Don’t all kids just love going on bouncy castles? No! Monkey is 5 and he’s always avoided the big blow up things that tempt all his friends. Even if he’s had the opportunity to have the whole space to himself, he’s declined. I’ve had so many strange looks from Mums, often friends, what do you mean, Monkey won’t go on them? Well it was time to try again. Monkey had been invited to a school friends birthday party, a Megabounce party. Monkey had no idea what that entailed but he wanted to go. I on the other hand knew exactly what it meant. Would peer pressure help him overcome a fear? Would Sunday be the day? Monkey hits the bouncy castle?
I told him that I thought there would be a bouncy castle in the badminton hall at our leisure centre. Where I go swimming Mummy? Yes in the same building. Lots of your friends will be there, you can have a runaround and then you’ll all have something to eat. It will be fun.
So Sunday afternoon arrived and Monkey was quite excited to see his friends. He took great pride in delivery his friends present and card, even though he would actually speak to him. He just gets so shy, even with children he sees 5 days a week! He watched as the bouncy castle was inflated. He saw his best friend G run to be one of the first to have some fun. Monkey sat down with me. Don’t you want to go with G Monkey? No Mummy.
So we sat together with a couple of the Mums, Monkey watching his friends having fun. Holding on to my arm. So I guessed we’d spend the rest of the party like this. A little double act. The birthday boy was really sweet and made a point of coming over to see Monkey, a quiet little boy, who wanted to help his friend have fun. But no, Monkey was not for moving.
At times like this I feel so sad for him, I can see the fun he could be having, right there in front of him. Fun with friends he knows well and sees every day at school. But he wasn’t sad, he wasn’t crying, he was just watching from afar.
After half and hour I suggested that we walk along the side of the bouncy castle so he could look inside and see what his friends were doing. Ok Mummy. So that’s what we did, and when we reached the other end, there was an inflatable platform. Monkey why don’t we sit on there together? We can watch everyone getting into that bouncy castle as they pass. We will just sit right on the edge. Ok Mummy. So we did. Monkey why don’t you take your shoes off, then you can look through the hole and see what your friends are doing. So he did. Blimey. Then he realised he could bouncy on the platform, having his own bit of quiet fun. Why don’t you go through the hole and join your friends? Eventually he did, not for long but he did. Then he was back out, back with me.
But before long he was leaving my side and running to see his friends. Monkey hits the bouncy castle for the first time! Wow 45 minutes and he was joining in, having fun. This was big news. He was having a lovely time. Part of the bouncy castle involved climbing quite a big wall and then coming down a big slide. I had zero expectations of him tackling either but after a while it became clear he wanted to try. Ok, shall I come in and try to help you up the wall bit? Yes please Mummy. This boy is not a climber. Monkey by name, but not be nature! So in I got, much to everyone’s amusement and explained to Monkey what he would need to do yo get to the summit. There was a helper perched on the top, I’ll help yo so far and then grab hold of the lady and she’ll get you up. He did try bless him. But it was a step too far, he turned to look at me and I could see he was going to get upset. Never mind, you’ve done brilliantly. I’ll help you down and then you can have fun on the bottom of the bouncy castle can’t you.
So that was what he did. It wasn’t long until the children were called to get their shoes on and head off for dinner. I was so proud of him, it was such a big achievement for him. Luckily all the other kids were lovely, no one laughed at him for not managing the climb. Monkey had climbed his own little Everest, he had had fun and when we got back in my car later, Mummy that was great fun! Oh Monkey, I know and I’m so happy that you’ve realised it too.
I’m sure we’ll probably have to go through the same process if he gets invited to another Megabounce party, maybe it will only take 15 minutes for him to leave my side. The fact that he’d left me in less than 2 hours without even thinking about the bouncy castle aspect, was a miracle in itself.
A big step so they so many other Mums take for granted. You see not all children are born loving bouncy castles. Now I’m left wondering if he might be really brave and try his friends trampoline this summer? We will see, one small step at a time.