It was mid-December in the year 2008 and the last leaves had already fallen, ushering in the winter weather. Fierce gusts of wind, plummeting temperatures, rain mixed with snow and sleet, and long, dreary nights—all trapped my active, highly energetic children indoors, preventing them from releasing their seemingly unlimited positive energy.

Energy is power, and it signifies endless opportunities and possibilities. However, energy, it seems, is not exactly equally distributed among the inhabitants of this good earth. My mother once told me: “When G‑d was dishing out energy, your kids asked for seconds.” Although I am grateful for healthy offspring, at that time I felt frustrated because my children couldn’t go outside to play, and the energy was threatening to explode and destroy the peace and serenity of our home. After sitting in school for many hours they would come home edgy, and literally wreak havoc. The sibling rivalry would escalate to abnormal proportions.

So here I was, miserable and desperate for a solutionI couldn’t walk with them, because of the dangers on the dark country roads. So here I was, miserable and desperate for a solution. I knew that each day is a gift, and I strove to make the most of it, but at that time I couldn’t see the light.

I tried doing exercise with them to the beat of music, but with no success. I was determined to find a way to make them tired so that their bedtime wouldn’t be 11:00 PM. I came up with a fabulous idea—an inflatable bouncer. The problem with this was that the quality ones, the bouncers that would do the job, were not in my budget at the time. But once I set my mind on something, I persist until the mission is complete.

There was a beautiful gold bangle I had received as a wedding gift, and I took it to the jewelry store on Main Street to cash it in. The amount they were offering me was the exact amount I needed for the bouncer. I stood at the counter looking at my treasured bangle. I couldn’t let go of it so quickly. This bangle was one I had worn for years, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give it up. I told the jeweler I needed to think about it, and I would be back shortly. I left the store, taking with me my bracelet and my indecision.

I boarded a bus to Haverstraw Park and strolled along the tree-lined river bank. It was a glorious winter day and the sun was a lazy pale yellow. I sat down on a nearby bench, breathing deeply in the clean crisp air, and felt my mind beginning to clear. I pictured in my mind’s eye the bangle and bouncer having a debate. They were gesticulating energetically and articulating their various arguments. “Stop,” I commanded. “Now one at a time. You first, bracelet.”

Said the bracelet to me: “I am sooo beautiful. I make you feel pretty and attractive, and that gives you confidence. You’re a woman! You neeeeed me!!! What will you wear on your wrist the next time you dress up? Are you sure you want to attend the next celebration without me? And the next . . . and the next . . .?”

“Hey,” said the bouncer, deciding it was his turn. “Stuff can get stolen or destroyed by fire. And besides, there is no guarantee you will live tomorrow. I also will not last forever. So what do I offer? I offer the gift of love and camaraderie that comes when a family spends time together doing something that’s fun. And, it’s calorie free!!! And you, my dear woman, will offer your children the gift of fond and cherished memories. You will be teaching your children that where there is a problem, a solution follows on its heels. You will be sending them the message that their wellbeing takes priority over material possessions.”

Their wellbeing takes priority over material possessionsHis enlightening arguments nearly bounced me off the bench, and made me want to bounce for joy. There were no doubts left in my mind. Congratulations, bouncer, you won! I thanked G‑d for sending me wisdom in the form of “Mr. Bouncer.” I envisioned the smiling faces of my children. Gone were the tears of unhappiness and winter blues.

Nearly three years of happy bouncing have passed, and aside for a minor tear, which I repaired, the bouncer is still going strong. My door is open to all the kids in my neighborhood. They know where to come to let off steam and take part in the fun. And my children know that they have a valuable commodity which they are glad to share.

Thinking back, I believe I got the best of both worlds. I got to have an awesome time putting smiles on children’s faces, both mine and others. Childhood can be a time of great struggle, but also of great joy. While the days seem to slip away like a shadow, here one moment and gone the next, the fabric of our children’s lives are being woven minute by minute. Seize the moment, for it is gone in a second but lasts forever. Fill it with the gift of love. Play and laugh, for G‑d’s spirit rests with those who bring joy and love to the world.