My kids and I play a game we call Pepper Johnson. It involves a trampoline, a football, and our dog Pepper B. The combination of the football and Pepper the dog led to us naming the game after Pepper Johnson, the former New York Giants linebacker.
The games involves two people on the trampoline (usually the kids), one person on the ground (usually me), and the dog running between. The person on the ground throws the football into the trampoline while the people on the trampoline are bouncing. The people on the trampoline try and catch the ball while bouncing and also keeping the ball away from the other person. Once someone on the trampoline takes possession of the ball they throw it back to the person on the ground. Meanwhile the dog is sprinting between the person on the ground and the trampoline. It is a canine version of monkey in the middle.
What makes the game exciting is when one of the people on the trampoline makes the throw out of the trampoline while bouncing and trying to connect with the person on the ground. Often times the throw coming out of the trampoline is not as accurate as you might see on an NFL Sunday and the person on the ground needs to try and catch the ball before it hits the ground and the dog snaps it up. Once the dog gets possession, she will sprint around the yard with the ball in her mouth until one of us catches her or she gets tired. The ball then gets put back in play with dog slobber all over it which adds to the event. Needless to say we have gone through many footballs over the years as the ball hits the ground and bounces into the teeth of our dog more often than not.
We don’t play Pepper Johnson as much as we used to. We have as much fun playing now as we ever did so I am not sure why. The thing I like about it is the fact that this will be one of those games from my kids’ childhood that will follow us throughout our lives. We could be sitting around a campfire in the future and one of us will say “Remember when we used to play Pepper Johnson…?” We will all get a smile on our face and start telling stories and laugh. And the warmth from that moment will not only be coming from the campfire.