To celebrate the end of the school year and reward my youngest for super grades, hubby and I purchased a zip line. We have a multitude of trees in our yard and figured we may as well put them to some good use! After some research, we agreed that purchasing one at a neighborhood toy store, rather than online, was our best option. The brand we were buying had received mostly positive reviews and a place close to my office sold them.

When we went to buy it on Friday, we asked the sales clerk and store manager a multitude of questions. They had sold many of them, none had ever been returned, and their return policy was one were you got store credit only. That bothered me a little. This is one of those joints that sells a lot of overpriced “educational” toys that look like they were all made in Sweden. But our girl had her heart set on having a zip line, and she really earned it. We paid the $100 and planned on installing it the following day.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, hubby and I marched out into the yard to start our big installation. After some deliberation, we found two trees that were a) the correct distance apart from each other, and b) did NOT have another tree in it’s path. It was somewhat of a challenge. Then we began the process of making this puppy operational.

We took our time to carefully read the instruction, measure, screw, hoist and tighten. It took us close to 3 hours in 93° heat, but by 2:30 pm the zip line was up and ready for her maiden voyage. We got daughter out and up on the ladder to give it a try. She was scared – it required a leap of faith to take her feet off the 2nd rung of that ladder. And when she finally let go to fly, all she did was slide right to the ground.

Cable wasn’t taught enough. hmmm. Hubby and I go back, tinker, raise the cable and try our damndest to make that cable as taught as humanly possible.

Daughter comes out for attempt #2. Now the cable is way higher, and she needs to climb to the 3rd rung of the ladder to grab the hand trolley. By this point she’s not just scared, I’m scared too! When she finally gathers up her nerve to go, she looses her grip on the trolley and lands on the grass. We tell her, “you have to hang on tight, and keep your feet up.”

She tries again, and she finally gets it…she zips on down the line to the halfway point, and then her feet hit the grass. This fucker is still not taught enough. Hubby and I look at each other in desperation. We cannot get this line any tighter – this is just not working properly. She’s still elated though. She races back to give it another try. After 2 or 3 more “rides” her hands are sore and she gives up and heads into the cool comfort of our home.

Wondering how to salvage this, we think of our options. Even if we find someone with a winch or discover a way to make the line taught enough so it doesn’t bow in the center, we are faced with other problems. Everytime the kids wanted to ride this thing, we’d have to drag out the ladder. The starting point is HIGH, and even though it’s on grass, someone must HOLD the ladder while child is on it. Suddenly the fun activity that your kid could just run outside and enjoy became another chore for mom and dad.

Add to that the fact that after a few rides it was glaringly apparent that my kids have zero upper body strength. While we know that the zip line would help build that strength, swollen and blistered hands deterred them from playing with it for more than 15 minutes. By Monday afternoon we realized that we had made a very bad purchase, regardless of all the positive reviews and the fact that the store had sold hundreds and none had been returned.

This mofo was going back. Daddy took it all down and packaged it back up, and I marched into the store today to get my store credit. The manager tried to give me shit about it. She claimed we had “used” it and they wouldn’t take it back. I argued that we had asked her tons of questions about their return policy just days before – she remembered me – and that had she told us we could not return it if it was opened and used, we wouldn’t have purchased it at all. She gave in and I have my credit voucher.

Next week I’ll take my girls in there and let them each pick something – a toy that will keep them occupied during the summer months. Hopefully one that will keep them active. As long as it doesn’t require me to hold a ladder.