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Kids in the Fall

May 13, 2008

Not quite sure what to make of this little news item. I mean, obviously it’s terrible for the boy and his parents – he’s been left quite badly brain damaged, which is a terrible tragedy, but… I dunno, when I were a lass, there was a generally consensus among us kids that, when using bouncy castles, you were more or less taking your life into your own hands. It was a given that, at any party that had a castle, there’d be at least one bloody nose, one sprained wrist or kicked stomach by the end of it.

In fact, if I remember correctly, there was usually a British Bulldog (the collective term for The Big Boys) of boys who seemed to be on some sort of quest to mow down as many of us littleuns as possible in the allotted time.

Yes, there’s the matter of supervision. But (and clearly my memories are cloudy) I don’t remember any kind of supervision when I was younger, other than the person who’d stand at the front ordering kids to take their shoes off. I suppose they have to make sure there aren’t too many kids on their at once, but IMO, the only safe number of kids on a bouncy castle is one (and even then, especially with my lack of balance and coordination) that doesn’t always guarantee a bruiseless body by the end of it.

When I was about seven, before my parents divorced, we lived in a lovely little village in Hertfordshire called Wheathampstead. It was in the middle of no where (or seemed to be anyway), and was your basic chocolate box English village (complete with allotments, rivers and cows). Our garden backed on to miles of countryside. It was ace. One time, we were exploring some building works that were going on in one of the fields and ended up having a massive mud fight with the Kids Off The Estate (one of whom it was said carried a knife!). It was real Us vs Them kind of stuff and in the end, someone on our side accidentally picked up what they thought was some dried mud and hurled it at said Knife Boy. Turned out it was actually a brick. Luckily he was fine, and ‘only’ got a hefty cut to the head, but did anything come of it? No. Because back then, parents understood that kids will do this sort of thing. Plus the next week, he got my brother back by giving him a real beating…

So what kind of precedent does it set? And what will this mean for kids’ parties? Eventually there’ll be no cake (for fear of vomiting, or food poisoning), no clown, no balloon magic… It’ll just be kids stuck in a dark room playing on a PS2.

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