Thursday, April 21, 2016

Playgrounds: 2016 Version

Ahhh, the park...parks have changed a lot over the years.  When did playgrounds become a thing anyway?  They have been around my whole life but were they around in the 1970's or 1960's or before?  I imagine the standards swings and slides have been around for a long time but the developmentally appropriate, super safe equipment of today is a recent development.  There was an old swingset in my city park that was the standard commercial grade A-frame (so quite tall compared to the ones people had in their yards) and at one end a slide was attached to it.  The top of the slide was at the apex of the A-frame and a ladder lead up to it.  There was, if I can recall, no railing.  No one ever fell off to my knowledge but still...geez.  You don't see that sort of thing anymore and that's OK I guess but I do miss some of the other equipment that is now too much of a liability.  You never see these anymore unless you hit up a small town park that has other things to worry about besides getting sued: 

I know the city park in my hometown still has one but I'm not sure if the school playground still has one.  We had so much fun on that thing.  Those different colored pie slices inspired many games.  You also never see any of these:

These would appear to require two people but they were also fun with one person.  At what point will it tip?  How hard is it to "surf" in the middle and make it balance? You could also go the other way and put as many people as would fit on each side. 

I also haven't seen one of these in years:

This particular bridge looks like it could use some maintenance but I was referring to ones with all of their chains attached!  I guess they do look like a sliver waiting to happen and I had a traumatic experience with a huge sliver when I was in elementary school so it's probably for the best but these bridges were part of so many fun games.  Imagine the possibilities! 

I just thought of another piece of equipment/game that I haven't seen in years that I loved as a kid...Tetherball! 

Tetherball was so fun.  At the bible camp I used to attend everyone would congregate around tetherball and we would play that dumb game until someone made us stop and do something else.  It seems you can buy a tetherball pole but I guess no one wants to take the risk of putting them in public anymore. 

It' kind of a shame these are a thing of the past.  There is no denying they were fun and required some imagination.  I have read studies and articles that indicate that kids, with each passing year, are becoming less agile, more fidgety in school and more physically unfit.  What a coincidence that all of this now obsolete playground equipment encourages running, jumping, spinning, balance and challenging the muscles. 

Our nearest neighborhood park is quite nice even in it's watered down modernity.  The kids love it and I guess it is nice to know they probably won't get hurt since they are still so small.  Ben discovered the rock climbing wall for the first time this year and of course scaled it right to the top. 

He is finally at an age where I feel OK with him roaming around the playground without me hovering and having my eyes on him all the time. One thing that insurance companies and lawsuits haven't eliminated are those blasted fireman poles and Ben has never had a fear of heights so I have always had to watch those closely.  Last night he met another boy who was 6 and a girl who was 5 and the three of them played for an hour.  They played with a ball, played hide and seek and played tag.  I kept waiting for it to go downhill and for the hitting, whining and fit throwing to start but they played on until I had to make him leave so we could have supper.  It was great because I could push Tessa on the swing since she didn't want to do anything else! 


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