I have these reoccurring dreams every couple of weeks, where I’m in a house that doesn’t look like my house, but I know it’s my house, and in order to get to the bedrooms upstairs, I have to crawl through incredibly convoluted passageways and tunnels that get progressively smaller and tighter. It’s kind of fun in a spelunking, let’s-explore-the-house kind of way, but also unnerving in a claustrophobic, poking-at-the-latent-fear sort of way. I don’t know what it means, or what my subconscious is trying to tell me, but I found myself living the dream at Port Discovery this weekend while following two preschool boys through a three-story jungle gym.

The chick at the front desk says that they encourage adults to explore with the kids (which makes sense, because the jungle gym spits out in different places on multiple floors, making it difficult to keep tabs on one’s children) but I suspect the guy who designed the jungle gym didn’t get that memo. Once you’ve crawled your 35-year-old body into the bowels of the gym—and let’s not kid ourselves here, the gym is the first thing you see after entering, sort of like a three story child vacuum—the twists and turns get progressively smaller and tighter, to the point where you’re simultaneously trying to keep up with your child, twist your body upside-down, avoid kicking somebody else’s kid who’s crawling directly behind your ass, and hoist yourself up through a hole the size of a toilet seat. Not for the faint of heart or weak of spine. The capper is that once your child has made it up two stories of vertebra-twisting rope and maze, there’s a freaking slide which ends up back down on the main floor. Jen and I quickly made the decision to play a zone defense, with her stationed at the bottom of the slide with the camera, and me in the second story of the gym to make sure our charges didn’t veer off to other sections of the building. (This was after two attempts at wedgie suicide following the boys down the slide.) This strategy proved wise, and we used it for the rest of the afternoon in various patterns—so successful, in fact, Jen helped another kid find his parents (who were still using obsolete man-to-man coverage and trapped somewhere in the cattle chute on Floor 2.)

Don’t get me wrong—it was fun, and that place is a good way to kill the better part of a morning until an hour and a half after naptime; I’m just saying from a personal-injury standpoint, there are a few places in the Gaping Maw Of Ropes And Piping that could be optimized for us parental units (or, stand-in parental units, as in our case.) Also, because it’s right outside the front door, you will not be able to get past the McDonald’s without a Happy Meal before you leave. They’ve got you coming and going, I’m afraid.

On the whole, our experience as stand-ins went very well. So well, in fact, that we wore those kids down to tired, cranky, crying nubbins by Saturday evening [puffs out chest.] A walk to the park, Port Discovery, a nap, some kite-flying in the park, and a trip to Opie’s for ice cream made it an all-American weekend. Plus, the boys got a younger brother in the bargain.

Sunday we contented ourselves with quiet, peaceful outdoor activities; Jen hit the garden and I started rehabbing the windows on the south side of the house, followed by Easter dinner on the grill and some cold beers. I can’t remember the last time I slept more soundly. And, I didn’t have any dreams about climbing in confined spaces, which was good.

Date posted: April 17, 2006 | Filed under life | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to The Stand-Ins.

  1. ren says:

    “Wedgie suicide” nearly laughed me into “sore abs from too many crunches suicide.”

  2. the idiot says:

    Seriously, man, all the way up to my armpits. How did we do that as kids and not split ourselves in half?