Gretchen had a particularly stressful day today with the boys, so when I got home from work we decided to go out to dinner. It’s always good to get the boys out of the house and let them expend some energy, plus we had a coupon for a free entree at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Both the boys were very well behaved and we had a great dinner together. We talked about the details of a trip we’re planning to take to Washington DC this summer, and Sammy got particularly into the discussion about which animals might be at the National Zoo.

After dinner we had planned to go to the park but it was cold and a little rainy so we went to the new Chick-fil-a that just opened up and took advantage of their shiny new “Fun-zone”. (On a side note, is it wrong to take your kids to play at a place like that and not buy anything? Gretchen and I couldn’t agree)

We had been to several fun-zone/playland type of places before with Sammy, but this was the first time he was really big enough to explore by himself. At first he hovered around the little funhouse mirrors and steering wheels they have on the ground floor for little kids, but after a few minutes he took off up the stairs to the maze of bright plastic tubes above us. There were a few other kids up there with him and he was having a great time. He crawled around and peeked out the windows at us and yelled” Dada! Mama!” every few seconds, and I would tap on the plastic and he would laugh. It was really sweet.

He was probably up there for almost ten minutes before we realized that he couldn’t get back down. A couple big kids were going up and down the slide continually so he couldn’t get down that way, and there was another little kid frozen at the top of the stairs, so he was trapped. We could see the silhouette of his little hands and knees as he was crawling from one end of the tubes to the other looking for a way out. It was heartbreaking really. He was all alone and scared in a weird place with scary kids and we couldn’t get to him.

I tried to get his attention through the window and coax him out the right way but he wasn’t understanding my instruction. I was about to bite the bullet and climb up there myself when Gretchen suggested that she go up instead. That was probably a wise move considering that the fun-zone was only certified for children three and under and I weigh the same as approximately 10 three year olds. Having me get stuck in one of those tubes and bring the whole thing down on top of a dozen unsuspecting children might have caused a scene.

So Mommy went to the rescue. She climbed up the twisting stairs (very gracefully) and removed the deer-in-headlights kid who was blocking the exit. Then she stuck her head in the entrance to the maze and showed Sammy which way to go. Eli and I were very impressed as we watched from the too-fat/too-little-to-help section.

When they got back down Sammy was smiling and seemingly un-traumatized. Aside from a couple tear streaks on his cheeks you would never have guessed his little life had just passed before his eyes. He played around on the ground floor for a few minutes after that (keeping a safe distance from the stairs) and then we decided it was time to go home.

All things considered the fun-zone is a pretty good thing for everyone involved (although I pity the poor employee who has to crawl up in there with a bucket when some kid pukes at the end of one of those tubes). The only thing I might add is a big red button that parents can push that will turn the whole thing on it’s side and shake it until the kids all fall out.