Rewind several weeks back to spring break, when we were spending a morning at the home of my friend Crazy Karin. Moms and kids had finished dyeing Easter eggs and were scattered in various places around the house, and I asked Crazy Karin if she knew where Mermaid was (I knew where Enthusio was: at the computer. He is obsessed with video games and will choose playing them above all else most of the time, even if he's in a girl house where most of the games available involve kitties or ponies or something). CK said "she's out there having a merry old time on the trampoline." And indeed she was. I had witnessed Mermaid on that trampoline many times with other kids, but it was the first time I'd ever seen her on it alone, and "bliss" does not adequately decide the expression on her face.
"I don't know why you guys don't have a trampoline," CK said.
"Neither do I," I replied.
And so, less than a week later, this suddenly glaring lack of a trampoline in our lives was rectified. I did some research online, chose a safe model, ordered it, and returned from a busy morning one Wednesday to find three enormous boxes'o'trampoline (and safety net) waiting for me on the front porch. Being me, I almost immediately set to work assembling the contraption, and about 7 hours later, I had this to show for my efforts:
And so our bouncy adventure began.
The kids are getting lots of exercise. That first evening, when they came in for dinner all red-faced and sweaty, I knew this was going to be a good development. It would be fair to say that our whole family struggles a bit with our weight, and what with all the media hoopla about how we are raising a generation of fat kids, etc., I am happy to add another activity that is actually, you know, active to their life.
Tons kids have passed through our backyard since the trampoline came into our lives. I really like having a yard full of happy kids. A week or two ago, I was coming back from a run and because of the open space next to our house, as I came up the street was was treated to the sight of 5 kids bouncing into view above our back fence -- how fun is that? Jumping on the trampoline is an activity that keeps Mermaid engaged with other kids a lot longer than a lot of other things, so that's great.
Several times we've had dinner with friends and then brought everyone back to the house so the kids could jump and the parents could just sit and hang out for a while. So the tramp has added a new dimension to our social life, and that's always a good thing.
This isn't completely a minus, because it only bothers me a bit and the kids not at all, but 2 or 3 kids on our street who previously had zero interest in playing with Mermaid and Enthusio are now knocking on the door to play with them just about every day. One of them is at least diplomatic enough to ask Mermaid to come out and do things other than jump on the trampoline once in a while, but generally they end up in our backyard. It's really not a huge deal, just a little irritating.
Enthusio seems to end having a lot of meltdowns when the tramp is full of kids, depending on his mental state, how tired he is, etc. When a group of kids gets together out there, they always seem to want to come up with games where if you do this or that or whatever, you're "out," and that situation is always rife with peril for Enthusio -- at this point in time, he absolutely cannot handle finding himself on the losing end of anything, and between his lack of confidence in his physical abilities and his current belief that EVERYTHING is unfair, it just turns into a mess over and over. Reasonable Man and I disagree on how to handle this: he says we should just ban those kinds of games for right now, and I can see the wisdom of that (it's our trampoline and Enthusio should be able to feel safe and happy when he plays on it), but I'm also wary of removing every obstacle from his path and communicating to him that a) we don't believe he can learn to handle things better and/or b) all he has to do is cry a few times and we will make sure he gets his way. I am constantly torn between wanting to let him have his emotions without making him feel he is wrong to feel the way he does, and wanting him to learn to control them already. As always, it's a tough one.