So, Genevieve officially turned 11 years old last Friday. I am not sure why 11 seems so old to me, maybe it is because I seem so old to me.
Every year we throw a fun, yet small scale birthday party at a location of Gen’s choosing. The deal is that we can go somewhere cool but she does not get to invite the universe, only a few select friends. This year, after months (yes, I mean months) of deliberation, Gen chose the SkyZone in Torrance as her location. After some research, crunching numbers, and assessing the best way to handle it, we decided to skip a formal birthday party and just invite friends to jump, so far so good.
So here is where I made my first mistake. The website shows that on Saturday nights, the SkyZone offers something called SkyJam which is where they play music while the kids jump, cool right? So we decided to start Gen’s party at 10pm, I really debated hard on this, I worried this would be too late but at the same time these girls are in 5th grade so it didn’t seem like it would a huge issue. Well, out of the 7 girls Gen invited, only 3 of the girls parents were comfortable with having their daughters out at 10pm. In hindsight: I should have listened to that tiny voice at that moment and rescheduled the party but stubbornness won and we soldiered on.
We arrived 25 minutes early, in order to beat the other parents and to get checked in. Upon entering the parking lot, I started to get a sinking feeling; trash and dirty SkyZone socks littered the parking lot. Then, we entered the threshold of the building and simultaneously Toby and I exchanged uncomfortable glances. The first thing to hit our sensory was the strong stench of feces, the whole building smelled like a daycare on a hot day. Following the stench was a sequel to the look of the parking lot, dirty tables, dirty socks, and a ton of trash; oh good, welcome to the party! I should point out that Gen did not seem to notice any of this and went off to jump before the arrival of her guests.
Our first guest arrived with her dad, a few minutes early and her dad verbally shared our concerns by stating “Wow, this place has really changed:. As his daughter went to excitedly meet up with Gen, us adults discussed our amazement and disgust at the appearance of the SkyZone. By the way, I should mention that we paid $19 a child for one hour of jump time.
The other guests arrived, all shortly before 10pm, the girls all met up and began to have a wonderful time inside the jump zones. So, us parents decided to find a table, with out trash (which didn’t exist). Then it dawned on us, SkyZone has a DJ, we found a table as far as we could away from the speakers and settled in. Of all of the patrons of SkyZone there was a true mix of ages; ranging from around 4 years old to maybe 18 and the music did not cater to any of them. The music can only be described as “club rap”, rap music with explicit(bleeped out) lyrics, geared at sexual innuendo and degrading women. I tried to ignore it, until a song with the chorus line chanting “Make it nasty” came blaring through the speakers. Make it NASTY? Seriously, this is family appropriate music?? I went to the DJ, expressing my concerns about these kind of lyrics in an atmosphere with young children. The reply I received from SkyZone management was that after 10pm, they cater to a 16 years and older crowd. Well, I will be the first to say that when my girls are 16, I will still be boycotting any lyrics suggesting them to “Make it nasty”.
What I have not mentioned is that Gen attends a Lutheran School and that 2 of her guests are classmates of hers, the other guest is her friend from a religious after school group. So, here we were with families that we know hold strong Christian values and we have forced them into an environment that was far from upholding family values. To me, this environment questioned my own family values and I can’t imagine how it made us look as a family. I did apologize to the families and I did make it clear that we were blind-sided by the environment. Luckily, the girls were having too much fun to notice the music or the atmosphere and 4 smiling exhausted tween girls left SkyZone Saturday night. I feel as though SkyZone should have a disclaimer on their website about SkyJam, letting parents know that it may not be suitable for children or anyone with strong morals and values. Besides SkyJam, SkyZone has the potential to be a fun family adventure that promotes exercise and a great bonding experience.
http://www.skyzone.com/torrance (See, the pictures make it look super cool and it really is).
So, mom learned her lesson, mom possibly committed social suicide, but she did give her baby a happy and memorable party. Next year will a little different.
Taking it one day at a time.