On my daily stroll to caffeinated glory (commonly referred to as a cafe), I wander past a bicycle store. A very serious bicycle store, with lots of very serious bicycles. All the serious-looking roadies and fixed gear bicycles your heart could desire.
So when I walked past last week and noticed one of the staff riding sheepishly down the driveway on the most miniature tricycle I’ve ever seen, I couldn’t help but smile. Neither could he. It was a broad grin, not even slightly apologetic. He was just being efficient, I’m sure, and there was no doubt about the fact that he was enjoying it.
I’ve come to recognise this smile. It’s the very same smile I noticed on another gentleman a few days earlier, as he hitched a ride on his trolley in the supermarket car park. There were quite a few raised eyebrows, there were giggles (mainly from me,) but most importantly, there was his smile that said ‘I’m being a little childish and I’m loving it!’
Since a friend was gifted a giant trampoline for her birthday, I’ve come to learn that this smile is also often accompanied by a certain kind of laughter; that infectious kind where even if you’re not directly taking part, you can’t help but laugh too. From the moment the word ‘trampoline’ is mentioned, faces light up and smiles spread. Age, gender nor status matter once you’re on a trampoline. All you can think about is the fact that you can’t stop smiling. Or laughing. You have sudden flashbacks to Beavis and Butthead, then realise that your laughter sounds eerily familiar. And then you laugh some more, and wonder how you used to do this for hours on end when you’re already puffed after a few awkward jumps.
In our quest to laugh like idiots for hours on end (like we need much help!) my friends and I have conducted completely un-scientific experiments in which we challenge each other to not smile whilst on the trampoline. Early experiments would indicate that it is, in fact, physically impossible to be grumpy on a trampoline. Even keeping a straight face has proven to be near impossible for a few moments, let alone an extended trampoline session. Although our experiments are ongoing, we are confident in our proposal for world leaders to conduct all future meetings and summits on giant trampolines.
In the name of scientific vigour, we have also purchased an inflatable wading pool and a Slip ‘N’ Slide, which we intend to test thoroughly throughout Summer. Preliminary reactions to these articles have met similar levels of delight as that of the trampoline, so we are hopeful for future successes.
What is it about these artefacts of our childhood that strikes such a chord? Is it simply the nostalgia, the memory of days gone by, or is the joy of not only reliving those memories, but repurposing and layering them with new meanings, new friends? The ability to be a child again, to jump around on springs, slide down a hill on plastic and sit in an impossibly small wading pool with your friends and your glasses of wine (although hopefully the wine didn’t feature in your childhood memory!)
There’s a special part of us that will always, despite our best efforts, be an unapologetic child. It’s this part of us that spins and rolls around the office on our conservative brown office chairs, just because we can. It’s this part of us that hitches a ride on the back of the trolley, simply because it’s fun. It’s this part of us that can light up a dozen faces and ignite a thousand memories with one innocuous word; oh trampoline, all the things it means to be young and carefree again!
There’s something truly special about embracing your inner child. It doesn’t take a trampoline or an inflatable pool (though they certainly help!) It just requires that every now and then, when you see someone enjoying themselves for some silly little reason, you chose to smile and laugh alongside them, and leave the raised eyebrows to someone else.
Guest post by Kit.