June 3, 2016
Did you know that if you pass by a playground and close your eyes that the sound of 20 children playing sounds exactly the same as 20 children being mercilessly tortured? I know, it’s odd…maybe even a little creepy that this occurred to me but it’s become more relevant now that I have kids. That’s because every weekend my wife makes us take our kids to Giggles and Hugs.
This is a promotional photo that makes Giggles and Hugs seem like an idyllic play area for toddlers and parents to enjoy memorable moments of bonding through healthy and energetic play. But if you’ve ever been there, or any play area like it, especially on a weekend you’re probably aware what this place really is. It’s much more like the first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan when American soldiers, in gory and chaotic fashion, attempt to take the beach of Normandy from embedded Nazi forces cutting them down cruelly with machine gun fire. The only thing missing from this place a blaring horn indicating an air raid, but with the pandemonium of these kids yelling at if their limbs are being torn off, I may just not be hearing it.
(Welcome to Giggles and Hugs!)
The name of this place might be catchy but it’s far from accurate. Screaming and Scolding matches the atmosphere more closely. There’s not a child in this real world Thunderdome who is subtle enough to giggle in the midst of this bedlam. And the only hugs come from parents consoling the children upset that the “bubble party” didn’t last long enough or the other kid that cut in front of them for a turn on the ill advised zip line. I see a lot more scolding from parents with kids that have no concept of sharing or that standing on another kid’s head is going to erupt into a surprisingly volatile situation.
Of course from a parent’s perspective, this place should be called Fractures and Sprains. I’m an older parent, but very few adults are made to withstand the rigors of chasing their children over a treacherous obstacle course of curving slides, cargo nets and plastic jungle gyms like they’re Indiana Jones.
(“Arthur, please don’t go near the ball pit! Wait for Daddy!”)
I’ve been to Giggles and Hugs about nine or ten times so far and I have never left without a little limp, and I realize I’m lucky. It’s only a matter of time before I wind up like so many of the other Dads who’ve been blindsided by a four year old running at full speed into the back of their knees.
(Thanks, Getty Images! You’ve captured what I was going for perfectly!)
But injury isn’t the only concern at Giggles and Hugs. If you’re there you are not going to JUST be around thirty to forty kids aged 5 and under. You’re going to be in direct contact with them along with their coughs and runny noses. You might as well walk into the bio-hazard room from the movie Outbreak without a safety suit on and wind up like Kevin Spacey.
(“That was a lot of fun, Honey. I can’t wait until next weekend!)
If you want to take a legitimate sick day from work, just hang out by the ball pit for 15 minutes on Saturday and on Monday you’ll be calling in with a convincing sick voice. Want to take the whole week off? Say a quick payer to the Lord and jump into the vat of diseased blue balls head first.
(It’s fitting that if you look at a germ cell under a microscope it looks a lot like the ball pit itself)
Of course Giggles and Hugs does provide an environment where kids can learn to socialize with other kids which has value. Even more valuable is that it helps me learn how to socialize with other parents. I’ve found the best way to bond with other parents is to single out the worst kids, the ones pushing the other kids and screaming the most, and talk about the horrible job their parents are doing raising them. Nothing bonds like judging other people. I learned that as a child. I can also usually single out one kid who’s a little too old to be there, for myself and the other parents to critique. “That kid is too big to be here!” “At his age he shouldn’t be at Giggle and Hugs. He should be facing serious decisions about recreational drugs.”
(This kid should not be coming down the slide right after my kid)
The smartest thing they do at Giggles and Hugs is serve liquor. Nothing soothes the soul in the midst of this anarchy like a few beers. And nothing nurses an injury as well either.
(“One more shot of Jamesons and then we’ll hit the zip line!”)
I guess I have learned lessons at Giggles and Hugs, but like most things, they come at a cost. Unlike Thunderdome, it’s not two men enter, one man leaves. But 35 kids do enter along with my sanity. Only the kids leave.
Least Favorite Child Results
May 28 – Least Favorite is Arthur. Talk about a kid resting on his laurels. After coming out as the favorite in year one, he’s convinced he can do no wrong. He can. Regular intervals of annoying whining gets old quick. He’s not quite crying. He likes to take it right to the edge of crying and moan for a while.
May 29 – Least Favorite is Arthur. He can feed himself, but he’d prefer it if you brought the food directly to his mouth. His life goal is to be incapacitated. He’s going to identify with the male lead in the film ‘Me Before You.’
(Sure, I want to make out. You need to come to me, though)
May 30 – Least Favorite is Charles. Someday Charles’ brother will walk around as well as he does, and his reign of taking whatever toy or object he’s holding away from him will end.
May 31 – Least Favorite is Charles. You know how when you take away something a kid is holding, like a TV remote or a steak knife, they get upset. Charles starts out with a silent cry for 15-20 seconds that ramps up to hysterics.
June 1 – Least Favorite is Arthur. Arthur can’t speak but I believe his first sentence is likely to be, “Oh, are we leaving right this second? Let me crap in this brand new diaper while while you open the front door holding me, a stroller and a diaper bag.” And if that happens I’ll be annoyed AND impressed.
June 2 – Least Favorite is Arthur. Why reach for a pacifier in the middle of the night when you can scream and have a parent wake up, come into your room and move it one inch from where it is and into your cake hole.
Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles
Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two
Charles – 5
Arthur – 8
Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 299