I now have a huge, redwood play structure in my backyard. It takes up one whole side of my back lawn. It has a big elevated deck with a sloping roof, two regular swings, a rope swing, a weird ball and handle swing, a chain ladder, a rope ladder, a regular ladder, and a slide. It even has an extra tire swing, if I could figure out where to mount it. The kids love it. Well, two out of the three love it, anyway.
We just got it this weekend. It was free. At least, my wife says it was free. I look at that a little differently. The price we paid for it was definitely zero dollars, as it was given to us by a friend of a friend whose family had outgrown it. The costs associated with getting this backyard behemoth to our house are another matter.
As my wife raves about our new “free” play structure, I just can’t help adding a few things up in my head:
There were the three cases of beer that I bought for our friend and the previous owner as a thank-you. That was $49.
There was the 24-foot U-Haul truck that I had to rent to move the play structure from El Dorado Hills to Rocklin. That was $97.
There was gas for the U-Haul truck. That was $33.
There was the beer I bought for my brother-in-law and my friend who came over to help me retrieve, transport, and re-assemble the play structure. That was $32.
And lunch for the crew. One of whom ate three Chipotle burritos. $40.
And a pizza dinner for the crew and their families, since reassembly of the gargantuan play structure took all afternoon. Another $45.
If my math is correct, that already makes our free play structure cost at least $296. But let us not forget the hidden costs. I will inevitably have future work day obligations at my brother-in-law’s house and my friends' houses to properly complete the cycle of home improvement assistance reciprocation. Not only do those future days have gas and travel costs associated with them, but opportunity costs associated with all the things I won’t otherwise get done that day. Also, I’m confident that my wife will want to get rid of the grass that is currently under the new play structure, and replace it with decorative bark. There’s another future weekend down the drain, and bark is not exactly free.
And as for this past weekend, we also need to take into consideration the gas my wife and I used to get the U-Haul and the meals. The gas my crew used to get to my house and back. The thirteen wood screws and two lag bolts that I had to find in my garage to finish the installation. All these things add up.
Then, there’s also the ER bills. And the cost of the overnight hospital stay. The bill for the team of two orthopedic surgeons and the anesthesiologist in the OR. The missed day of work I had while getting the three-year-old’s femur re-set in a cast. Those things might add up.
Did I forget to mention the broken leg?
Now, Son Number Three has been to the park probably hundreds of times. He has played on countless different sizes of play structures, both at parks, school playgrounds, and other people’s houses. He has never jumped off the top of any of those.
Apparently, however, when the play structure is suddenly located in your very own backyard, that obviously means that you can also fly. At least, to my three-year-old it did. Ten minutes after we finished the installation, that play structure got a whole lot less free when mini Superman learned a hard lesson about gravity versus imaginary super-powers.
I haven’t received any bills from the hospital yet, but after going back through my records on some of our previous ER visits and hospital stays, I’m estimating the “free” play structure is going to end up costing me about $27,000, give or take a few hundred bucks.
Outstanding. Oh, well. At least I have less lawn to mow now.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen
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