Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Trapeze Lesson

By Aravah Chaiken, New York, 11


This summer, I learned a very important lesson. My mom signed me up for a trapeze lesson. My first reaction was, “Wow!  This is going to be great!” I could already feel the cool wind whistling next to my ears and see myself as a peregrine falcon, the fastest bird on the planet, soaring through the air. I’d read about P. T. Barnum and his circus with aerial acrobats spinning and twisting through the air.

After taking off my shoes, I looked up at the ladder. It stretched all the way to the sky. The instructor on the platform could fit under my thumb.  It was HIGH!

Another instructor on the ground locked a tight harness on me. I hooked the ladder cables to my harness and dragged my feet up the ladder. Rung by rung, the ground fell away beneath me.  My head began spinning like a top.  Once I reached the top, my hands began to sweat as I climbed onto the platform and waited my turn. This is when I started to have second thoughts.

The instructor attached the flying ropes to my harness and handed me the trapeze bar.  I awaited the commands we’d practiced.  At, “Ready!” I had to bend my knees, and at “Hup!” I had to jump. The reason people don’t say “go” is because it can get mistaken for “no”.

“Hup,” she called.  My legs succumbed to liquefaction. I don’t remember jumping, just my legs in the air and no platform beneath me.

The first feeling… was not pure joy.  It was pure terror! I kept my body still, but managed to mold my body into “the banana,” just as my teacher instructed.  Then I heard the next command, “legs up.”  I was a frozen banana, which was not what they wanted. They wanted me to hang by my knees, no hands, upside down, while rushing through the air as if I was on flying on robotic monkey bars.

“Legs up!” My teacher attempted for the second time. My legs were superglued together.

My teacher gave up and finally yelled “Hup!” a second time, which means that I should let go.  I slowly dropped onto the net and then crawled over to the edge. I held on to the handles and rolled over, dropping, (finally) to the ground.  The ground never felt so good.  I ran to the grey chairs to take my place in line, and didn’t budge from my safe spot on the ground for most of the class.

Towards the end, I mustered up the courage to go one more time. When I got up the platform and already had my harness on, I made a big mistake.  I looked down!  I got petrified again.  The teacher yelled, “Hup.”  That was my cue to jump.  I froze.  I heard “hup” again.  Still I stood like a popsicle.  My teacher had to push me. I went flying through the air yet again.

“Legs up!”

I made a great banana!  But I refused to turn upside down. But this time at the end, when they told me to do a backflip on my way down, I knew I could at least do that! Once I had done the backflip, the net caught me in its safe clutches. I rolled off and removed my harness.