Two things are sprouting on lawns across suburbia this time of year: dandelions and trampolines.
They are both ugly weeds that get too tall and are impossible to remove.
My Facebook feed is teeming with photos of friends who have scored a new tramp for their backyard. There are pics of the kids bouncing and laughing and having fun. At least on opening day.
Our backyard neighbors had a trampoline. The day they installed it, my wife cried. They put it in a far corner of their backyard, not 20 yards from our kitchen window. The only thing she saw above our fence where a view of sunrises and blue skies had been, was black nets. We loved the day that they moved.
Trampolines are terrible, people. They really, really are. People hate trampolines. You may love it (at first), but the day you unpack that thing everyone in the hood is scowling at you with a tsk tsk tsk under their breath.
If you are thinking about getting one for the kids this summer, stop. Don’t.
1. Trampolines are boring.
The kids will use it half a dozen times. At most. Parents think tossing them in a bouncy mesh cage will be the perfect tonic to boredom. Truth is: kids get bored of bouncing on a trampoline too.
2. Trampolines are ugly.
Unlike the Transformer, or dolly, or bike, or scooter that they get bored of, you can’t stuff a trampoline into the corner of a toybox or garage. It’s big. It’s ugly. The flickr caption for the photo above is “the Ikea project from hell.” Have fun with that.
3. Trampolines are a waste of money.
These bouncing things aren’t cheap people. And it will sit and stare at you and rust and as the local birds and vermin make nests underneath it you will be reminded every single day what an ugly, waste of money it was.
4. Trampolines are popular.
Oh sure, during the first week you’ll think it’s awesome that every kid is coming over to play, but you’ll soon realize the other parents are smart. They didn’t waste the money on a big ugly tramp AND they get to ditch the kids on you. You’ll never have quiet again.
5. Trampolines are not neighborly.
Stuffing it in the far corner of your yard away from your house just puts it closer to someone else’s house. Instead of being neighborly like Wilson and peering your nose over the fence to chat, you have erected what amounts to a big fishing net between the houses.
6. Do you want to end up embarrassed on America’s Funniest Home Videos?
Okay, the best part of America’s Funniest Videos is the moment you see a trampoline, because you know it’s not going to end well. But while it’s funny to laugh at someone else’s kid doing a face plant, how will you react when it’s yours?
7. Injury is likely.
As early as 1998, pediatricians were calling for a ban on trampolines as injuries doubled year over year. 250,000 trampoline-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States between 1990 and 1995.
8. Group jumping is dangerous.
20% of injuries to the spinal cord caused by trampoline use are due to jumpers bumping into each other, trying to do stunts, or falling off of the trampoline. You can’t just stop at one kid. They all want to be on at the same time and that’s when 75% of the injuries are most likely to happen. Fractures and dislocations make up nearly 1/2 the injuries and kids under 5 are most likely to get hurt.
9. Nets don’t prevent injuries.
Nets, padding, and other safety features don’t really do anything to significantly decrease the risk of injury.
10. Insurance policies don’t cover trampoline injuries.
Remember all the kids coming over to use your tramp? Remember the part about everyone wanting to get on at the same time and that’s when the injuries happen? Well, many home insurance policies don’t cover injuries related to trampolines. Those neighbors just might become plaintiffs.
11. Someone could actually break a leg.
Trampolines present a unique set of circumstances for injury, and they’re not all from falling off the trampoline. If your kids like to have you bouncing with them, you’re risking a type of broken leg called a proximal tibia fracture.
It is likely in kids under 6 and happens when you have a 170 pound adult bouncing with a 40 pound child, the recoil of the tramp isn’t always consistent. If a child lands incorrectly, when the tramp isn’t cushioning, it’s equivalent of landing 9 feet onto a hard surface. *Snap*
12. Doctors strongly discourage trampoline use.
Don’t take my word for it, listen to your doctor. Last September, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “strongly discourages” the use of recreational trampolines, either at home or in commercial indoor parks.
13. There is one exception.
There is one kind of trampoline, I may be willing to cut some slack to — the sunken trampoline. It is an in-ground bouncing device, think in-ground pool. It’s hidden away and blends into your yard and when the kids fall, they’re not falling off or getting caught on anything, they’re just dropping for 10-12 feet directly onto the lawn. It might not be as bad, but no guarantees.