Daddy Days: Our trip to the bowling alley

·3 min read
I recently took the boys bowling for the first time. I hadn’t bowled in 15 years or so, so it was a rough round.
I recently took the boys bowling for the first time. I hadn’t bowled in 15 years or so, so it was a rough round.

I recently took the boys bowling for the first time. There’s something special about walking into the icy, air-conditioned interior of a bowling alley on a Texas summer day. I don’t know that the boys care about that, but they were instantly impressed with the crash of pins and the thundering roll of the balls when we got there.

I was impressed we were actually able to get on a bowling lane after all the trouble we had getting bowling shoes.

I took the older four boys and the youngest didn’t understand why he couldn’t wear his own shoes. Once we got past that little road block it was discovered that, despite multiple pleas that everyone check their shoe size, no one knew what size shoe they wore. Then suddenly they ALL declared the number they thought sounded right (numbers conspicuously similar to their ages), leaving the poor bowling shoe attendant looking as bewildered as a "Price is Right" contestant trying to listen to a cacophony of numbers shouted at them.

When we finally made it to our lane, bowling shoe shod, the boys instantly tried to break our collective 100 phalanges. A 6-pound bowling ball is heavy and unwieldy to a 6 year old and there was an “everyone freeze!” moment where all balls were placed back into the rack and we reviewed the rules.

Not dropping the ball and breaking your toes was number one. Not putting your hands in the ball return area and breaking a finger was number two. Then we got to the actual rules of bowling.

Thankfully, the basic concept of bowling is apparent as soon as kids see it done. There was a fascination with the foul line that I hadn’t anticipated. The buzzing sound that went off if you stepped on it seemed to imply a severe penalty to the boys and when the 7-year-old stepped on it he looked around as if he expected to be escorted from the premises or something.

We had one scare where I was sure one of the boys was about to lose his hold on the ball when winding up (I don’t know what else to call it, although I’m sure “winding up” is not part of bowling 101). No dad wants to be that guy at the alley whose kid bowls the wrong way down the lane. I’m happy to report the boy held on and I was not that guy. This time.

I hadn’t bowled in 15 years or so, so it was a rough round. We didn’t have bumper guards up for the younger boys so those gutters were probably hot to the touch from so much action by the time we were done.

Bowling alleys have grown a lot since I was last hanging out at one. This one not only had 20+ lanes and billiards and a bar and restaurant, It also had a laser tag arena and an enormous arcade.

The boys were excited about bowling and as you’d expect the gleaming wood lanes and automated pinsetters caught their attention. But the arcade downright dazzled their eyes. We didn’t do the arcade, and to protect the fun of what I think is the more interactive and worthwhile experience of bowling, we probably won’t. But what a dirty trick to put that stuff in a bowling alley.

The scores were dismal but we were “spared” any broken bones and everyone had a good time so I’ll rate the bowling trip a strike. Especially since I picked up several new dad joke bowling puns.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to

Caleb Harris
Caleb Harris

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Daddy Days: Our trip to the bowling alley