Monday, May 19, 2014

Isolation. The Stay at Home Dad's Best Friend!

I have been reading and hearing a lot about how hard being a stay at home parent is, and how tiring it is and how much of a "job" it is, and for the most part, I do, in fact, believe that being a stay at home parent is tough, but not for the common reasons cited by most at home parent bloggers.

For me, the roughest part of being a stay at home dad is the isolation.  

I am not sure if it is the same for stay at home moms, but for me being a stay at home dad is very lonely. There are all these groups that I am not welcome at simply because I am not a mom.

Sure, there are a few that claim to welcome dads too, but they hardly mean that.  

What they mean is that my kids can play with their kids, which is cool, that is what play groups are for, but the problem I have found is that I, being the only dad around, am suspicious and don't belong and my brats suffer the consequences because of it.

The last play group we attended was quite interesting, and exemplified this "you're welcome but not welcome at the same time mentality" perfectly.  

Let's see, it was almost two years ago

The brats and I showed up at the play ground, and I noticed straight away that all the parents, and by parents I mean moms, were off to the side and letting the kiddos run wild.  I thought that was pretty cool, and I didn't want to screw up what I thought was the "routine."

So, I told the Pizzmeister to have at it, and I toted Two-zy over to the parent "section."  The result of my approach and saying, "Hi! How is everybody?" was silence and then I noticed a wall of backs formed while I blinked or something.

Yes, it was that quick!

Now, I am terrible at reading social cues, but even I saw that as my cue to move on.

The only other face I saw was a breast feeding mom, so I went and sat next to her.

She was cool!  

We found we had a lot in common and had the same problems with our kids being screaming maniacs! We both had problems fitting in with the others at the local play groups, but kept trying because it was good for the kids.  

Why was she ostracized?

Well, she was Muslim, which mattered not at all to me, but for some reason does to a lot of people. I was just grateful for a friendly face, and it was super cool that our kids got along well, and played nicely together.  

You know, it's amazing how having someone to just sit next to can make you feel a little better about being somewhere where you feel like you don't belong.   

It made that week of play group meetings nicer, much nicer. Then she disappeared on me. I am not sure what happened.  She just stopped coming, so I was left sitting on a bench all to myself.

Well, needless to say, I quickly got bored and decided to play with the kids.  

I guess that was the wrong move.

Every time, my kids got close to another kid while I was playing with them, the other child was called away by his/her mom.  

At first I didn't notice, but then the Pizzmeister asked me why no kids would play with him, and then it hit me.  

By wanting to play with my kid because I was lonely, I was keeping other kids away, so I went back to sit on the empty bench. 

It didn't matter.  

The damage was done.  

The poor Pizzmeister was still left playing by himself, and, clearly, not having any fun, so we went home to watch "Bob The Builder" and eat popcorn.

We tried other play groups, all with the same result or eerily similar results, so, eventually, I gave up the play group idea and we just started going to the park whenever we could.

That had its own problems, like moms claiming that it was "weird" or awkward hanging out with a dad, but, on the whole had much better results for the kids, so it didn't bother me too much that I was still an outsider.

Then, a miracle happened.  We had a play date where the kids got along marvelously, and I was friends with the mom!  

Can I tell you how super stoked I was to not have to be an outsider anymore?!  

It was awesome!

I felt human again and had adult, human conversations with somebody.

BUT....It wouldn't last...

After a few weeks I learned that my friend's husband didn't particularly like that we were getting our kids together and having play dates. 

To tell you honestly, I was so stoked that another adult human, besides Mama Bear of course, was willing to be friends with me that the thought that she was female never even crossed my mind.

But, it crossed someone's mind...

So, now it's back to the lonely park bench.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's my Birthday! Here's How we celebrated it!

Before going any further please note that Jump Around Inflatables had no idea I was going to write about them, neither did I, for that matter, until after I had such a great time there!

On to the post.

You may or may not know this, but Central New York has many many secrets.  Some are big, fat, juicy secrets, and some...not so much.

Today, I am going to share one of the big, fat, juicy secrets  with you that I have only known about for around a week thanks to one of my really super cool friends.  

Why am I telling you all this secret?

Because I can, and it's my BIRTHDAY!!!!

And, it's something that I think everybody should know!  

What's the secret?

It's a little place called Jump Around Inflatables.

As the name implies, it's a bounce house, a wicked awesome bounce house, like no other!

What makes this place so different than any other bounce house I have been to?

A lot of things really.

Here, let me explain.

First, you know how bounce houses have little toddler sections with the little itty, bitty blow up slides and a tiny, little ball pit? 

Well, this place has an entire toddler room with a Thomas Train in it!

I am not kidding you!

There is an honest to goodness great, big, inflatable Thomas Train!

This photo does not do it justice. This thing is huge!

I know.  That's what she said!  Ha!

But really, this inflatable is wicked cool, and I had to really restrain myself from going in it!

And, I tell you what, I wasn't the only one!  

Besides the gigantor sized Thomas Train, the toddler room had a play area complete with a train table, castle, play kitchen set, those crazy balls with handles on them that kids bounce around on, a Sesame St fire engine, and the list goes on.  

It is easier if you just look at the photo really.

There was also a pool table in there and a pretty cool race car game that was a huge hit with Two-zy.

And, remember, this is just the toddler room!

The big kid room has even crazier stuff!

Of course the main attraction for us in there was the giant, carnival sized slide.  

I mean where else can you go down a slide of this magnitude inside?

It's crazy!

And, by the by, the very best part of this establishment, is that I got to play on everything too!

Don't believe me?

Here's a photo I took of the Pizzmeister climbing up to the top!

Man, let me tell you.  It was pretty high up there, and, somehow, just being up on top of this gigantic slide transformed me into a much much younger person.

I felt like a little dobber again, having the time of my life with my two best pals! 

I can't even think of a better way to celebrate my 33rd birthday!

Anyway, besides the obvious fun features Jump Around Inflatables has, there are also a couple of very thoughtful additions that really impressed me.

First, there is a small concession stand where you can buy very reasonably priced snacks during a break in the chaos.  

This is super sweet because all parents know that brats are like eating machines.  

They do it constantly!

I also really appreciated that there was seating and a couch for nursing mothers or tired old people, like me, to use in the play area.

And, very importantly, the bathrooms were super clean and even had wipes available by the changing table.  

I can't tell you how handy that is, and, if you have a diaper wearing kid, then you already know how nice that is anyway.

There are a number of other really cool things I could add, but rather than trying to remember everything, it might be better if you just visit the Jump Around Inflatable website and their Facebook page.

Let me just end here by saying, this place is super cool, and, unlike, a lot of other places that claim to be super family friendly, this place actually means it.

Here's a few more photos I took of our visit:

On top of the giant slide

Shhh...Daddy I think he is taking a nap!
Crazy Obstacle Course!

The obstacle course with bouncing balls and air hockey!

Boys tired after racing me through the obstacle course

Gladiator ring!

Inside gladiator ring.  super fun pushing the balls of death at each other