Paul Andersen: Jumping for joy up the Fryingpan | AspenTimes.com
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Paul Andersen: Jumping for joy up the Fryingpan

Bouncing up and down like a yo-yo has become the latest passion of my household. Now that we have a trampoline, we’re all living on air-time. This is not exactly the way I had envisioned the pastoral life on the Fryingpan, but since when has that mattered?

The tramp represents a logical progression of material desires expressed by our 10-year-old son, whose appetite for playthings changes with every catalog that clutters our mailbox. I usually toss the offending promotions, but occasionally they slip through my web of censorship and end up in Tait’s hands.

There are few more alluring publications than the Sharper Image catalog for a child with modest reserves in his savings bank, time on his hands, and a fascination for things. Paging through the glossy, attractive photos, everything from spy cameras to home observatories catch our son’s impressionable eyes.

The latest thing on his “I’ve-got-to-have-this” list was a motorized scooter. Ever since watching some kid in the Aspen Fourth of July parade gliding up and down Main Street a few years ago, a motorized scooter has been Tait’s top priority.

Parental admonishments regarding potential injury and environmental impacts held little sway with our son, whose sole purpose in life became identified with a self-propelled scooter. Without one, he would be miserable for the rest of his life; with one, he would be the happiest, most fulfilled boy in the universe.

Then we went to a big lawn party at a friend’s house. There were kids. There was a tramp. He came, he saw, he jumped. And suddenly, the motorized scooter lost its sheen. The tramp was a done deal, at least in Tait’s mind.

I hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with a reasonable rationale for not getting a tramp. My objections were sound because I had read that tramps cause injuries. “They are dangerous,” I fulminated. “They paralyze kids and, in the worst circumstances, even cause death.”

This topic segued nicely into the issue of insurance. A few months ago, we were being evaluated for a new homeowners policy. Our agent leveled her gaze at us and prompted: “You don’t have a trampoline, DO YOU?” She gave the issue the same weight as living in close proximity to a fire hydrant or having smoke detectors.

Armed with the insurance trump card, I then dredged up the usual financial concerns. Can we afford a tramp? Do we want to? How critical is it that we succumb to the allure of an expensive, deadly, child-killing personal liability?!!! I became the grand inquisitor and parentis non gratis.

At each impasse, the tears flowed. “I’ll never get a tramp,” moaned our son, “and I’ll never have anything to do here. It’s the middle of the summer, and I don’t have anything to play with. My friends don’t come here because it’s so boring …”

This litany of complaints became so egregious to our domestic tranquillity that death and disfigurement soon paled by comparison. I called the insurance agent, who recanted and said a tramp would be fine with our policy, as long as no one ever got hurt – ever! I called Gart Brothers and was quoted $150 for a tramp, and another $100 for a protective net.

“Count your money, Tait,” I instructed, and he ran upstairs and dumped his coins and bills onto the floor. He pawed through them and reported: “I have $122, and that includes my two silver dollars Grandpa gave me, plus the $2 bill you told me never to spend.”

Damn! My arguments were dashed on both fronts. Insurance wasn’t technically an issue, and with my son throwing his piggy bank into the deal, the price of a tramp wasn’t onerous. My only other option was the parental veto. But I’m saving that for the motorcycle issue, which is sure to come in a few years.

Well, we bought the tramp, and it sits in our yard, and it is a kid magnet, and it is fun. Now that we’ve had it for a week without any serious injuries, we’ve gotten kind of used to it, and even sort of like it.

“See Dad, I told you it was fun,” Tait reminded me, a huge smile on his face. “Now, can I have a turn, please. Dad? Please?!!!”

[Paul Andersen is jumping for joy because now life is good on the Fryingpan. His column appears on Mondays.]


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