The first outdoor toy I ever played on was a trampoline. It was a cheap facsimile of the theme park versions that I had hopped up and down on as a small child. Barely two metres in width on both sides, it gave out after a month of heavy usage. The springs simply could not take my youthful exertion. So my father upgraded to an adult-sized trampoline with a safety enclosure for good measure. This outdoor toy was hardy and could take the weight of myself and my brother’s incessant jumping sprees. We would not have to upgrade it for a very long time afterwards.
My taste for outdoor toys grew as I did. After another summer disappeared into memory, a swinging bench was installed under the much-maligned fig tree which stank up the garden with its rotting fruit. I could scarcely believe the amount of fun I had, swinging like a hyperactive monkey under the thick branch of this evil tree. The fun quickly ended when I discovered that the base of my swing had become a colony for button-spiders. Instead of telling my father and letting him eradicate the problem for me, I decided to never use it again. I believe that this option was the best.
When swings and trampolines could no longer contain my boundless energy, my parents erected what was possibly the greatest outdoor toy of them all, namely an above-ground swimming pool. The sheer elation that teemed from my tiny body could barely restrain my enthusiasm for this project. It was quickly assembled and filled with water. It came with a simple filter and one rickety set of stairs, but I will be dammed if it wasn’t the most fun (pre-Nintendo) that I had ever had in my life. It rapidly become dirty and stained with grass, beetles loved to dive-bomb into the waters and swim into my hair and the pool-stairs became a danger to all and sundry, yet it remained a firm favourite for many years.
As I matured, my tastes in outdoor toys became slightly more advanced and wanting. The countless action movies that I had watched on repeat had inspired my cousin, my brother and myself to purchase BB guns. The upgraded versions of course, aptly named ‘Gats’. These were heavy, steel instruments of prepubescent destruction and felt dangerous in our fingers. The irony was of course that the pellets could do as much harm as shooting a pea out of straw. An eye could be damaged of course, but it was impossible (much to my dismay) to shatter bottles or break wooden beams. The Gats quickly became too underpowered to keep our waning interests, so we simply discarded them in the neighbourhood drainage systems.
My final outdoor toy came in the form of a mountain bike. It was an economy model, with tight brakes and a propensity for slipping on rainy surfaces. That particular craze lasted all of three months, roundabout the time I received my first Nintendo console. The world of gaming drew me out of the child-like succour that outdoor toys had gifted me. One day, my child can revel in their own dream world, filled with whichever outdoor toys they wish to own; and I will happily stand by their side as they enjoy it.