You know, the minimalists say the best gifts aren’t gifts, but experiences. I agree. Most of the time.
Let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, (to make a short story long) about 13 years ago, we bought a little fixer upper in rural Texas. It came complete with an old, rickety trampoline that our kids accessed by climbing up a precariously rusty old hillbilly pool ladder. The house also came with 10 years of lovely, picturesque garbage piled in the woods, a couple of horse skeletons and a makeshift fence made out of barbed wire wrapped around trees. I digress.
Little did I realize, that trampoline would become a Mommy-Lifeline. It occupied hours of my kids’ lives daily.
“It’s cold outside.”
“I have to poop.”
It was one of those things I never knew I always needed. We spent ten years of sweltering, summer nights and frigid, snowy mornings jumping on the trampoline.
I also discovered that taking pictures of puppies is deceptively difficult and that they will usually make cute faces and do adorable puppy-things on a trampoline while not being able to escape my camera shutter. It also became a puppy photo studio.
Then after 10 rotations of seasons, blood, sweat equity and tears invested, we sold our little piece of Americana and moved on because we needed a little more space than we originally planned for.
I don’t mean space to store our ceramic pig collection, heirloom thimbles and Looney Tunes glassware. I mean room to install our little collection of sardines who were stacked four to a room because they started showing up in matched pairs.
The question arose of whether or not to disassemble the trampoline and bring it along. I shrieked and gnashed my teeth. If the trampoline didn’t go, I wasn’t going either. I couldn’t live without that thing.
Begrudgingly, uncles and dads meticulously removed each rusty spring and carefully packed all the pieces into our maxi-van for relocation.
The only logical place to put it was in the back yard where the dogs and puppies roam. This became a problem for several reasons.
1. If you own dogs and children simultaneously, they will step in (or eat) each other’s poop. Needless to say, there was a little difficulty with doo doo being tracked around on the feets of all species in order to reach the trampoline.
2. One day, I went to the back yard to see who was screaming as if their arms were being slowly twisted from their shoulders to find about 5 dogs jumping on the trampoline. Yes. Jumping. The kids were playing Fight Club in a pile of crap while the dogs bounced on the trampoline with their eyes bright and their tongues flopping.
3. Then on another dark day, springs began to disappear from the trampoline. I yelled and told the kids to stop wrestling in poop and stealing my trampoline springs. They denied any involvement in either.
On another trip out to the dogoline, I noticed more springs missing and a little shred of trampoline material beginning to unravel around the edges. I tiptoed behind a bush to see if the trampoline-eating culprit was human or canine.
One of our incredibly deviant Puggle puppies ran, catapulted onto the trampoline, scarfed in a mouthful of trampoline material, then immediately relaunched himself over the edge, his makeshift trampoline-rope quickly stopping his ascent into the air and forcing him quickly to the ground with a loud thud. He sprung up, shook his little noggin’ and went back for round two. My dogs were eating my most favorite toy in the world!
I discovered a stash of springs in a hole next to the trampoline and tried desperately to reattach the severed limbs to no avail. I seriously considered trying to stitch the thing back together until I remembered I don’t sew. Also, there was only yarn and a knitting needle and I was pretty sure I couldn’t crochet the trampoline back together so that dream died before it was even fully born.
The trampoline sagged and sobbed and begged for its life. The kids could only jump on one side, about 5 feet wide, so they improvised and began using it as a slide instead. They’d jump on the 5 foot still-working section until they got good and high and then would launch dangerously into the gaping hole left in the wake of the deviant Puggle puppy’s swinging habit.
I, being the careful and safety-minded mother I am, had to put an end to it. I figured making them come bicker inside was better than having to drive everyone to the ER for a broken skull or coccyx. They wailed and blubbered, but the trampoline had to be put to rest.
Fast forward a couple months and I’m ready to let them juggle knives or sky-dive off the house if they’ll just be quiet while I have a private poop.
I generate the idea that we need to buy a trampoline for Christmas and put it in the front yard that’s now fenced and where no naughty dogs are allowed. We hem and haw and put it off.
Then Grammy and Grampy utter the glorious sonnet…
“We want to buy a new trampoline for the grandkids for Christmas.”
The angels sung and the bruised clouds parted. I would have my baby back. And my sanity.
A large box with a cacophony of metal poles and nets and springs found its way into the yard at 9pm on Christmas Eve. It was 20 degrees.
Grammy and Grampy suspiciously crept away after Christmas Eve lasagna mumbling something about how Santa might not come if they didn’t go to bed, stat.
I and my sister-in-law both coughed conspicuously and stretched and mentioned that we hadn’t showered in days and had a big day of child-wrangling ahead and needed to clip our toenails, so…
Dads and uncles begrudgingly suited up for Trampoline Construction 101 in the freezing weather on Christmas Eve.
If you’ve ever put a trampoline together, (or watched from your bedroom window) you know it takes at least ten men and is like sewing a suit made of human skin. It’s dang near impossible. There are like 7,000 pieces. The net literally had to be sewn to the frame with a careful whipstitch. (Luckily, my husband has the patience of Job)
Two and a half hours later, the shiny green and black contraption could likely be viewed from space. I rubbed my greedy-mommy hands together like a prairie dog with a piece of popcorn and drifted off to sleep with visions of gloriously occupied children and sugar plums dancing in my frazzled head.
Now. I know the biggest, most expensive gifts usually aren’t the most important or appreciated, but…the trampoline totally wins the Christmas prize this year, people.
Happiness and joy ✔
Occupies hours of the day✔
Allows me to poop alone ✔
All is well. The kids are happy. Mommy is joyful. The uncles and dads defrosted and forgave us for deserting them. (Which I figure is the least they could do on account of us women giving birth to their big-headed offspring and all.)
The puppies are still bouncing on their five foot section of excitement in the back yard.
The earth is back on its axis.