Ours is a surprising love story. Me, a wannabe sophisticate with a taste for minimalism and an aversion to somersaults. You, a garish red and yellow monstrosity powered by an always-on air blower.
And yet, here we are: an odd couple tethered together by a global pandemic and my off-the-walls children, who may or may not be turning more demonic with each day in quarantine.
It all started around day 20 of lockdown. The playgrounds were closed, the homeschool exhausting, the weather improving. And yet, my three- and five-year-old had no way to get out their energy. We let them ride scooters in front of the house, which worked for a few minutes…until somebody started walking towards us on the sidewalk and I had to scream my head off to get my kids to pull over. Have you ever slam tackled a preschooler on a balance bike? I have.
That’s when I saw your sweet bouncy self on my friend’s Instagram feed—buoyant, majestic and entertaining the hell out of a small child on Long Island. But I don’t have a Long Island outdoor space. I live in a modest row-house in Brooklyn, with a 500-square-foot backyard. Could you work your magic here? Did I dare?
I didn’t. But after catching wind that I was bounce-house-curious, my mother-in-law did. And bless her heart, because you arrived a week later, and we immediately snuck you down to the basement so the children wouldn’t find you.
The next morning, we set you up while the kids were eating breakfast, then offered up a tantalizing “maybe you guys should go see what’s in the backyard?” You already know this, of course. But you blew their friggin’ minds. Direct quotes included: “I wanted a bounce house for Christmas and I got one today!” and “This is my best day ever!” and “It’s just like Simone’s birthday party!”
But could you win me over? As it turns out, despite displacing my outdoor table and bumping up against my hydrangeas, you could! Here are some things I love about you: That you inflate and deflate in under two minutes. That you pack up small enough to fit in a storage bin. That even though you require an air blower to be on at all times, you aren’t oppressively loud. That you’re fun and you keep my children occupied for hours at a time, then tire them out so sufficiently that they go to bed without incident.
Bottom line: As life at home stretches out indefinitely, we’re all finding ways to work with what we’ve got and to make our insular, little worlds feel just a little more robust.
Thank you for that, dear Bounce House. Thank you for being uncomplicated and bright yellow and unabashedly fun. Who knows, if things go on much longer, maybe you’ll catch me attempting my first somersault in 25 years.