Until last Sunday, I’d never really jumped on a trampoline.
And what a tragic statement. I’m a classic over-thinker, a worrier — someone often too weighed down with “what ifs” to let myself go. One of my biggest challenges is simply living in the moment and taking risks . . . real risks, ones that could end well or poorly. It’s so against my nature. Every action is fraught with meaning; every decision must be evaluated. I don’t take spur-of-the-minute trips. I’m not spontaneous. I would never randomly decide to dye my hair or impulsively make a big purchase. I’m careful, calculated. Even romantic break-ups have, in the past, required a list of pros and cons.
I’m Meg, and I rarely let my hair down.
But that’s where kids come in.
Before my cousin David and his lovely wife Betsy started their family, we didn’t have many little ones in our crew. On my mom’s side, my 15-year-old cousin is the closest we have to a kiddo — and she can’t be called one any longer. The under-10 set on my dad’s side is larger, but I don’t live close enough to see many of my extended relatives more than once or twice a year.
Enter the boys.
My four cousins, all under the age of 5, are an enthusiastic breath of fresh air. My parents, sister and I enjoy every moment spent with them — because they’re so darn fun. I’d forgotten what it was like to have kids around, begging you to play checkers or color or throw a ball, and I have to say: I love it. It makes me so excited to be an aunt and a parent. I know I see the good parts and not the complicated ones, but even those seem to be handled with grace and aplomb by Betsy and David. With three little boys and a baby girl, they’re my heroes.
At my cousin Lane’s fourth birthday party last weekend, we were all outside enjoying the freshly-cool Virginia temperatures. It didn’t take long for the kids to jump in the ball pit and monkey around, and we eventually went over to make sure they didn’t catapult themselves off a large trampoline.
My grandmother asked Eric, my sister’s boyfriend, if he was planning on taking a turn jumping. He smiled and said he was, though not without carefully asking, “Is there any weight limit on that thing?”
Five hundred pounds, we were told. So Eric was in.
I wasn’t really planning on jumping myself. Little DJ, Lane and a buddy were having a ball somersaulting, and I figured my 27-year-old self would get in the way of their good time. But after Eric took a few spins and nearly launched the kindergartners into the trees, DJ asked if I wanted to jump.
How could I say no?
I had no idea what I was doing, of course. Like the time I tried rollerblading to impress a group of snobby fellow fifth-graders (and failed), it took me a while to get my “sea legs.” I was jostling about like a baby deer, afraid one wrong move would throw DJ into the grass or flip me at an odd angle. I’m old enough to know backyard mishaps can land you in the emergency room . . . and uptight enough to actually worry about such things.
But I let it go. Amazingly, I let it go. And once I stopped worrying, I had a heckuva good time chasing DJ on the trampoline, dirtying my bare feet and springing the kids into the air. I didn’t get fancy, but my little jumps made me feel lighthearted and free. With the cool breeze and golden-hour light on my skin, I could imagine being 10 years old again.
Only I can’t remember jumping on a trampoline back then. If I knew anyone who had one (which I didn’t), I would have been too afraid of falling or looking stupid to just enjoy it.
But I’m not anymore. And I’ll be launching sky-high from now on.