Watch Out for That Little Girl

Little girl peering over bounce house wall

Unaltered image. Elaine Ashton, Flickr. CC License.

I’m the proud father of two great girls. One is seven, the other closing in on four (wow, four already, that’s for another blog). Like most everyone in Michigan, we just went through another harsh winter and to say we had cabin fever when it finally clicked into March would be an understatement. So we needed to find a place where these kids could burn some extra energy, and quick!

After a bit of research my wife found a Groupon for a place that had indoor bounce houses—a lot of bounce houses. Perfect! When we got there, this place was like toddler Vegas, with inflated bouncers as far as the eye could see. Green, red, yellow, blue, it’s was truly sensory overload. Our girls went from piece to piece without one foot touching unsupported, air-filled ground.

They were in nirvana. They timed themselves through an obstacle course, climbed what seemed like two stories just to have a .6-second ride on a slide. They played soccer, shot baskets and just let it all hang loose. It was great seeing them smile that smile when they seem truly happy.

We arrived when it wasn’t too crowded, so it wasn’t uncommon to have our almost 4-year-old have a 20×20 bounce house to herself. She’d bounce from corner to corner, try sliding after jumps, and learning that it might not be that much fun to slide on vinyl after bounding high in the sky.

As the place filled up with the after-dinner rush, each bouncer got a little busier, but more the merrier because you can bounce more when there are more kids bouncing.

As we headed over to the 20×20 bouncer, our little one had company of two boys who weren’t much more than seven. Even before the boys could step one foot beyond the hole they crawled in, their Mom was yelling, “Watch out for that little girl!” I counted no more than 12 times that she said it in about six minutes.

I know she was trying to protect my youngest. But the way the mom was saying it made me feel, and I think my daughter a bit, that she was frail and couldn’t handle herself. We try and raise our girls to be strong, independent people (a little much sometimes … again, for another blog) who hopefully will be able to handle themselves in most situations. And our youngest didn’t disappoint.

She kept bouncing and bouncing until she did a bit of a cannonball-type jump that made both boys fall, and then she slid out and went on to the obstacle course where I think she might’ve put in her personal best time from end-to-end.

In a completely puffed-out-chested, proud Dad way, it made me proud that she wasn’t phased at the mom’s words. It might’ve been coincidental, but I saw the look on her face after she did it. I know, sadly, that my daughters will have a bigger battle than a bounce-house bully as they will have to fight wage inequality, glass ceilings, and other asinine hurdles that are completely man-made, but I also know that they won’t hesitate to bounce people on their bottoms when the time is right.

With saying all of that, I guess I have to agree with that overprotective stranger. Watch out for that little girl; she might rule the world someday.

– Jim Pesta, Parenting Program participant and father of two girls

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