Why Parents Should Ground Bounce Housesby Jill Simonian
Can someone please tell me when kids' birthday parties became mandatory reason for parents to have a carnival in their backyard?
I'm not talking about celebrity parents (who are often privy to posh, sponsored events for media purposes)... I'm talking about average, every-day parents who don't seem to remember that birthday parties used to exist - and actually be fun - with just a bunch of kids, some simple activities, food, cake, gifts, parents drinking beer in the patio... and fine china (I'm kidding about that one... sort of).
Where did those parties go? I remember them happening when I was a kid (not too long ago) but now they seem to be extinct. Maybe it's just where I live in La-La-Land, but instead, parents now seem to be obsessed with bounce houses. And I hate bounce houses. Yes, HATE.
I'll rephrase: I like bounce houses in appropriate places - at fairs and carnivals. That's pretty much it. The first time I walked into a kids' birthday party and was informed that bounce houses are now a 'norm' for any and all parties celebrating the year-to-year existence of someone over the age of 2, I nearly threw up inside my mouth a little bit.
I then assertively wondered out loud (in earshot) whether or not having large, carnival-like attractions at every single kids birthday party will contribute to our kids becoming spoiled rotten and expecting certain luxuries everywhere they go during their childhood (which did get me in some hot water with the hosts of the party, but I digress).
I respect that many hard-working parents of means want to give their kids more than they had growing up, but is it too much to wish that some things just stay grounded?
Here's the logical reason why I hate bouncers: According to a new study, there's been a dramatic increase in bounce house injuries in the last few years (translating to one child injured every 46 minutes, nationally). This news makes me sad and infuriates me at the same time.
Geez, I (sarcastically) wonder why there are so many injuries? Could it be that our kids are pretty much bounce-housing every single weekend at birthday parties, instead of the few times per year that would otherwise happen if parents didn't go hog-wild with creating a circus in their backyards? More frequency equals more risk... equals more injury. Hate to say it, but it makes sense.
Now that I have the hate of all parents who have bounce houses on their property at every social gathering, I'll share the bigger, more important reason why I hate them: Consider our kids' social development. I mentioned our kids growing up spoiled... I mean it. I'm no psychologist, but I am a believer in common sense. I've gone to toddlers' parties packed with ponies, petting zoos, amusement park rides... and the kids don't even play together because us parents have to monitor our little ones on the rides and with the animals. Where does it end?
Trust me, I'm obsessed with "fun," but sometimes it's just too much. It's too much stimuli for the little ones to absorb and it's way too chaotic for us parents to keep up with. I feel like these larger-than-life attractions actually take away from the reason for the party: The Birthday. (yeah, remember that?)
Parties are situations where kids learn how to interact socially with each other. Let them run, play games and jump and RELATE with each other (on the ground) instead of throwing them into a blowup danger zone. And we wonder why our kids have trouble entertaining themselves and have short attention spans? Believe it or not, my babies' birthday parties are backyard bashes with tons of food, cake, decorations that don't require an event planner, grass to run on with some games for the older kids... and, as I've been told by guests, fun and relaxed. Not a bounce house in sight, and I intend to keep it that way.
Maybe I'm a boring mom. Maybe I'm the only mom in the world who believes in the value of keeping our kids safely grounded (literally and figuratively). Or maybe, I'm hoping, I'm not alone.
What do you think of bounce houses and over the top birthday bonanzas?