The rumour quickly went round that ours was the biggest on our street. I’m talking about Son2’s Christmas present: the hulking-great trampoline that appeared in our garden over the holidays, and takes up half the lawn. “It was on a special deal,” DH told me, as my eyebrows shot up into my hairline on seeing its enormous size for the first time.
No longer do I sit outside in the glorious weather admiring the bougainvillea hanging frothily over the back wall in a bloom of pink, white and orange. Now, I look at a piece of equipment, all metal, bounce mat and black netting, that could easily double as a zoo enclosure.
The kids LOVE IT, of course. And by kids, I mean all the children on our street. The knocks at the door start precisely three minutes after mine get home from school. I’m still turning smelly, inside-out socks the right way when the first rat-a-tat-tat comes. After that it’s a procession of small children, all eager to bounce.
Now, I don’t want to be a party pooper (and I do see the exercise value), but I’ll admit this came as a bit of a shock on my first day at home with the kids. Especially after a spell in a quiet, ordered office. I hadn’t realised our house had become as popular as Dubai’s Bounce, a trampoline playground loaded with springs and circus-grade sponge.
“But boys!” I said. “We’re just a backyard trampoline … There are some big differences between us and Bounce.” I held up one finger. “First, we don’t charge.” Another finger. “Second, I don’t hand out rainbow gripper socks.” I leaned forwards and raised a third finger. “And, most importantly, Bounce is properly supervised.”
“We need some rules here.”
My words dropped like rocks, leaving my boys with expressions carved from stone.
And so ‘The Rules’ came into force: a maximum of three children on the trampoline at any one time; keep the zipper closed; no crawling underneath it; only two friends inside the house and all mess tidied up by the perpetrators; no cats to be trapped inside the trampoline for entertainment purposes (“Yes really … cats don’t like bouncing.”)
As you can imagine, it’s not always easy policing all this, especially when all the yelling and squealing fills every molecule in your brain and the kids bounce so hard it even rattles the pans on the shelf in the kitchen. I swear it must be easier in a zoo.