Whatever happened to …

… bruises and skinned knees?

It’s a topic near and dear to my wife’s heart.  We visit a lot of public places walking the dog.  (We enjoy the variety, I don’t know if he appreciates it or not)

Typically, on one of these outings, the conversation will turn to the playground equipment that is available for kids to play with.  Or, more vehemently, the equipment that isn’t there.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to the good old days when we were in elementary school.  We had it all.  Swings, baseball diamonds where you ran from school at recess to be the first to tag up to hit, teeter-totters, slides, and so much more.

Swings were fun because you’d get them going as high as you could and then jump off onto the dirt to see how far you could roll.  Or teeter-totters were you would do the “bumps” to see if you could knock the other person off.

Photo Credit: PINOY PHOTOGRAPHER Flickr via Compfight cc

Our principal form of transportation were our bikes.  When we rode to school, we would hook the handlebars over the long metal rack.  You know the ones that you licked in the winter to see if teachers were right about your tongue sticking to it?  Nobody had a lock and chain; in fact the first one that I ever remembered owning was when I went to university.  You just trusted everyone and I don’t ever recall anyone “stealing” my bike.

Many of these activities included the opportunity to fall and hurt ourselves.  It happened all the time but you just got up and dusted yourself off.  You didn’t want anyone seeing you crying and it took an arm or a leg that pointed in funny directions to get you to go to the nurse’s office.

So much of this is now gone.  The only teeter-totter that we can remember is one that sits in the school yard of a long-since closed school.  The metal swings and slides that we remember are now composed of bright colours, made from plastic, and they’re very small, obviously geared to the younger kids.

How about you?  What are your thoughts for this Sunday?

  • Do you recall the old “playgrounds of death” that are now just a memory?
  • Do you remember where your mother kept the mercurochrome?  Can you even buy it these days?
  • Did you bike to school?  Did you have a need to chain your bike?
  • Have we put today’s youth in a bubble to protect themselves from damage during recess and weekends or have we come to the realization that the good ol’ days were just outright dangerous?

We’d enjoy reading your thoughts via comment below?

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Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Doug, you just highlighted another reason that I love our forest play and outdoor learning time each day. We may not be going to the playground (we have one at our school, but we don’t use it), but we spend at least 1 hour and 20 minutes outside every single day. As the kids run through the woods and manipulate their ways around the trees, they fall down and get a few scratches, but they just bounce back up and move again. They start to support each other. It’s amazing to see the kids rubbing another child’s back to help stop the flow of a few tears or even picking burrs off a friend that may have walked into a burr bush. On Friday, we had teachers visiting from another school, and one of them walked right into a bush of burrs. No problem. The Kindergarteners helped her pick them all off. They even found a few that she couldn’t see. So thoughtful and kind, and such independent problem solving!

    As for teetertotters, we don’t have one, but every year, multiple children make one out of a tree stump and a piece of wood. They love to experiment with how high up and down they can go, and if they can balance it. And when this teetertotter breaks, they just try again.

    It makes me incredibly happy to see that this play (along with a few bumps and bruises) are not gone quite yet. And compared to some past teaching experiences when children are constantly asking for ice or a bandaid for the smallest scratch, I rarely hear these mutterings now. There’s something to be said for helping kids deal calmly with the bumps and bruises that come from the fun of life! I hope that more kids out there get these experiences. I feel so fortunate to work in a school with the resources and teacher, admin, and parent support that makes this kind of play possible!


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  2. We had the teeter totter, swings, slides, and that instrument of death and vomit…the round about! We played with lawn darts and games like Full contact British bulldog. Most of us survived unscathed into adulthood. One accident prone buddy had a few scars, but he liked to swing on a rope hung from the barn rafters into the straw pile… he was a wild risk taker! He still tells me “chicks dig scars”. I’m not sure if the changes in playgrounds are driven by safety or fear of lawsuits. I’m sure modern playgrounds are much safer. But, man we had us some fun times on those ‘death traps’.


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