Have you ever been to a Kinder Gym themed party? They're mostly held in gymnasiums in the rainier colder months and contain all sorts of fun things like Tarzan ropes, huge Olympic-sized trampolines, rolling mats, rings and - best of all by far - the Pits of Foam.
Pits of Foam, are, well, pits in the ground filled up with foam I guess. One Kinder Gym near us has a 10 feet deep pit in the floor, roughly two adult trampolines long that is entirely filled with foam and sponge squares. It can entered in one of two ways - by running along like a lunatic until you go "Sprooiiiiinnnnngggg!" off the mini tramp into the pit; or by flinging yourself in free-style at the other end.
Me, I prefer free-style so that I don't smother any little kid who inadvertently gets in my way. You see that's the joy of these Kinder Gym places: parents are allowed to play too. I defy any grown-up to say that they still feel stressed, angry, anxious or nervous after hurling their bodies about during their child's Kinder Gym party.
Admittedly, it does take a bit of bravery to do it. When the other Mums are clad in their Yummy Mummy designer duds and you turn up in your tracksuit pants and a sportsbra, you are already saying loud and clear that you're up for a bit of immature action......
I thought it was best to start slowly on something that's not attention grabbing, like a short go on the tarzan ropes. Feeling every single muscle under each of my arms snap away from the tendons like guy ropes on a tent is a subtle reminder that I'm no longer as supple as I was in those halcyon playground days of the 70s.
Still, I'm out there now, and there's no going back to the pursed lip crowd of the watching Yummy Mummies. It's over to the big trampoline. And what a flattering sporting device this is! Unlike my child's trampoline that has "NO-ONE OVER 90KG ALLOWED" stamped all over it - and my husband reminding you that my cuddly 68kg would translate to far more than 90kg when the physics of gravity and increased pressure caused by jumping are factored in - this trampoline is bloody HUGE. Three Laurie Oakes' could jump on this and only be in danger of snagging one of their toenails in the netting. It's like swimming through air and boy, don't the children look small from up here? The only negative is that the last time I jumped on a trampoline (circa 1979) I didn't have breasts. Now they're threating to burst out from their underwire and spandex and blacken both eyes. Of the kid on the trampoline next to me.
Sadly, it's time to get off and let someone under the age of 40 have a turn and allow my now-throbbing hooters a chance to stop bouncing. Also because the Yummy Mummies are yelling at me to "Get the hell off and the kids a go!" All righty then, it's time for the PIT OF FOAM! In a lengthy run-up second only in athletic grace to that of a high-jumper, I go for the freestyle end. A triple pike, double lutz, back crackin', side splittin' dive later, my face is wedged up against the side and my back is being used as a landing pad for three foolhardy six year olds. Why is it that kids don't think that adults feel pain? I'd like to be able to voice that question out aloud, but by now my face has slid down the wall and I'm breathing in the crumbly bits of foam that gather at the bottom.
As for my bottom, it's sticking out of the foamy flotsam like a resurfacing whale and through the foamy spongey crumble-haze I am vaguely aware of another little midget landing on it after their leap off the mini trampoline end. Channelling Dory from 'Finding Nemo', I find myself singing 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming......' as I ineffectually flop around to flip myself upright. Five minutes later, my panicked red face bursts triumphantly through the surface of the foam cubes.
Each attempt to clamber out of the pit itself seems to result in sinking further to the bottom in an increasing cycle of exhaustion and foam crumb inhalation. Somehow I have success after hoiking my right leg up and out of the pit and dragging the rest of me behind. It would have looked rather dignified and deft if I hadn't have accidentally strained a hammie and popped off a stinker at the same time. Luckily, no-one heard or noticed my efforts except for a three year old sibling, who stared at me, stared at the booger on her finger and stared at me some more.
It is now that I curse wearing baggy trakkie daks with a generously elasticated waistband. A supervisory father kindly offers to grab my arms to haul me out. My arms and my torso are now being heaved safely out of the satanic pit, but my tracksuit pants have stuck to the god-awful cubes like obsessive velcro. As I slowly emerge, it is with increasing horror that I feel my daks slowly pulling themselves down.
Do I yell out "STOP! Let me drop! You go on ahead and leave me here" to the helpful father or be more grateful to escape than ashamed at showing off my arse to a packed gymnasium?
Like a footy player caught with his shorts pulled down during a running tackle, I have no choice. It's the arse and then freedom. It is with an increasingly mature attitude that I realise the truth - I've got to keep going, finish the task and then pull up my pants with confidence. Pity about the Yummy Mummy choking on her takeaway latte though.