previous entry :: next entry

edge case

Even though we woke up to a rainy morning I had big plans today for the children's entertainment. First we would go to the doctor for Elijah's one-month check up, where the older two could play with the train table. They love that train table for some reason. It features the exact same track pieces we have, but they're GLUED TO A TABLE.

After that wonder of wonders, my big plan was to take them to the The Edge.

The Edge is a sporting complex recently built down the street from us. The sprawling facility features not only a skating rink, personal training gym and indoor soccer field, but three raised astroturf fields that for half of the year stand enclosed in a pressurized bubble. We used to live on a quiet back-country road, but since The Edge moved in we live off a dangerous thoroughfare trafficked by hockey-moms in SUVS. Turn the corner to find a bulbous architectural monstrosity that can probably be seen from space. The bubble needs giant fans running constantly to keep it inflated, and giant heaters to keep it warm. The light pollution from nighttime games blocks our view of the stars. All put together, The Edge is an environmental abomination.

But two mornings a week, when the bubble stands empty of more worthy pursuits, one dude who works there throws out some balls and inflates a bouncy house. They call it "toddler play time" and charge $5 per child for an hour and a half.

It's basically an excuse for them to print money against the cost of their constant-running fans.

Am I going heavy on the righteous indignation here? Because I don't want you to miss the important thing: THERE IS A BOUNCY HOUSE! Twice a week, every week all winter, there was an open bouncy house two-minutes away from our door. And so in the winter when it was cold and rainy and the kids desperately needed exercise, I often swallowed my hippy pride and ponied up $10 to let my kids bounce their little butts off.

blurry happiness

I'd rather they get exercise outside. I'd rather they get exercise FOR FREE. I'd rather they get exercise without breathing in the combined fumes of a plastic trampoline sitting on plastic grass enclosed inside a GIANT PLASTIC BUBBLE. On the other hand, they're less annoying when they jump. You could say that I'm conflicted.

So we headed to the bouncy house this rainy morning. Elijah was asleep following his doctor visit. Harvey and Zion were eating their snack in the back of the van. Both were drinking milk, and Zion was probably thinking about a book he had read recently because he said suddenly:

"God can't bless the milk when it's INSIDE my belly!"

I'm in the milk and the milk's in me? God bless the milk and God bless me? I don't think so, says Zion.

Harvey, seeing theology as another area where he can correct his younger brother, chimed right in. "But God is inside of US TOO."

"What do you think?" I butted in, unable to allow a discussion to flourish without my leadership. "Do you think God is everywhere, Zion?"

"Yes!" yelled both of them, as if we were having Sunday school. Then baffling me with his ability to extend an idea, Harvey added: "And God is in the bubble!"

Well that stopped me dead in my little homeschooling tracks.

I mean, I was thinking more along the lines of: God's in the forest, God's in our homes. God is inside of every believer. When I implied that God was everywhere, I wasn't actually referring to EVERYWHERE everywhere, including the big plastic source of my parenting guilt.

"Well, God is in us," I explained not wanting to give in, "so God will be in the bubble when we go inside."

"And the first place God goes inside the bubble is right into the bouncy house. Because that's the first place I GO."

Touche, Harvey.

We pulled into the parking lot and got out of the van. The man who usually takes our money was nowhere in sight, however. Instead we saw a crew of landscapers milling about outside.

"Is there no toddler playtime today?" I asked the man in the truck.

"No programs today," he answered, "We're taking this bubble down."

And cue Harvey screaming.


Oh no, I blubbered, I had no idea. Would you like to go to the library? The playground? Go back in the car and drive to another indoor playground? ("NOOOOOOOOO!")

While Harvey was bawling, Zion spotted an adjacent astroturf field that he wanted to run on. Here, I offered both of them in a state of panic, why don't we run on this field while we decide what to do next.

By this time it had just stopped raining and it was warm enough to be outside. We walked over to the uncovered plastic turf and I was surprised by how DRY it was. While real grass would have been awfully muddy under these conditions, the astroturf field had such incredible man-made drainage that my kids were able to run on it undeterred. And run. And run. And run for an hour without getting wet.

It turns out that even in a plastic field surrounded by ugly buildings, there are a many fun things to do. There were lacrosse balls to throw over the fence and and soccer nets to use as a secret house. We walked all the way around the edge of the field, observing the sort of detritus that accumulates after a lacrosse game. A lot of mouth guards, apparently. Like A LOT of mouth guards. I guess on a plastic field plastic mouth guards are almost compostable!

Despite the initial non-bouncing disappointment, the boys had a wonderful time on our outing. Indeed, the only difficulty was getting them to leave.

Is there a moral to this story?

I'm probably too quick to draw deep philosophical meaning from the mundane aspects of my children's lives. Sometimes an outing goes well and sometimes it doesn't. Certainly it would be a stretch to say that divine intervention saved my morning. And yet, and yet... As their joy and resilience reached beyond my expectations, it did feel strangely like God was in the bubble. Or at least present in its coming down.


Beautiful reflections- love it.

comments closed for this entry

previous entry :: next entry