Sunday, September 11, 2005

#76 - Why We Have Bouncers

Hacienda Woody has bouncers. This does not mean that if you arrive at the Hacienda on any given Saturday night you might expect to find lines of hangers-on and wannabes waiting for a chance to enter our exclusive night club. No, this means that on any given day or night, if you entered Hacienda Woody you would run the risk of being bowled over by one of my bouncing Woodyettes.

We have a big yellow ball. It's meant, of course, to be a playground ball, but the nearest playground is a bit of hike. Consequently, the ball sees way more indoor action than I would otherwise care for. Size-wise it's about the height of any given dining table chair. Unless you sit on it. It squishes down a considerable amount, so that if you attempt to sit at the table (which, you may have guessed, the Woodyettes do), your chin rests comfortably on your lunch.

Jelly Woodyette discovered this phenomenon. She is, by nature, a bouncy child. I have long suspected that she is, in fact, part Tigger; she has never successfully sat in any given seat for longer than, say, five minutes without jumping up as if her derriere were ablaze. This makes for interesting meals at the table, and even more interesting (read: frustrating) sessions in school. Mom and Dad spend inordinate amounts of time asking her to please park her fanny and [insert desired activity here].

Then she discovered that by applying her considerable bouncing talent to the big yellow ball, she could propel herself to virtually any region of the house. It is a wonder to see how she bounces, and at the apex of her bounce, manages to push the ball forward with one hand (in a sort of cowboy, haunch-slapping kind of motion), thus achieving locomotion.

That's when Mommy had the brainstorm.

Being a teacher both by inclination as well as by training, Mrs. Woody figured that rather than see the ball-bouncing as a threat to our inhouse law and order, she would instead use it to her advantage. I happened to stay home the other day to work (ah, the Virtual Age!), and witnessed my Jelly Woodyette bouncing, literally, at the table when she was supposed to be doing her schoolwork. I actually said something about her needing to get into her chair (traditionalist!) when Mrs. Woody stopped me. Relax, she said. This is actually helping. Sure enough, rather than jumping up out of her seat every five minutes and needing to be called back to the table, Jelly could bounce to her heart's content and still manage to get her work done. Some of her drawings might get a little shaky, but she tends to stop bouncing whenever she's focused on such a task anyway.

I was impressed.

So, now, instead of seeing the ball as another threat to my sense of order, the Bouncing Woodyettes have the run of the house. Doodle doesn't do it as frequently as Jelly does, but there are a couple of reasons for this. She's not as inclined to bounce as constantly as is her sister. She has a greater capacity for sitting in one place for greater lengths of time, so bouncing is not a need for her; it's a diversion. On the other hand, Jelly has declared the ball her vehicle of choice, and getting it away from her long enough to indulge in a fun bounce is a hit-or-miss proposition.

I'm not saying that Jelly does nothing but bounce, by any means. She's still a world-class reader, and one does not read while bouncing on a big yellow ball. Indeed, this is the same child that gets car-sick if she reads too much on the road. No, reading demands sitting in one place for as long as it takes to get her fill. I often marvel how this hyperkinetic child can drape herself, cat like, on any piece of floor or furniture and read for a solid two hours at a stretch. My entire immediate family has this ability, although at my age, "draping" myself on any piece of furniture generally means sitting in the most comfortable chair I can find. When I was Jelly's age, though, I could read upside down if the mood struck me. And it frequently did.

So, should you ever visit Hacienda Woody and see a sign warning you about our bouncers, just understand that I'm really more concerned for your safety than my own. I'm pretty sure my insurance will cover being run over by a small child on a big yellow ball.

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