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Playing Around

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Remember our childhood playgrounds? I thought them the closest thing to heaven on earth. Even with a swing set and sandbox in my backyard, I liked the playground swings best. They flew higher and there were many so I could swing with a friend.

I loved to flirt with the sky by “pumping” to get the swing to arc higher and higher. There were two methods: the sitting pump, which involved leaning backward on the back swing and kicking my legs out on the upswing. The serious pumpers stood up in the swing and accelerated the arc by bending their knees. Sometimes I even stood up behind a friend on the same swing—a daring move.

And those slides! They were long with humps on the way down, and I sat on a sheet of waxed paper too while sliding. It increased the speed, but on a really hot day (and there were plenty of them in southern Indiana,) the wax would begin to melt.

My favorite was the merry-go-round. I’m not talking about the fancy kind with music and pretty horses. I mean the “kid-powered” version. I liked it because I could make it go as fast or as slow as I wanted by pushing the ground with my outside foot. The real daredevils of the playground jumped off while it was still spinning.

I liked the teeter-totter, too, called a seesaw by the more sophisticated crowd. I always tried to find someone of equal weight to “teeter” with. Otherwise, I was either stuck on the ground all the time or dangling in the air constantly. And of course, there was always the “mean kid” who jumped off the seat on the ground, so I came crashing down.

My playground nemesis was the Jungle Gym. I wasn’t much of a climber and hanging upside down, as my playmates loved, might be fine for possums, but not for me.

And playground etiquette dictated that a girl never climbed wearing a skirt. You know the old rhyme: “I see London, I see France. I see Carol’s underpants!” Total embarrassment! But anyone dumb enough to climb wearing a skirt probably deserved it.

Unfortunately, our grandchildren may never know the joy and freedom we did. Much of the equipment has long-since been deemed unsafe, even though we all survived it.

Maybe some clever video designer will create a virtual playground, so kids won’t even have to leave their houses to play. There’s probably already one out there. My grandkids say I’m hopelessly Old School.


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