I sat, and stared at the parts set out before me. In the hope that through some sort of backyard miracle, they would assemble themselves.
They didn’t, of course. The bits and pieces refused to assist.
The company responsible had given assurances that anyone could put this trampoline together. I would prove them wrong.
It should have been so simple. After all, I had done such work before. I’ve told you about it. When I put one together on Christmas Eve some years back, with the aid of a helpful neighbour and strong drink.
The proof of my labour that night was sitting at the other end of the yard. But it’s old now. Rusty, and frayed around the edges. With much less bounce. Yes, the similarities between us are striking.
The Teenager had been pleading for a new one for her birthday. She needed it to practice her cheerleading leaps and jumps. The key was the safety net, that our original work of art was missing. It seemed like a reasonable request.
I had spent the best part of an hour studying the instructions. Over and over. Panel One made absolutely no sense to me. I held parts up, twisting them this way and that. Nothing.
The deal was that I would have it functional by the time The Teenager came home from practice. A three-hour window. At this rate I would need three weeks.
The minutes ticked by. The winter sun was in a rush to depart. It would be dark soon. There was nothing to do but sit some more, and continue my pitiful staring.
When The Teenager finally made her way into the yard, there was not even the hint of surprise. It would seem she had expected to see the scene that was indeed before her.
I apologised for my lack of construction ability, and poured scorn on the makers. There had obviously been a mistake in the factory. Parts were missing. It may have even been the wrong model. We would complain firmly, and seek an immediate refund.
As I thundered my protest, The Teenager scanned the paperwork that had been baffling me. And smiled.
‘Dad, you’re reading the wrong instructions. That was for the safety net. THIS is the sheet for the trampoline.’
A simple mistake, it would seem. That lasted for several hours. Daughter Two giggled. She, too, had seen this before.
The Teenager is nothing if not determined. And incredibly talented. She decided to take charge.
‘Dad, this is actually quite simple. I think we can do it.’
And so it was that on a winter’s evening during school holidays, I became hired help for a fourteen year old girl.
Before I knew it she had assembled the base. Daughter Two joined in. We spread the mat, and began hooking up dozens of springs.
Still in a daze from being shown up so completely, and with the night wind biting, I was ready to complete the next phase in record time. But The Teenager cautioned against such haste. If just one spring was put into the wrong position, we’d have to start again. Where does she learn this stuff?
As a team, we took our time, and got it right. And just like that, the job was done. The Teenager squealed as she made her first jump. From foreman to birthday girl, just like that.
There’s something special about being taught things by your daughters. I get the feeling there are many more lessons on the way.
We didn’t have time to do the safety net. That’s the easy bit, she reckons. Maybe this weekend. Just let me know when you need me boss.