Playgrounds and jungle gyms were staples in my childhood, and despite the many injuries and near-miss catastrophes, those were good times. And while I’m not sure, I think kids today are missing a lot of the fun, what with their plastic playgrounds and “soft surfaces.”
It’s sad to think that they might never experience the thrill of woodchips and pavement gravel embedded in their knees or get 3rd degree burns from a hot metal slider. Oh, the memories.
But let’s also be a little practical here.
While the general premise of a playground is great, there were some questionable choices in earlier versions. I can only imagine what the first “playground pitch meeting” sounded like decades and decades ago.
Playground pitchers (PP): Children need something to climb other than trees, so let’s construct a whole ground for play on cement, cover it with splintered woodchips for safety and then scatter pieces of metal equipment throughout.
Committee (C): Go on…
PP1: First, we’re going to include a swing with both black rubber seats that will reach inferno temps in the summer and wood seats that provide the likelihood of ass splinters. Don’t worry though, as the splinters will be ignored when swingers get blisters on their hands or their flesh stuck in the metal chains.
There’s also the slight chance that riders might get overzealous, pump extremely high and then jump off and attempt to be Super Grover at the suggestion of their mom, badly bruising their tailbone and then blogging about that 25 years later, but the odds are slim to none. (Editor’s note: Yeah, it happened.)
PP2: Speaking of metal, we will provide numerous unsupported slides of heights from 10-feet to 12-feet with a nice concrete mat at the end covered in woodchips for those riders who slide down headfirst.
PP1: Next to the slides we’ll provide monkey bars so that “chicken fights”—American Gladiator-like contests in which foes hang from the bars and attempt to pull the other off the structure—can be staged. We also see children climbing on top of the monkey bars and hanging upside down above cement by their legs like cave bats.
PP2: The next piece is a “teeter-totter.” One kid sits on one end while the other—preferably of similar weight, but doubtful—climbs up onto the opposite end. They push off and up and down they go!
PP1: With this there is the slight chance that one will purposely get off when at the bottom of the teeter-totter, causing the other user to crash down to the ground at a dangerous speed, possibly breaking their tailbone. Depending on weight distribution, there is also the risk that one user will purposely get off and catapult their counterpart across the park, but that could be fun, too!
PP2: Finally, the “merry-go-round,” a metal structure with rails that children will grab and run around with to speed the structure up before trying to climb on it like Jackie Chan jumping on a moving train. Once on, they hold on for dear life to the handles (and their recently ingested lunches) and either wait for it to stop spinning or drag their feet off the side through the woodchips to slow the thing down.
C: I like where you’re going with this. And just think! In the winter the slide can be iced up, creating a kid cannon that will launch them clear into a hardened pile of frozen snow.
PP1: Exactly. More importantly, those that don’t survive the playground will be weeded out of society, but better to find out early, right? After all, much like lawn darts and eyelash curlers, it’s not the toys that are inherently dangerous. It’s how people choose to use them.
C: Agreed. Add a tetherball court—ropes, balls, children with bad aim. A little knock on the head from a tetherball is an easier way to learn the lesson of avoiding rapidly moving objects than letting the kid step out in front of a speeding car someday, smug in the unrealistic expectation that bad things can’t happen.
This is really a win all around.
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