Mr D and I have decided to buy a trampoline for our boys for Christmas. They need somewhere to expend all that excess energy which seems to exude from the Y chromosome.
We had a bright yellow rectangular trampoline in our backyard when I was a kid. If you bounced in the middle you were fine. If you bounced off to the side you landed on springs and got hurt. So you avoided bouncing off to the side.
If you crawled under it and tried to stand, long hair got trapped in the springs and wrenched out. If you crawled under it and your brother decided to bounce on top of you, you got hurt. So you stopped crawling under it.
Long story short, we learned about consequences: do something dumb, get hurt, don’t do it again.
Before I started scouting for a 2014 version of my childhood vision, I had a vague idea that trampolines now have safety features. Most of them seem to have big net things to stop the kids falling out. I knew there was a whole company which was called ‘springfree’ so presumably they had figured out how to do away with the nasty hair catching thingys altogether.
Sounded pretty good. Why not eliminate a bit of risk where you can?
Then I hopped on the internet for some proper research. Man, trampolines have gone high-tech in the last 25 years or so.
They have flexible composite mat rods instead of springs; hidden frames, shock absorbent mats and flexible net rods which, apparently, grown children can hurl themselves at and not fall off.
The sales chatter tells me that because of all this wonderful technology the kiddies won’t break bones, slash themselves, pinch their sensitive skin or end up paralysed.
I tentatively typed ‘trampoline injuries’ into Google.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says trampolines shouldn’t be used at home at all.
Some rules reported by The Guardian newspaper include:
- kids under 6 shouldn’t be allowed on trampolines over 10ft wide or 20in high
- only one person at a time
- no somersaults or flipping (to prevent spinal cord injuries)
- don’t put the trampoline on hard surfaces or near trees or fences
- only bounce in the middle of the trampoline
- don’t jump off the trampoline
- don’t crawl under the trampoline
- actively supervise the kids at all times.
I try to picture my boys’ first encounter with the trampoline. They’re currently 2 and 4 years old. Knowing them as I do, I suspect it would go something like this…
Initially disappointed at the absence of presents, Mr D and I suggest to the boys that we all rush out to the backyard on Christmas morning.
‘Trampoline!’ exclaims Son #1.
”mam’line!’ repeats Son #2.
Both boys run down the stairs of the back deck. Son #2 gets knocked over, falls down the stairs and ends up crying in the rush.
Big bro arrives at the trampoline first and clambers inside before either parent has a chance to accompany him.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
Son #2 recovers from his fall. Realises big bro is on the trampoline and he is not. Has to be restrained from clambering in with big bro (only one child at a time).
‘Ha’ turn! Ha’ turn!’ he wails, being old enough to understand the concept of having a turn, but not waiting for one.
A time limit is set for Son #1’s bouncing session.
Son #2 continues to wail.
Son #1 is informed that he must relinquish the bouncy-bounce.
Son #1 commences wailing. He is forcibly removed by a parent.
Son #2 is gleefully inserted into net.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
Overbounces, lands on wrist. Starts screaming.
Son #1 still wailing at the injustice of it all, tries to hide under the trampoline.
Parent gets onto trampoline to retrieve injured little bro. Loses balances, bounces on head of Son #1, under the trampoline.
Family trip to the ER for 4-year-old with concussion and 2-year-old with possible broken-or-at-least-badly-sprained wrist.
**** Merry Freaking Christmas ****
Ignorance really is bliss.
Sorry boys, you’re getting books for Christmas. And maybe one of those really soft, fuzzy squishy balls to throw around a little. But don’t run or you might fall over. And don’t throw it at each other or you might get hurt.
Better yet, just sit in a corner wrapped in bubble wrap and watch the television.
What do you think? Do we take safety too far? Am I just being paranoid and overprotective? Did you have a trampoline as a kid?