Go ahead and jump

We were three months out from Christmas and as far as I was concerned, my recently acquired backyard was doing just fine without any structure needing to be placed upon it.

My wife didn’t agree. Apparently this open plain was an offence to her eyes. It also happened to be the weekend of a big sale down at one of the local trampoline places.

The city we have moved to is such a cultural pressure point that is has a trampoline district. No live music scene, modern art gallery or sense of fine dining but instead a whole industrial area dedicated to the craft of backyard bounce.

Down we went to the Trampoline Warehouse and an hour later we had purchased a 12 footer that could eventually double as an octagon for my pre-school MMA league. Later that week, five man-size boxes of flat pack tramp arrived in my shed. I quickly checked the contents to make sure they didn’t contain border-hopping New Zealanders, and then left them alone to await our Christmas Eve rendezvous.

For Australian fathers, there are several stages to to attaining a black belt in Dadness. The trampoline assemble is the grading exam for a blue belt. It traditionally is undertaken around a high pressure event such as a birthday or Christmas and usually in the dark of the night like a true ninja.

My test had come and I was ready. I also had my Dad and brother in my corner to assist. The tramp assemble is as much about team work as it is Dad skills, so this was going to be a three man job.

In typical flat pack furniture (covered in the white belt grading exam) style, the instructions were worth less than the paper they were printed on. I consulted YouTube and found an informative video by a professional trampoline assembler (also known as a person whose done time in prison) on how to quickly set the thing up.

Three hours later with all eyeballs firmly in their sockets and our blood pressure at semi-normal levels, we stood before a fully functioning trampoline.

The blue belt was mine.

Trampolines hold an iconic place in many childhoods. I never owned one, so I don’t think I ever appreciated their power. I always just associated them with bone fractures. Things have changed since I was a kid. They now come with safety nets, which does cut down on broken arms but increases cage-fight related injuries. Ours also came with a basketball ring, allowing me to pretend I’m Toni Kukoc in the privacy of my own backyard.

Our eldest is on it every night. His balance and coordination are now at the level of a young Russian gymnast, while his calves are as defined as Cadel Evans’ face. Thanks to the safety mesh fence, you can happily place him in there for hours and watch him burn off energy faster than a celery-munching spin class.

I sleep better knowing my kids will experience growing up in a trampoline-owning family.

Despite the joy derived from the tramp on Christmas day and all the days since, along with the peace of mind my wife has achieved by been able to throw our boy into a bounce induced coma, I feel sick when I look at it.

My once green 1/8 of an acre is now overtaken by a high tension tower of vinyl mats. Everytime I open the curtains, it’s looking at me. It reminds me that the torture of assembly is only matched by the pain of a pack down should we ever decide to move.

It also means we are now committed to being a trampoline family and we’ll always need to find homes that accommodate that. It’s like owning a pet that is inanimate, 12ft wide and has a 150kg load limit.

But if you are considering a trampoline, take the advice of Van Halen and Jump!