Thursday, September 2, 2010

Playground Of Death

In the past four years I have warmed a lot of benches on playgrounds. I have been amazed at the evolution of the playground from my childhood days and all the safety measures that are now in place to protect kids from being kids. The playgrounds of today don't even compare to the playgrounds of my childhood.

Today's playground is usually a one piece job. Bright colored plastic that is treated to be antibacterial, covered connector bolts, rounded edges and placed on foundation of a springy rubber mat. The premise is safe fun, but its business is all about reduction of possible accidents.

How we ever survived those deathtrap playgrounds of our childhood, I will never know. I took The Scribblers to our local playground yesterday and found that we didn't have a modern playground. What they did have was everything from my childhood and The Scribblers were in awe.

  • Slide - This job was still metal, reached 12 feet in the air and had reached skin peeling temperatures. The unmistakable screech as a child went down assured you that this slide needed a good dose of Pam cooking spray to prevent a child from sticking as they cooked. The ground under the slide had been worn down from the years of children hitting the bottom and stood a good 2 feet below the drop off of the slide. Not only does your child get a butt burning slide but also a nice free fall at the end of the ride.
  • Swings with metal chains and black rubber seats. Once again a nice butt burn is the first order of business. After that there is always the chain hand pinch; followed by the weight of an empty swing knocking a child clear off its feet in a 5 foot arch backwards. If you don't have a bloody nose by now, you aren't doing it right. There is a rumor that these swings are capable of propelling a child right over the top of the set if you swing hard enough.
  • Metal death cage - This metal dome with criss cross bars is about 6 feet in the air and positioned over gravel. The goal is to climb to the top and either be too scared to back down or to just drop to the ground below and see how much gravel you can lodge into your shins.
  • Tether ball - I have never understood the real purpose of the tether ball game, but kids sure love to launch the ball and watch it swing around the pole. A kid with good practice can actually swing the ball with enough force and direction to knock a wandering toddler clear off their feet.
  • The carousel - My personal favorite, you could always get the thing going so fast that when children tried to get off, they couldn't stand upright for at least 15 minutes. You could always tell the centripetal force junkies by their green faces and weaving walk. Sometimes a child would try to exit, only to be too afraid to let go of the "hang on" bar and be drug on the side for several rotations or until their leg got caught on a branch that just happened to be laying around.
  • Branches and Stones - speaking of that branch that happened to be laying around. A good playground is always full of sticks and stones (Yes, they do break bones, but words will never hurt you) These implements are laying around for the child who is too cool for the actual playground. It gives them something to do as they have rock throwing contests to see if they can actually knock a child off the see-saw or have impromptu sword fights.
As I sit here writing this and subconsciously rubbing the scar on the back of my leg from a metal slide or the dent in my shin from the lodged gravel, I miss my youth. I miss the days that we were allowed to learn the hard way. While I try to protect my children, the playgrounds of our youth can teach a valuable lesson in life. After all, much like a scorching hot rubber swing seat; those hard lessons are the ones that stick. With no rubber matting to protect us, we learned to be more careful after we fell the first time and not always count on a safe, cushioned landing.

13 comments:

Ofthesea said...

Awww, now you got me all nostalgic for those old school metal chain swings! here you sit on a slab of wood supported by a metal frame, which affords plenty of opportunities for cuts, pinches, and of course stray splinters.

Ah, youth...

Jackie said...

Actually, those are the best types of playgrounds! My kids love them! Even my 14 yr old!
We survived and I'm sure that our kids will too!
Besides... kids will get hurt no matter how hard you try to protect them! They always find a way to do something stupid!

Ebatte said...

These playgrounds nowadays don't even look like FUN to me. I miss the carousel...even if I do have a triange-shaped scar on my leg from jumping off of one that was going a little too fast.

Bethany @ Organic Enchilada said...

We still have one of those carousels at a park by my house. My kids love it. :)

Kimberly said...

This was hilarious. I loved it. I'm constantly accused of not understanding, because I don't have kids, but I find that this bubble wrapped world where the ground is rubber, games don't keep score, and kids get time out as punishment through high school is confusing at best.

Never mind that I'm terrified to take my puppies to the dog park, because they'll encounter dogs who are late on their vaccinations or they might step in another dog's poo - that soooo doesn't count as being over protective.

So I'm free to judge away. *smile*

Andrea said...

So true. What happened to tire swings and dirt pits? Those were the days. I love the antibacterial bolts!

Making It Work Mom said...

We have one of those new fangled playgrounds in our town. It is even sectioned off into age appropriate areas. The problem is that the section for the over 6 year old crowd is so high it will give you a nosebleed! I couldn't believe and of couse that is a magnet for my then 3 year old!

*Jess* said...

you just described my childhood playground to a "T"!

Barb said...

The carousal! Oh barf!!! A playground full of metal with peeling lead based paint no doubt. Ahhhh good times.

Erin said...

Oh the carousal and the memories that brings back. Mostly because I can say I've actually been to a plastic surgeon because of one. The cover had come off exposing the bolt that it spins on. My brother told me to put my finger on top of it while it was spinning. I put it next to it. Grinding and screaming ensued. My great grandma was watching us over the weekend and when my parents came home three days later it still had grease and dirt in it and was bleeding. I got an emergency trip to the ER. And now you know the real beginnings with my trials in medicine!

Amy O'Connor said...

That is one of the things I love about the little West Texas town I come from. It still has an awesome playground that actually still has dirt and grass! There's a slide that is at least 18 foot high and monkey bars! My kids like going to the park here at home, but they like the when they go to Nanny's best!

playground accident claims  said...

nice information..nodoubt playgrounds plays an important part in mental and physical growth of children. But now a days, we can't say its too safe.So before taking your kids to playground please give them special safety instructions to prevent any kind of injuries.

Mama M. said...

So true...so, so true!

The best lessons in life, the ones that stick with us the most, are the ones that sometimes hurt a little!

As you were describing your park, I was picturing our local "old school" park...the one that used to have swings that not only worked the traditional way, but were suspended from a pole, with one on each side, that, if you had someone big enough, you could be swung around and around also.

Must have been "dangerous", cuz they aren't there anymore...but the metal slides, metal death dome, and "merry-go-round" (that's what we call it here. We "go on a merry-go-round and then barf up all of our pop".). What a fun park.

I think I've gotta take my kids there more often!

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