Making Playgrounds Safe From the Communists
I read a report this morning that Playgrounds are now too safe for children.
I cannot tell you how many times I personally, on the air, have complained about how easy kids have it today. You know the drill – “When I was kid we didn’t have seat belts, or cable TV, or knee pads. We had these things called “Jungle Gyms” that were above concrete,” and so on until I start sounding a little bit like my Grandparents when they would go on about life during the Great Depression and how easy we kids in the late 60’s and early 70’s had it in life.
And here’s the thing, I was right (for the record, so were my Grandparents). Kids today do have it easy, but wasn’t that they whole reason that my Grandfather went off to war against the Nazi’s? Wasn’t the the whole reason that I went off to defeat the evil Communists? To make a better world so that our progeny could have it better – and easier – than we did? Why did we invent all kinds of technological progress, if not to make things easier for them?
Didn’t one of of Nations’ founders say (paraphrase), that if there were to be struggles and difficulty, let it be during his lifetime so that his children might live in peace?
Through the years, playgrounds – once a source of the occasional broken arm and some bruises and an occasional chipped tooth – have undergone a transformation to the point where the ground underneath them resembles a sponge more than actual ground.
I was in Bakersfield a few weeks back and we had some spare time so we took Ben to the local park. There he ran around, and climbed all over the local play structure, scaring the living daylights out of me. He is so small, and this thing is so big. There are holes in the sides where he can poke his whole body through, hanging on to the edge and laughing as I panic and run towards him to catch him if he should fall through, only to duck back in and run to the other end. There are huge rocks, giant tires miles in the air, with death defying plunges into the ground below.
There were slides that he was afraid of at first, then Cami started riding down them with him. He decided that they weren’t so bad and starting down them by himself. Laughing and smiling his hair rising from the static electricity that never was an issue on the old hot metal slides of my youth, down he would go, only to run back up the ladders and climbing (simulated) rocks, to go down again and again.
I started to relax a bit, and of course, that’s when the menacing music in the music score of my life should have started. I began to look away, taking in the beauty and activity around us, even as Ben was going up and down. The moment came when my looks away timed up with his descent on the slide, and I missed him at the bottom.
There was a sound like, “thud” and a cloud of dust rose from where he was now sitting in his behind with a surprised look on his face. You can tell me all you want that Playgrounds are “too safe” for kids, but in that moment I would argue that they aren’t nearly safe enough.
He laughed, got up and ran back to the ladder yelling,” Do it again, daddy!”
Of course, when I was younger, we kids were tougher and more resilient, and of course we used to play with firecrackers and play full-contact tag on our bikes and so on and so on. Of course today’s playgrounds would bore us to death and be far to “safe” for us, but there’s no way that they are safe enough – or ever will be safe enough.
Not for my son.