The Gauntlet: Conquering the Inflatable Revisted

If you are new to this  parenting gig let me share a little something with you: there will be a time when your entire weekend is spent attending other children’s birthday parties. Don’t fight it. Just go with it, friends. Currently we are knee deep in preschool classmates birthday parties, but I’m cool with it because I get pizza and cake too.

Being at a birthday party at the local bouncy house and watching my son run wild through the inflatables made me think of a time when I would be holding my breath and praying for the party to be over. Oh what a difference a year makes. So if you missed it the first time, let’s revisit…

The Gauntlet: Conquering the Inflatable

The blaring music hurts your ears and you have to scream to talk to the person next to you. The bright lights are flashing strobes that make you dizzy when you walk, and some girl is crying in the corner. No, this isn’t a scene from a trendy club on a Friday night; this is a four-year-old’s birthday party at a bouncy house, and if the ambiance isn’t enough to make you feel a little trippy, the effects from the party will.

Our first visit to this assault-on-your-senses-birthday-party-venue happened when I was über pregnant with my daughter and my wasn’t even two years old. I was ecstatic to sit for a few hours while my son bounced his little self into a birthday party induced coma. I was completly content watching my little guy scamper off into one inflatable contraption after another, but it was an ominous one called “The Gauntlet” that should’ve come with a warning

The Gauntlet was different from the rock walls or round bouncers he happily bounded across because once a kid climbed into a little tube, you couldn’t see them until they reemerged sliding down a huge incline.  Honestly, you would have better luck sending your kid into a crack house hoping they coming out with less baggage and trauma.

Once my boy disappeared into the tubes of The Gauntlet, I started talking to another party-goers dad. After a few minutes faint cries started to rise above LAMFO’s Party Rock Anthem.

Do you hear something?

 When the cries got louder, I realized it was my boy!! Because I was the size of a whale, climbing in and rescuing him wasn’t an option so I sent the dad I was chatting with to fish him out.

Emerging from the bright blue tubes was a terrified, tear-stained boy that simply wanted out of  bouncy house hell. Every corner was packed with more inflatables, too many kids, and ear thumping bass music made it impossible to find a quiet spot to just sit and chill for a few minutes. Party fail for my boy.

Every time we received a birthday invitation to that bouncy house, I sent up a silent prayer he wouldn’t remember getting stuck or would be big enough to conquer the Mount Everest of inflatables.


At the next few parties I kept a close eye on him and put up a mom sized roadblock in front of The Gauntlet. This plan worked until I had to wrangle two kids solo at a party and they both took off in different directions.

I chased after the little one because she was likely to start a pint-sized revolt and overtake the cake table. It was like déjà vu: the music and lights were so bright and loud, someone was probably sent into a seizure, and behind all the ruckus were faint, panicked cries. He was stuck in the dam Gauntlet again. Crap…

This time he knew to get out the way he entered, but the damage was done. I covered him in kisses and told him he was so brave and so smart for getting out when he was stuck. I even offered to join him in The Gauntlet so he knew he could make it through unscathed, but he wanted no parts of that solution or most of the party.

Two weeks later, his best buddy had his party at the same venue, and I was fully prepared to bring a pair of scissors. You know, in case The Gauntlet looked at me the wrong way.    The party was in full swing when he booked it over to The Gauntlet. I panicked, but this time something pretty awesome happened. He conquered The Gauntlet all on his own. His face when he came sliding down to the bottom: priceless. I imagine this is what a Heisman Trophy Winner’s mom feels like. OK, that’s a bit much (not really, it’s totally what they feel).  My pal caught this photo of my boy and I celebrating his success.


He ran through The Gauntlet so many times, he was exhausted and needed a break.  


Maybe getting stuck in an inflatable isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your kid, but when they overcome a fear, now that’s pretty rad.



  1. They have a few inflatable places around here where you can pay to play on 10 or 15 different inflatables for an entire day. Those places have inflatables much larger than the one you pictured and I have yet to see anyone get stuck in one :)

    • Well I am glad to hear that you’ve never seen a young kid get stuck because as a mom, having your two year old get stuck inside and see him so scared was awful for him and for me.

      • I always see kids get stuck. My oldest has a thing and actually loves to go help littler kids get through the rest or get back to their moms. I love that she gets it. My littlest has been stuck before. So scary. He’s SO proud in that pic- way to go, little gauntlet overcomer dude!

  2. My son had his head stuck between the bunk bed wood (top) and was hanging- I freaked out. Not fun at all!

  3. Aww there is nothing like overcoming a fear at any age even as adults we have fears however when you can help a child over come a fear their whole life changes before your eyes. Awesome post!

  4. oh my gosh, lol.. i felt as if i was reading a kids horror story.. Happy he was able to conquer his fear!

  5. Ah, I remember when my boys were afraid of jumpys, now they get bored of them right away! This one though looks pretty cool!

  6. Glad you can laugh about it now. I haven’t had to go in after, but definitely had a kid that didn’t want to go in

  7. I have never the Inflatable.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. My son is only 3 and is really hesitant of going into big bouncy houses. Sometimes he will try, and others he wont. I am happy he hasn’t been stuck though, how scary!

  9. My kids love these! We haven’t been in one in a while – but its seriously so much fun for them when they do. Can’t say they’ve gotten stuck as of yet, but none of them we’ve ever been in looked this wonderful and huge! My 3 yo probably wouldnt even attempt – I remember when my now almost 5 year old was so scared he would hide behind my leg while the older kids went in them!

  10. Oh my gosh I am glad he was ok! My kids have been on one of these things before and always do seem to get stuck at some point LOL

  11. This is why I hate these places – kids getting stuck! But glad to see he got over his fear!

  12. Oh I do despise the time spent sitting at those birthday parties – the noise, the crying the screaming..gah! My girls are old enough now that they are ‘drop off parties’ but my son is just getting into that stage. What I am afraid of with him is he will try to climb on the OUTSIDE of the inflatables and give me a heart attack!

  13. I am a bit of a helicopter mom so I hate places like that where I can’t get to my kids easily. Fortunately the few times my kids have been invited to bounce house birthday parties, we didn’t have any incidents.

  14. What a strong guy – thats so awesome of him! And a terrible name for a bounce house!

  15. I never got caught in an inflatable as a kid, but I DO remember getting lost in one of the many caves that a local park had. Welcome to Missouri, where even the playgrounds are likely to have caves, haha.

  16. My kiddos love those things and the 2 year old loves to follow behind her older sisters. She gets stuck all the time, but honestly, I think she likes the rescue the best!

  17. I want to take my kids to a place like this. They would wear themselves out, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

  18. That is a pretty serious inflatable! I can imagine many people, large and small, being apprehensive!

  19. One of those might give me pause… lol overcome it.

  20. These places get totally crazy. If we get to them when there aren’t many people there(somehow luck out), it wears them out. Love the pics!

  21. I think these inflatable thingies are so fun even in my 20’s :) Good for him for overcoming his fear!

  22. Inflatables are so awesome. My little guy had a fear of them when he was small…not so much now though. I love it when you said “just go with it” cause we get pizza and cake too…bhhahaha! The joy of motherhood, and birthday parties. :D

  23. The Gauntlet looks awesome! I had a bouncy house deflate with me in it at a carnival one time.

  24. lisa jones says:

    WOW Looks Like Crazy Fun For The Kids They Would Love It Thanks!

  25. Oh gosh, this sounds like something that would have happened to my kids! They had some horrible experiences at Chuck E Cheese.

  26. Haha, I so hear you on this! My son gets so excited and then freaks out. Yay for him overcoming his fear! Hopefully I’ll get there.

  27. One good thing about homeschooling is we don’t have parties every weekend like a lot of our friends! That looks like an awesome inflatable and glad he conquered his fear!

  28. Looks like a blast, my kids would really enjoy this!

  29. Overcoming a fear is pretty cool – getting stuck inside an inflatable is not! And yes, my kid would be that kid – and I probably would have freaked out and gotten stuck trying to go in and retrieve the kid. Now THAT would be a picture. All’s well that ends well.

  30. Good for him for conquering his fears. The Gauntlet looks rough, and I would put the big inflatable slide in a close second!! The only thing I hate more than bounce house parties are the skating rink, since I always envision headed straight to the ER.

  31. Ha, ha, ha… what a great time and kudos for overcoming fear. That is never easy to do. When we go to bounce houses, I have a harder time getting Hubby out than the kids, ha

  32. We’re just about to get our bounce on with lots and lots of birthday parties coming up! Getting stuck inside an inflatable would suck!

  33. Maria Oller says:

    Wow I’m glad it didn’t happen to me yet be cause I would go nuts, I’m tiny tiny bit overprotective and would end calling 911 if that happens

  34. There is nothing like this near us. i’d probably be a nervous wreck, but my son would likely never come out!

  35. Good for him for conquering his fear! My daughter loves these inflatables at a bouncy place near our house. Sometimes I get freaked out when she is bouncing away on them!

  36. Those could eat a child alive, I feel! They’re fun but man oh man, can you be tossed willy nilly in there.

  37. I know that bouncy house! I have had to rescue my daughter from the very same one!

  38. I’ve had to rescue my son a couple times. Not fun! My youngest is 6 months, so I know it’ll be worse when they’ll both be playing.

  39. That looks like a fun bounce house. Though, the getting stuck part, not so fun. Glad he made it through afterwards!

  40. What a brave little guy! Glad he was able to overcome his fears.

  41. We have them here in Katy in abundance. It is awesome that my kids are 17 and 12 and I don’t need to go to this stuff anymore

  42. That beast should come with a warning label or at least a label saying you must be this tall to bounce this inflatable! How awesome he conquered his fear and came out victorious :)

  43. My daughter attended a birthday party at an indoor bouncy house place. She loved it at first but then got trapped! Always keep an eye on your kids in these- sucks if you get stuck!

  44. Whether the kids get stuck and have to be rescued with the jaws of a sharp knife to pop that baby or not, it looks super fun! Ha!

  45. We love the inflatables! I get in and jump too until my 11 year old tells me I’m embarrassing them! :)

  46. We used to have a bounce house company – no one ever got stuck. But I have heard of that happening

  47. Amy Desrosiers says:

    Oh my gosh, my kids got stuck in one at Fantasy Land and I had to get them out! I felt like a big freak in there!

  48. Davey would love this…so would Isa! They love inflatable activity sets.

  49. My daughter is terrified of any bouncy house contraptions. Maybe she secretly knows about the possibility of getting stuck! :)

  50. I feel so awkward every time I have to crawl through those things to fetch my son. Guess we all go through it, huh?

  51. Sounds like he got exhausted and had fun! That is always a plus for me! You scared me a second with your sign and then after reading and realized what it was, made me feel so much better!

  52. There is one of these that we like to go. My kids love it.

  53. Um you are not anywhere close to the size of a whale. You look great. Glad he’s ok and you are too!

  54. YOur post made me laugh. My kids love that place however I have had to rescue my fair share as well. LOL I think this post is so true.

  55. I absolutely LOATHE inflatables.. but maybe it’s just me.. LOL My kids love them.. and they do tire them out.. just don’t ask mommy to go in..

  56. I would have been scared to be stuck in that as a child. But honestly, my kids would have a blast!

  57. Good for him! Some of those can get pretty intense…especially when they disappear and you can’t see them. Super fun, but only if you know how the heck to get out. Proud of him for you!

  58. Angela S says:

    Success! I’m so glad your little guy overcame his fear and had some fun too!

Speak Your Mind