There are a lot of posts and memes going around right now about how much we Gen Xers are showing quarantine/social distancing who’s boss. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety member of the older generation, it’s true. In our day we had to play with pet rocks for chrissakes!
Sometimes it feels like the kids of today have it all.
And by all, I mean things like devices that cost hundreds of dollars and provide endless hours of fun and excitement. When I was a kid, it was mind-boggling to have, like, Atari. (We never had Atari.) Even a game as low-budget as a Wonderful Waterful was pretty entertaining. (And honestly, I don’t know if we actually had one of those either.)
Back in the heyday of the 80s, when you went over to a friend’s house, you played outside in the backyard. Completely unsupervised of course. My brother and his friend used to light GI Joes on fire using cans of Lysol spray to incinerate them.
But I digress. Back to the backyards. Many people had a swing-set. Usually one of those ordinary aluminum ones that threatened to come out of the ground if you got the swings going too fast. Others had fancier ones with monkey bars and slides.
If there was no play structure, then you just picked dandelions or did cartwheels in the grass or something. We really, really did have to make our own fun. Okay, sometimes there was a sprinkler to run through as well.
Occasionally though, you’d go to someone’s house and – wait for it – they would be in possession of the most fun, the most dangerous piece of backyard apparatus that existed. The trampoline.
It was such a rarity that I only remember jumping on one a few times in my childhood. Maybe I was just running with the wrong crowd. Naturally, there were no safety nets or padding on the springs. Without doubt, those things were the cause of any number of cranial injuries or broken limbs.
Somewhere along the line though, someone got smart about trampoline design. Now, you will basically never see one without netting around it. And you will see a lot of trampolines because everyone seems to have one. Not having one is also okay, because you can just go to a trampoline park, another amazing thing that didn’t exist in the 80s.
Last year, our lack of outdoor fun became a bone of contention between the husband and I. I decided I wanted to buy a trampoline for our very small, urban backyard. I’d put aside some money and wanted to spring for (groan, I know) a compact, quite expensive trampoline. Fun and safety together. My husband was more inclined to allow our children to play with rocks or dandelions.
My kids were not going to have the kind of deprived childhood I had. Although I knew it would pretty much fill the backyard, I did it. I bought it, it was delivered, and my husband put it together with only a modicum of complaint. (He deserves kudos for assembling it for us despite the weather, which if memory serves was a very sleety kind of rain.)
He thought that they would lose interest in it after a couple of weeks. But a year later, those dire predictions have yet to come true.
The trampoline is, along with ice cream, keeping everyone sane right now.
“Go outside and jump on the trampoline for a few minutes,” is a phrase the kids have been hearing a lot of over the last few weeks.
What’s keeping you sane?