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Playgrounds

We were at the playground today, me inviting a hernia by attempting to push Bub and his playmate up and down on the seesaw, which quickly led to a mental diatribe in my mind about seesaws, then about playgrounds in general. This is that diatribe. What happened to playgrounds, seriously? This thing they call a...

042613dev-featureWe were at the playground today, me inviting a hernia by attempting to push Bub and his playmate up and down on the seesaw, which quickly led to a mental diatribe in my mind about seesaws, then about playgrounds in general. This is that diatribe.

What happened to playgrounds, seriously? This thing they call a seesaw is actually just a turtle-green lever that would dare a spry fifteen year-old to achieve more than six inches of net elevation gain. One end of a seesaw is always on the ground—those are rules—yet this thing sits there perfectly balanced like the scales of boredom. This is not a seesaw—it’s an embarrassment.
Seesaws, by strict definition, must be constructed of thin, preferably rusty metal. They must be capable of achieving a max height that is scientifically just under the neutering threshold for that inevitable moment your unsavory teeter-totter mate jumps off at ground level and lets you drop like a cartoon anvil to reverberate in agony on the asphalt.
That’s how we rolled when I was a kid. I grew up with these and the death apparatuses known as tilt-a-whirls (which I think are actually extinct now), where the goal was to spin our friends straight to Vomit Land. It was either that, or you risked jumping off a fast-spinning hunk of metal. It’s called FUN.
It’s no wonder our kids are so soft now. Everything is so safe, so plastic. So many helmets. Even on the off chance Bub’s left buttcheek somehow shifted a couple inches on this thing they call a seesaw and he plummeted headlong from its apex, he would tumble less than three feet, only to land on very forgiving Playground Kevlar.
I’m sorry, but part of the inherent thrill of the playground was always the tinge of danger, the uncertainty. We’ve taken that, made a plastic mold of it, painted it green, and now try to peddle it as fun. Thus endeth diatribe.
I do want to add, though, that this may very well be the parents’ fault. I don’t remember going to the playground until I was about school age. Now there are toddlers falling about (mine included) mixed in with what I would call the target age group, the slide runner-uppers. Much like the chicken and the egg, did the safety come as a response to these younger kids showing up, or did it become okay to bring smaller kids because it’s nearly impossible for them to sustain injury?
Who knows? Maybe neither. My friend and I were discussing this as we walked the kids back. He’s much more rational, and probably correctly asserted that it likely had more to do with lawsuits being filed, or the fear of, that brought about the end of the metal and concrete era. Talk about taking the fun out of things. I guess it doesn’t matter. Bub still has a good time; that’s the important part.

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