Bruises in Paradise (Ireland)
Theirs is an Irish country house with many cookbooks, smartly mismatched glasses and dishes, a soft purple sofa and a kettle with a whistle. Outside there’s rain, piercing winds, a garden with wild flowers. Beyond the fence, the neighbors’ barley field stretches all the way to the foot of the mountains. Years ago, when my kids were all so young, my friends had an unguarded and unfenced trampoline where children of every size jumped in and out with no ceremony. That trampoline made me hate the precious sunny
days in Ireland, because that’s when my children wanted to join other carefree kids in scary and heart-stopping loops and bounces.
I am not a helicopter mom, but I would certainly ban backyard trampolines if I could. When I see twelve children jumping higher and higher, challenging themselves to be more and more daring against the elastic surface, falling on the top of each other, bones, cartilages, skin, scratches, bruises, exposed fractures on the ankle or femur. I clench my teeth. I close my eyes and shake the scary thoughts off my head. At least, most trampolines have a net guard surrounding the elastic bed like a safe hug. Not the one sitting in the enchanted garden at my friends’ house: no nets, no cushions on the ground around it, just air, grass and cement. I close my eyes and see my son flying out of the round elastic area, in slow motion, and landing flat on hard ground. My breath stops for a few seconds.
At times I felt a little embarrassed, never allowing my children to join the others on the elastic jumps. The Irish parents, much more relaxed and risk-taking, looked at me and maybe saw an exaggerated and stressed Brazilian-American supermom. It didn’t feel good, but I always stood by my fear of trampolines. My kids despised me and protested.
“You are mean!”
“That’s not fair!”
“Please mom…please, please, pleeeeeease. Just once?”
The other children probably laughed at their expense. I was alone in my crusade for safety. Our friends, always so wonderful, started to discourage their own children to play on the trampoline when we visited. I felt bad sometimes. Did I exaggerate?
We never failed our yearly visits. All the children grew up. The old trampoline stands alone in the backyard, a rusty structure bearing a discolored, dusty circle. Kids now go clubbing and travel alone. Although our friends’ house was finished years ago, they still have to complete the patio facing the trampoline. Some light poles and cables are sticking out, like strands of thick uncombed hair. When I sit close by in the chilly breeze, they remind me of energetic skinny kids flying up and down on the elastic bed.