I spend an inordinate amount of time playing in and thinking about playgrounds. It’s a self-professed weakness. In fact, playgrounds have become the hobby I never had (I’m not counting the long derelict dalliance with philately). Like all of us with a keen hobby interest, I can go overboard by times, you know a little obsessed. For example, wondering how census data can benefit the world from a playground perspective, or maybe thinking about the origin of the slide….
Most of the activity and time revolve around the two blogs I write on the subject – to wit PlayGroundology and PlayGround Chronicles. I’m constantly being surprised and learning something I didn’t know the day before.
In one of those contemplative playground moments over the last few days, I thought of how adults spend very little time in playgrounds unaccompanied by children. In some jurisdictions, this can be a very smart approach as a lone adult can set off alarm bells, warranted or not. I thought it would be great if Mélanie, my love of seven years, and I spent some quality time at a playground without the kids. I hope we’ll get to do so in a couple of Sorel’s fun playgrounds sometime over the summer.
Then I thought of a new acquaintance – Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids. She came up with a fine challenge that created quite a media furor last week in the US. It was all about her ‘Take the Kids to the Park… and Leave Them There Day’ campaign. When I was a kid, that happened all the time. Have times changed that much?
I think it’s fair to say that some hysteria followed Lenore’s campaign launch so to speak. Bravo Lenore, let’s make sure that common sense prevails. I’ll be speaking with Lenore later in the week and will post about it here at PlayGroundology. I’m looking forward to our conversation and I encourage you to check out her site.
So Lenore’s hard work on her campaign and my ponderings bring you:
The Adults Only, Two is Better than One, Playground Challenge
Now I don’t know how old you are and the beauty of it is, I don’t think it really matters. Other than this is an adults only challenge. Nothing suspect here, just a few tick tock moments to get in touch with the wonder of kid movement. No primal screaming required, no outlay of money. Just a little time and perhaps a temporary bon voyage to self-consciousness.
Here’s your mission – go with the one you love (or a good friend) to the neighbourhood playground, or any other playground, after hours when the kids who usually hang out there have all gone home. Early morning is good too as the sun starts its daily sweep.
Give your love a push on the swing. Climb up the slide and zip down one after the other. If you’re lucky enough to come across a merry-go-round, hop on and spin yourselves silly until your eyes see new galaxies in the night sky. Make like simians and swing toward each other until you can no longer keep your grip on the monkey bars and drop back to earth with the thud of gravity. Then run. Run like lightening. Run like you’re trying to catch fast man Bolt just for the fun of it.
Take a break. You might want to reduce your heart rate. Do you remember what it was like to play as a kid? Does your body remember? This is the kind of reminding we probably just can’t get enough of, the kind that can bring a wistful smile to our faces and a renewed appreciation of the importance of play for ourselves and all the kids out there.
I plan to take the challenge soon. I play frequently with our kids at playgrounds all around the city we live in – Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have a sense though that it will be different with my love Mélanie. I’ll write a few words about our experience.
Now all you self-identified adults – get out there and have yourselves some playgrounding moments…..
I’d love to hear from readers who give this a try. Challenge your neighbours and friends to give it a whirl. There’s sure to be some smiles in it and maybe an aching muscle or two.