Thursday, July 17, 2014

Merry Go Rounds, Rusty Slides, and Polar Cups

(This post is inspired by a post from Jenny From The Blog.)

I'm pretty sure our population is only going to get stupider.

We're defying Darwin with all of our idiot proofing ways and in the next few generations I'm fairly sure we're going to have a bunch of morons bumbling around the planet knocking their heads on sharp corners and falling off of curbs.

My kids don't know what a merry-go-round is. When I mentioned a merry-go-round, they thought I was talking about a carousel complete with horses and benches and lights and music.

Carousels are boring, y'all.

You know what's not boring? A merry-go-round.

Think back to when you were a kid and you played on one of these babies. It was made out of hot metal that had been baking in the sun and you had to pull your shorts down a little and sit all funny on it so none of your bare skin touched the metal and gave you 3rd degree burns. If you were lucky, you had a cool adult with you who would push it really hard and you'd cling to the bars to avoid flying off and going airborne only to get a mouth full of playground sand (because we had sand, not mulch or AstroTurf or bouncy rubbery crap made from recycled tires).  If you didn't have an adult with you (because lots of times you were at the playground without an adult - this happened), you might convince another kid to push it, but mostly you'd get it going as fast as you could and then you'd fling yourself on to the hot, dirty surface and ride it until it stopped - eyes closed, head bobbing around, stomach reeling - it was pure joy.

When I was a kid, the playground was not the reason we were at the park, either. We were at the park because of some family function. Probably a picnic or a BBQ and the reason I was at the playground was because I bugged my parents until one of them said "go play"... and I did.

Sometimes my dad and older sister would play tennis at one of our local parks and I'd go along just to play on the playground. I would walk unsupervised to a playground in this park that was so surrounded by trees and foliage that no one would have ever seen if I had been kidnapped.  I would swing and slide and merry-go-round, usually without an adult in sight, for as long as I could.  And then my dad would take us all to go get a Polar Cup.

You wish you could have a Polar Cup right now.

But I have digressed.

I survived merry-go-rounds and rusty geodesic domes and broken slides and playgrounds where no adult was present. Because I wasn't an idiot. I knew that I could get hurt so I didn't do stupid stuff that would get me hurt. I didn't try to surf the merry-go-round by standing on the handrails and telling another kid to spin it. Other kids did, I watched one break his arm once. We all learned a valuable lesson that day.

But now our kids play on cushioned playgrounds coated with nerf and rubber. There are no sharp edges and no rusty nails and no surfaces that will burn their precious skin. Our homes are baby proofed and our lids are child proofed and our 5 year-olds are riding to kindergarten in car seats.

Every 12 year old has a cell phone and we'd rather they stay inside playing video games after school than ride their bikes to the neighborhood park without us watching their every move. We hover and fret and if they fall we're right there to pick them up and dust them off and kiss their booboos.

And they're growing up to be wimps.

But if you try to fight it, if you try to let your kids have that freedom to learn and grow and fall down and pick themselves up, you're shamed and judged. Or worse, some other parent does it for you. As if the worst thing in the world is my 10 year-old out riding his bike while I'm at home folding his laundry.

It's time to cut the umbilical cord and let our babies go, y'all.


The Virtuous Girl said...[Reply to comment]

Oh, the good old days. I'm so glad we survived and I do think that we are much more confident and more aware adults because of our youthful independence and near death (I mean fun-filled) experiences.

BTW -- I really do want a Polar Cup right now :)