Lessons in engineering

This morning we woke up, called in some reinforcements in the form of another 15 yo boy, and headed down the street to dismantle and move the trampoline. Now, I don't know about you, but at no point did I think, "Hey, that should be easy." No, right from the start I had visions of a fiasco of major proportions. My children did not share my pessimism and thought we would easily undo everything and carry it down to our house and set it back up. Before we began, I'm firmly convinced they thought they would be jumping by lunchtime.

It took us a little while to figure out even how to begin. For a brief moment, it seemed as though just unattaching the poles holding the netting would suffice and we could lift and roll-up the net and be done with that part. But sadly, no, this wasn't going to work. Instead, the bulk of our time was spent using allen wrenches to slowly, slowly, oh so slowly, work apart each and every knot of webbing that held the net to the actual trampoline. Now, this trampoline has been set-up for years, in weather of all sorts, and those webbing knots were tight. Really tight. Tight as in, it took me 45 minutes with a pokey piece of metal to work it loose. (I have blisters on my thumb to prove it, too.)

Various children started to wonder out loud if it was worth it. How much did they really want a trampoline? Why didn't we just buy one instead? And economics lesson followed, as did a brief lesson in thankfulness, both for the trampoline and for the weather. If you can believe it, it was right around 60 degrees this morning as we were working on our little project. That would be 60 degrees in the middle of December in Chicago. P. was in shorts and even I had on just a sweatshirt without a jacket. I'm not sure we could have worked those knots loose if the temperature had been below freezing. I just don't think our fingers could have taken it.

Finally, the last knot was undone and P. and our borrowed 15yo rolled up the netting and poles and hauled it all down the alley to our back yard. That left us with the trampoline itself. At this point none of us really relished the idea of unattaching the springs and dismantling the frame, so we decided to try the ultimate lazy man's load. We thought we could upend the thing and roll it out of the yard, through the gate, and into the alley like a giant wheel.

We did manage to upend it. Do you know that trampolines, when in their horizontal and correct position, don't look terribly large, but when you put one up on its side, it looks rather enormous? The center of gravity on a thing that big is also fairly high. It is certainly higher than any of us could hold. So picture me and four children all trying to hold up the upended trampoline, while both trying to roll it forward and not let it fall to either side either crushing a person or crushing the garage we were right next to. We measured our movement in inches as we moved it along. At one point, a child says, "This actually seems pretty dangerous," which mirrored my own thoughts at the time. But since we were already in the middle of it, it didn't seem any safer to move it back to try something different. It was probably hilarious to watch.

Eventually we made it out of the gate and into the alley and lowered it back to the ground with great relief. Our alley was just big enough to be able to carry it flat and our back gate has a very large double gate which allowed us to walk right in. Currently, it is in pieces in our back yard. After wrestling with the thing for most of the morning, all enthusiasm for reassembly had been lost. The weather now seems to be turning a bit, so there is a chance it could actually be spring before we set it back up. At which point, all of us will have forgotten how everything fit together. I'm hoping for a warmer weekend so this doesn't happen.

As we were taking it apart, the family who is moving would occasionally bring out another item or two that we might like. So now we have another CD/radio player (always welcome) and outdoor stand lights so that the children can jump all night if they want to. Once we get it set up again, of course.


I'm giggling because we're on our 3rd or 4th trampoline now, and I can totally picture this scenario.

I think it would be fun to get one of those play parachutes to drape over the net on the trampoline, but dh just growled a bit when I suggested it.

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