I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
January 23, 2020
There are many things I’m sure I’ll miss when my children are grown. I’ll miss their laughter and noise and chatter. Their companionship, their hugs and hand squeezes.
There are also a few things I won’t miss — I won’t miss driving the kids to school and doctor’s appointments and practices, and friends’ houses. Or stepping on Lego landmines. And I definitely won’t miss indoor trampoline parks.
If you’ve never been to a trampoline park, consider yourself #blessed. Usually located inside a strip mall or industrial office park, they are massive spaces containing wall-to-wall trampolines, foam pits, slides, swings, mats, ropes, rubber balls, and — this is the kicker — about eleventy-million screaming children.
Particularly if you have a son, the indoor trampoline park is 100% unavoidable. It is Birthday Party/Field Trip Central, and once your kid goes, chances are good he’ll beg to go back as often as you’ll take him. My son’s school has been great about ferrying the kids to the trampoline park a couple of times a year (because everyone knows educational field trips SUCK) so that I don’t have to, but yesterday, my ticket came up. Bruiser was invited to a birthday party at a place called DEFY. What is DEFY, you ask? Well in the interest of research (because I am a blournalist), I looked up DEFY’s website. Oh, reader, the description of this place was RICH:
DEFY is an attitude and a rallying cry promoting individualism and freedom from the norm. It’s a collection of extreme air sport parks across America that are rewriting the rules of sport — giving our communities a place where they’re free to express and push themselves.
We’re for fiercely independent, fearless individuals who pass on organized sports in favor of nonconforming ones that challenge them in non-traditional ways.
Someone put a lot of work into these sentences, but I still think they could use a tiny bit of editing.
DEFY is an
attitude and a rallying cry promoting individualism and freedom from the norm. It’s a collection of extreme air sport parks across America that are rewriting the rules of sport — giving our communities a place where they’re free to express and push themselves.INDOOR TRAMPOLINE PARK.
fiercely independent, fearless individuals who pass on organized sports in favor of nonconforming ones that challenge them in non-traditional ways.KIDS.
This ‘rallying cry’ was followed by a bunch of professionally-shot videos featuring extremely athletic, attractive men and women enjoying DEFY’s various attractions. They did flying triple toe flips off the stunt wall. Full-Fulls (yes I’m watching Cheer just like the rest of you) into foam pits. One-armed handstands and quadruple twist half-doozles and tucked roundabout star formations across the ceilings. It was amazing to watch, but it was also totally fake news, as it turns out, because when I took my son to the birthday party, I saw exactly zero athletic gods and goddesses hurling their gorgeous bodies through the air. What I did see, OF COURSE, was kids. Lots and lots of kids. So many kids, in fact that the place looked a whole lot like THIS:
Not. Even. Kidding. Kids were hanging from the ceilings, bouncing off the walls, crawling across the floors, Filling. My. Airspace. And the smell! It was an eye-watering combination of sweat, stinky feet, gym mats, and farts. The combination of a school holiday and freezing temperatures had created a perfect storm of squirming, squealing kidmanity — and I was so not there for it. As soon as I spotted the birthday boy’s mother, I pushed my son toward her, muttered a halfhearted “Have fun,” covered my nose and mouth with my scarf, and fled.
Two hours later, I returned and texted my son from the parking lot, letting him know I was waiting in my car just outside the front door. No response. I waited five minutes and texted again. No response. This was not good. This was very, very not good. I was going to have to go in and find him.
Entering the building, I noted that the hordes of shrieking children seemed to have increased exponentially in the time I’d been gone. A quick visual sweep of the lobby area revealed that my son was nowhere to be found. Taking a deep breath (and immediately regretting it), I approached the swirling cesspool of children, hurled my body toward it, and let their momentum carry me up a ramp that led to the activity area. Picture one of those news clips of a frightened cow struggling to stay afloat in swirling, debris-filled floodwaters. That cow, my friend, was me.
Borne on an ocean of offspring, I scanned the foam pit to my left. At least 200 children were flailing about inside it. I looked to the right, where 500 more kids were jumping on a trampoline floor and throwing balls at each other. All around me, dozens more children sailed back and forth on fabric swings. I believe children were even hanging like bats from the ceiling, although by that point I may have been hallucinating; things were definitely getting hazy. I realized I wasn’t going to make it if I continued on any farther. I would simply be swallowed up by these huddled masses, never to breathe free again.
Summoning every ounce of strength I still possessed, I turned against the tyke tide and fought my way back to shore. It was touch and go for a moment, but eventually, the swarm spat me back out into the lobby. And that’s where I stood, forlorn and in desperate need of hand sanitizer. I imagined myself as the tragic heroine in a crowded London train station during World War II, separated from her child in the chaos, wondering if she’d ever see him again. At that moment, it seemed entirely possible that this could happen to me. My son would finally track me down twenty-five years later, and during our tearful reunion, he’d tell me he’d been adopted and raised by a family of Irish step dancers who’d found him dirty and feral in DEFY’s family bathroom, having subsisted on trash can pizza for three weeks.
“I missed you, Mom, I really did,” he’d tell me. “But without the O’Shaughnessys, I never would have been an understudy in Riverdance’s 50th anniversary tour.”
My eyes filled with tears at the thought. I sure would miss the kid and his willingness to laugh at every single bad joke I’d ever made. And then I got a text from the birthday boy’s mom.
We’re coming down to the lobby now, it read.
A few moments later, my son appeared, sweaty and happy. Crisis averted. I hugged him extra hard and he squirmed away. “Mom,” he whispered. “LATER. PLEASE.”
As we headed out to the car, we chatted about the party and what he’d done while he was there. I felt satisfied he was still in good working order, but I did have one lingering question.
“Have you ever secretly wished you could learn… Irish step dancing?”
“What?!” he said.
“I mean, is it something you’ve sort of always wanted to do? Because I never want to hold you back from your passions.”
“No way,” he laughed. “Where’d you get that from?”
“Nowhere,” I told him. “I was just wondering.”
And with that, we got in the car and headed home.