I have so many memories of times as a child spent on playgrounds.
Not all of them are pleasant memories, such as burnt bums on metal slides and blisters from monkey bars, but memories nonetheless. I’m still one of the lucky ones not to have come out of one with broken bones. Plenty of bruises and blood loss though.
My family travelled a lot when I was primary school age, so we spent a lot of time cooped up in a car. Shade was created via a towel wedged in a window. Air-conditioning was acquired through opening those windows. Fights were had (she’s touching me, Mum, tell her to stop touching me) and a lot of eye spy was played.
But when we eye-spied a playground there was a back-seat call out to stop and let us loose for a while. I do recall driving past plenty, with wishful (wistful??) eyes watching as we drove past, but there were plenty we did stop and explore.
Pushing each other as high as we could on the swings, watching the frame sometimes leap wildly out of its concrete framing, all added to the fun. There was always something funny about making the person on the other end of the see-saw cling on for dear life as you tried to make them fly off into the air or plummet back to ground at a hurtling speed. Competing with the other kids over who was in charge of the playground was always another added part of the experience. Sometimes you would start as enemies and end up as best friends… for the day, anyway.
We saw some pretty cool playgrounds in our time. More than just your average rope swing and tyres painted different colours to look fancy. Dinosaurs with a slide down their back were some of the more memorable examples. But nothing can compare to the amazing playgrounds you find now.
We took our teenage boys to a local playground Frew Park last weekend to have a look around. It was a playground like I had never seen. Climbing walls, fireman’s pole, climbing nets and covered slides to prevent those burnt bum moments. While our kids hung about for a while pretending they were too old for the place it didn’t take long for them to join in with the dozens of other yelling screaming kids who were having a absolute blast. And yes, there were a few adults joining in too, on the pretence of looking after the kids. (It’s OK, we know who the big kids are).
My favourite piece of playground equipment back in the day was always those roundabout spinning rides. You could fit a dozen or so kids on, with one or two pushing from the side to make it go faster and faster. Sometimes you would fall off. Sometime it would make you feel deliciously ill. Sometimes the smaller kids cried and you had to stop and let them off, before they spewed all over you. Those rides were the best. You don’t often see them any more.
Workplace health and safety and all that. It’s a shame, really. Mind you, they still have those monkey bars, so there are still plenty of opportunities to spend the afternoon waiting at the emergency department of the local hospital.