Sunday, September 9, 2007

This indoor playground? I will never, ever go there again

Today was the first time Girl was invited to a birthday party and Boy got to tag along. It has always been the reverse. A lovely couple who have a little boy in Girl's class included her, which was so nice since Girl is new to the class. The party was at one of those indoor playgrounds.

I've always been a fan of indoor playgrounds. (Check out Amy's!) They offer a terrific alternative on hot days in summer and rainy days in winter. This one however, was akin to riding a rocket to hell or being stuck inside a pinball machine. The NOISE level was out of control and it was mobbed. And mobbed with bad mannered, aggressive children and tuned-out parents. Now, I am not including the parents of the party goers in this. I think we were all in a similar state of shock. One parent was overheard (well...overheard after 3 attempts) shouting, It's places like this that make you want to go to the library!

Usually these indoor facilities have just one private party at a time on the weekends. This particular one is open to the public. Which at first seems like a novel idea, but in actuality creates a new version of chaos. And you thought Chuck E. Cheese was loud?! Many, many children in one large space with noise levels on a scale that is off any chart I've ever experienced. And I'm not just talking about the children screaming. There was that. But, between the computerized keyboards that play a mash of hip-hop/clash (not to be confused with The Clash) and the frequent bursts of compressed air shooting out balls into the air, my children were at first clinging to my legs. Boy, who is noise sensitive, was able to play for periods of time, but would start crying and covering his ears about every 20 minutes. And he is someone who loves new experiences.

Inside the large center space are "guns" that can be loaded with small soft balls. When we arrived, two fathers were pounding each other and their children with volleys of loud shots. For children who enjoy climbing, it looks on the surface like a fabulous, creative crawling space. That's if you take away the noise and the people. The problem was that as you were climbing up with your children, bigger and older children were attempting and succeeding in passing you and I won't even say inadvertently stomping on your children. I had to actually yell at children who were strangers to me. I pulled out my Drill Sergeant Mom voice. When I told them to stop climbing over my children and they didn't, I finally managed to stop them in their tracks with You know, this is VERY BAD manners! That dazed them for a moment before they continued on in their destruction of other innocent children. I could go on for hours about this, but I already have and I won't here.

Since I fail profoundly at the art of few words, I will just say this to summarize. Beward of indoor playgrounds. Especially ones that are beyond OVER THE TOP! If it wasn't for our lovely hosts, we would have been out of there after the first 5 minutes. Enter at your own risk ... I will never, ever go there again.

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