Looking out the bedroom window, I see the neighbourhood kids playing in the cul-de-sac of our dead end street. There were five of them who ranged in age between eleven or twelve to about five or six. It was almost midday and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before they started their short march up our driveway to our backyard. So I headed off to the kitchen to make a cuppa before that happened.
Fifteen minutes later, and as expected, they march up the driveway all somewhat subdued in comparison to their earlier boisterousness in the street. I hear a quite knock on the backdoor and make my way around from the kitchen to answer. Upon opening the door, they politely ask if they can play on the trampoline and I nod my head indicating that it’s ok. I watch as they march themselves down the short flight of stairs off of the deck and towards their target. I grab my cuppa and head out onto the deck and settle myself on the seat to watch.
A trampoline has been the mainstay of many a backyard in New Zealand. I recall all the pieces of this puzzle being delivered and I also recall the exercise involved in putting it all together. It was a family event and there was a barbeque afterwards. It’s both a nightmare and a joy all in one package and unlike a good horror flick, this is real life.
Watching these kids, I’d remind them to do their jumping in the middle of the tramp. Even with the bright blue cushions placed over all the springs, it was all too easy for an unfortunate incident and, in this case, they weren’t even my kids and I had no particular desire of being confronted by some unhappy parent.
Over the many years we had this contraption that some would describe as a death trap, I’ve watched our girls gain confidence jumping up and down on it and even performing a few summersaults. It has stood its ground through rain, hail, snow and scorching heat. It is the one toy that seems to stand up to all the punishment thrown at it and easily outlasts a Barbie.
As the girls got older, the trampoline became less of a jumping implement and more of a place to congregate and chat. It was a draw card especially when there was a gathering for a barbeque or a party or when their friends dropped by.
Although the neighbourhood kids would also change as some families moved out of the street and others moved in, they seemed to always gravitate in the direction of our backyard as if they had some sixth sense as to the existence of some hidden treasure. Not that I minded at all.
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