The Kind Of Parent You’ve Got To Be Sometimes

I took the kids to Rockin’ Jump after camp yesterday. Rockin’ Jump, for those of you who aren’t parents or don’t live in the suburbs, is a massive trampoline park populated by oh god, so many small people, the vast majority of whom are physically launching themselves through the air at at any given moment. For safety’s sake, there are also lots of uniformed attendants who will yell at them (and you) if they do anything wrong, and the list of “things you can do wrong in the trampoline park” includes “everything that children want to do a trampoline park.”

I know. It sounds super fun.

Except my kids (obviously) love it, and so when they said they wanted to go, I was sort of surprised that camp hadn’t tired them out…but I thought, what the hell. Because it’s summer, and in the summer you can do things like take spur-of-the-moment trips to trampoline parks, and also because I have a little secret about Rockin’ Jump:

I call them the Dad Chairs.

I call them that because it’s mostly dads who you see sitting in them with their heads flung back, literally snoring. (How do men manage to fall into deep REM whenever they take their children to a place that involves chairs, irrespective of the presence of neon lights and cacophony? ‘Tis a mystery for the ages.)

Dad Chairs are really just massive massage chairs – the ones you see in Brookstone or wherever – but somehow BETTER. I do not exaggerate when I say that the chairs plopped in the middle of the San Jose Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park are among my favorite places to be on the planet. They sort of trap your legs into two rounded chambers and rub them to bits, and there’s this rolling thing that massages your inner butt cheeks (yes, inner, and yes, this feels suuuuuper awkward given that you’re, you know, in public, but it’s so good that you get over that real quick). And best of all: these particular chairs are capable of getting at this one excruciating spot on my upper back in a way that no massager – human or otherwise – has ever been able to access.

They are heaven. And they cost like ten bucks. For AN HOUR.

So we went to the park. I jumped around with the kids in the main area for awhile (and only got yelled at twice!). Then we climbed the rock wall – and did mom hit the button at the top? You better believe she did. Next we stood on this sort of plank contraption surrounded by foam pits, and battled each other using massive body pillows (I lost). At this point I was fully out of breath and sweaty and such, and I said, hey, guys, mom would like to sit down for a minute while you keep playing, ok?

And it was okay! For exactly one minute, as promised. And then it wasn’t.

My daughter (who, as it turned out, was indeed exhausted from camp), having become aware of the fact that her mother was doing something enjoyable that did not involve her, immediately melted into a puddle. Which is a sort of embarrassing thing to have happen when you’re trapped in a vibrating chair. And then my son decided that he wanted to sit in the massage chair, except kids aren’t allowed to, and so he expressed his displeasure about this rule by planting himself on the floor behind my chair and pouting (at the exact moment the butt massage began, naturally). Again, please recall that I was virtually cemented in place via leg-traps. Not embarrassing at all.

So I (very reluctantly, and with considerable effort and accompanying grunting sounds) extracted myself from the chair, got everyone happy-ish and bouncing again, and returned only to find a child the size of The Rock sitting in my (pre-paid) spot (so much for kids not being allowed to use the chairs). I mean, good for him, though – because really, if a ten-year-old doesn’t deserve a massage break, I don’t know who does.

I watched my son catapult off walls. I mourned the piracy of my chair. And even though I was right there, bouncing alongside her, my tired, tired four-year-old continued melting down, over and over. Did she want to leave, though? NO. She did not WANT to leave! (This part was expressed loudly.) My son didn’t want to leave, either. And I had just paid fifty dollars for them to bounce on things, and was a little grumpy about the idea of calling the whole thing off.

So I waited for Rocky to decide he’d worked out enough knots and split, and then I sat back down on the chair, plopped my daughter on my lap, and turned on that classic cinematic feat, The Emoji Movie. In summary: I was the parent who took her child to a trampoline park, and then let her sit in front of a screen so that I could be rubbed by pleather.

And you know what I think about that?

Sometimes that is the kind of parent you’ve got to be.

I sat there, leaning forward, watching the movie with her for a minute (you know, so I wouldn’t look totally peaced-out) – and then I remembered: The Emoji Movie is truly, epically terrible. And the chair does an excellent neck massage, too.

And so I flung back my head, and – for just a minute – me and the Dads: we snored.

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