The bouncy tent is “kinda young,” said James Lileks’ almost eight-year-old daughter, Gnat at the ice cream social celebrating the first full day of summer vacation. She did agree to ride the teeter-totter.
Itâ€™s a modern lawyerfied cruelty-free teeter-totter; itâ€™s impossible to put someone up in the air and leap off so they get that tailbone-in-the-uvula sensation. Naturally, she tried to defeat the safety features and ride it as hard as possible. Thatâ€™s what kids do. We used to think they should experience a taste of the world as it really is, full of sharp corners and bullies who leap off the totter-plate when youâ€™re hanging high, but itâ€™s possible thatâ€™s not the way the world will be. The world will be not be any more fair or kind or safe, but there will be innumerable committees and boards to process the grievances that arise from contact with things like Human Nature, and Gravity. Iâ€™m doing her a disservice by teaching her how to compensate for my butt-whapping counter-bounce, and retaliate. I should be teaching her how to suppress her enjoyment, dismount, tell me to stop it, then appeal to a higher authority.
But since I feed her hot dogs, for heavenâ€™s sake, I suppose it goes without saying I am an appalling parent.
Pizza, hot dogs, root beer, cotton candy. A dunk tank. The first night on the first full day of summer vacation. Happier children youâ€™ve never seen.
I remember when my daughter discovered the existence of the corn dog. Bliss.
Update: Summer is anxiety time for protective parents, writes Eve Pearlman in the San Jose Mercury News.