!" Don't ask me!

Jaymes jumping through hoops for my approval.. Sorta!

Jaymes and I climbing up the ladder of death, about halfway up and still filming! How's that for dedication to you loyal readers?

Sierra and Jaymes bouncing together

I'm still sore, and it's Wednesday.


Bobbi said...

Sounds like everyone had a pretty nice time, aside from a few annoyances. We have a bouncy house playarea here at our mall. Both kids love it to death! They get all sweaty by the end but they are in heaven. It took Parker a while to want to climb up or slide down. He's even had to be rescued a few times. He has it down now and is a pro at it.

Amber DBTD said...

Yep, definitely a fun time... Hopefully we can do it again soon.