Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kids N Action

Today, I found myself in an indoor amusement park.

That alone would be bad enough. But my time in this neon hell coincided with the very window of time in which I was expected to review a considerable volume of work and provide meaningful feedback to my colleagues.

How, you might ask, did I get myself into this?

Guilt.

I am on vacation this week. However, we are in the throes of kitchen renovation, so rather than expanding my kids' experience by trekking through the rainforests of West Africa or visiting monasteries in Tibet, I have been dragging them around Home Depot, Lowes, and shady tile warehouses in the industrial nether regions of Brooklyn. This, coupled with the fact that there are projects at work that I cannot just walk away from, means that downtime with my kids has been somewhat challenged.

During this afternoon's home-improvement excursion, we passed Kids N Action, and my youngest asked, very nicely, if we might go in. Considering that I had recently plied them with a 2-pound cinnamon bun apiece to keep them quiet in Ikea, I should have known better. But I caved. 

Kids N Action, I discovered, is a glatt kosher version of Chuck E Cheese. There were play tunnels, a ball pit, go carts, and -- la pi├Ęce de no-parental-resistance -- an indoor roller coaster. A cacophonic whirl of sensory overstimulation, the place might aptly be renamed Parents N Purgatory.

There was not, unfortunately, a bar. 

I managed to find a seat in the cafe, and opened up my laptop. Before switching on, I glanced over to check on the boys, and realized that they were already on their fifth roller coaster ride, which considering the cinnamon buns they had recently put away, could only end badly. Feeling faintly guilty that I had unleashed my over-sugared kids on the other inhabitants of this brightly-colored plastic jungle, I dutifully ignored my gut, and started reviewing work. 

Two cups of bad coffee later, I eventually sent feedback, which may or may not have been meaningful. I had one of my heads coming on, and could not wait to get home and take 3 Excedrin (migraine-strength) with a glass of wine. I extracted my kids from the ball pit, with considerable difficulty.

"Mummy, this place is FANTASTIC!"
"Mmm-hmm."
"I mean, I can't believe we've never been here before!"
"Mmm-hmm."
"Do you like it mummy?"

Silence, as I wondered how to answer.

My youngest answered for me.

"I bet you do mummy, because you have fun when you see us having fun, right?"

There it is, in a nutshell. The reason places like Parents N Purgatory exist. We have fun when we see them having fun. No matter how miserable we are.

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