Bouncy Castle by cartoonist Maeve O’Keeffe

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Bouncy castles aren’t just for First Communions!

With First Communions in full swing, it’s a busy time for bouncy castles.  And birthdays, too!  Have you special memories, dreadful disasters or funny stories to share? Post to my blog or email 

Daughter’s 13th birthday was approaching.  How to celebrate?  None of my suggestions measured up.  “Mum, I’ll be a teenager,” she pointed out, “It can’t be lame.”  “A bouncy castle?” I said flippantly, referring to the upcoming First Communion.  “Great idea!” she agreed.   Oh no, why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?  Eighteen pre-teens hopping around in the pouring rain could be a disaster.

I had visions of driving to A&E with cases of chipped teeth, broken bones or someone catching pneumonia.  Seeing my uncertainty, daughter leapt in.  “Don’t worry Mum, I’ll organise everything (you just pay the bill.) I’ll play CDs and put out sweets and drinks.  You can cook pizza and chips.  It’ll be great!”  I could see the budget ballooning as party hats and banners were nonchalantly added to the ‘must get’ list.

All hell broke loose when bigger brother overheard the festive plans.  “Why’s she getting a castle?  And HE’s getting one for Communion,” he griped, scowling at Junior, “I never had one.  It’s not fair!!” I placated the boy with the possibility of hiring one for his 10th birthday.  Maybe I’d get a good deal for three?

I watched the forecast all week.  Broken weather with showers expected – blast! “Tell everyone to bring warm clothes,” I warned.  The air-filled castle would be sitting on a slope.  Would it slide away or be blown onto the road, whipping a gaggle of screaming girls with it?  I forgot to check.

The man arrived early and staked it securely to the ground.  Junior refused to go to soccer.  The lure of bouncing bliss was too strong.  The girls came, armed with changes of clothes.  “How sensible,” I thought.  “They won’t need them though; it’s such a sunny evening.”  Some had bags of balloons.  Was this a new thing, to decorate the birthday girl’s house?  Or would they play with them in the bouncy castle?  Weren’t they a bit big for that?

“The girls are messing with the hose,” tattled Junior.  I investigated.  Sure enough, they were filling balloons attached to the nozzle.  “Er, Mum, can we have a water fight?” enquired daughter, “Everyone’s brought spare clothes.”  Their garb of shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops now made sense.  I reluctantly consented.  Suddenly every tap in the house was commandeered to prepare ammunition.

After blowing out birthday candles, the battle started.  Balloons were pelted, water guns fired and soon all ammo was depleted.  Dripping insurgents raided my cupboards.  Every container or empty mineral bottle was filled and contents were flung indiscriminately. Eventually a truce was declared.  The platoon of wet troops awaited towels for operation dry off.

It wasn’t sophisticated but they had fun. And it was nice to see them not grown up too fast.  “Best party ever! Thanks mum!” daughter commended.  Who knows, maybe the castle will appear again on her 18th!

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©Maeve O’Keeffe 2014