Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bouncer safety

I take my wee daughter to playgroups as often as I can. First, it’s better socialization for her than simply hanging around boring ol’ Dad. Second, it’s easier for me to entertain her when there are toys and play-structures available that won’t fit in my house. And third, there is always the chance I might bump into an adult, giving me the opportunity for conversation above the toddler level. You see many types of parents at these things. Some sit, drink their coffee, read or text, and pay no real attention to their children (at least, I hope these people have brought children with them, otherwise it’s just creepy). Then there’s the other end of the spectrum; hovering parents who swoop in to catch their child on every stumble or trip. No owies allowed!

The YMCA hosts its playgroup in their gym, which is great. The kids have a ton of space in which to go nuts. Every week they also provide this really cool inflatable ship called “Mutiny on the Bouncer.”

This thing is a monster better than twelve metres long. It’s impressive. Kids get swallowed by this behemoth. It also comes with a strict warning label, telling you what behaviours are verboten. This label is insane. Check it out.

No rough play. No tumbling of flipping. No unevenly matched players. No glasses. No facial jewelry (good advice for life, I suppose, but it does beg the question of how many 5 year olds have lip studs). No jewelry at all. Some of this makes sense: no sharp objects and no shoes are sensible precautions (golf cleats are RIGHT OUT). But no glasses? Speaking as a glasses wearer, there is no way I’m going anywhere without my specs. Blind myself? How does that make for a safer play experience? Also, what determines what constitutes “unevenly matched players?” Based on strength, I guess, judging by the picture over that specific warning. So do we get them all to arm-wrestle first? Bench-press? Dead-lift? Cage match? What if Kid A can lift a hundred pounds but is a wheezing asthmatic? Is he then a match for Kid B, who lifts on 75 pounds but can do it for hours at a time? It seems to me only a bout of play on a bouncy ship would settle this dispute.

Then check out the maximum number of passengers. Four. FOUR?? As I said, this boat is twelve metres long. Pace that out. Four kids for that much space? Their bedrooms probably aren’t that big. Tons of kids don’t have YARDS that big.

My favourite, though, is the height and weight provisions. No one taller than 60 inches. No one bigger than 250, I assume, pounds. That is one helluva kid. Five feet tall, almost 18 stone. Can you imagine? If that’s you, you have bigger problems than being denied a ride on the Bouncer.

Thankfully, the rules are regularly broken on this thing (sorry, YMCA, not trying to get you in trouble with the Safety Police). Not naming names, but certain parents (me) let their 30 inch tall daughters go cavorting on the Mutiny with kids twice her height and five times her weight. Sometimes there are even FIVE kids on there at once.

Just as I do whenever I go looking for lawn darts to purchase, I wonder if we’re not being a little too over-protective of our young ones.

Stupid lawsuits. Ruined play for all of us here on the good ship North America.

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