It sounded like the circus had come to town! The level of noise, echoing around my neighborhood, was constant and loud and filled with young children laughing, shouting, screaming and a few brief sobs and hiccups. My neighbor, a sweet and loving grandmother, had rented a “bounce house” for her children’s children for the afternoon.  

The clouds threatened rain and indeed it did sprinkle on and off throughout the day. This didn’t bother the kids at all. Required to take off their shoes to enter the bounce house, they ran through the wet grass in their socks not even noticing how brown and soaked the socks had become. There was no point asking them to put their shoes back on as they were just going in and out of the bounce house too fast and often.  

Their mothers and older siblings were careful monitors of behavior. I marveled that the little pairs of shoes all lined up neatly next to the bounce house entrance. There were hula hoops and bean toss games for them, as well as sidewalk chalk, to add diversions from the frenetic pace of jumping up and down for long minutes at a time. Nothing is funnier than a baby about 18 months old, trying to figure out what to do with a hula hoop! Big plastic baseball bats and oversized baseballs were tossed back and forth, and not a few grownup shins were hit by mistake.  

At first I was a bit peeved that my peaceful afternoon was being overwhelmed by the noise of all these children. After a while, I realized the neighborhood hadn’t heard so much laughter and pure joy on such a large scale in years – since the elementary school up at the corner was closed – and it really was quite nice. I was a little sorry, I guess, when the last minivan pulled away from the curb filled with weary little ones and their exhausted parents. The bounce house was dismantled and taken away in less time than it takes to mow the lawn, and truthfully, it all seemed as though nothing at all had happened here.  

Maybe my neighbor can be persuaded to do this every year?