Tuesday, February 17, 2009
It's no wonder when your 5-year old announces that he wants to "go play at the playground" that a chill runs down your spine and your stomach makes a desperate, last ditch attempt to leave your body. The argument that the playground "is closed" just doesn't work here any more. For kids, at least, the playground is where the action is. It has all the appeal of Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. What happens on the playground stays on the playground.

My parental point of view is a little different. If you've spent any time on the playground at any point in your life, you probably already know that the playground is more like another day in Washington. Conservative against liberals. Special interest groups lobbying for their best deal. Hard core versus the half-hearted.

Anything and everything that is possible will be done by children and witnessed by parents day in and day out. And some things will not be witnessed and that in itself can create an incident of international proportions.

Also, the playground is a very tricky place because that is where parenting differences tend to rear their ugly heads. Parental anarchy. For some parents, it's ok to bring your afternoon class of wine with you and for others it isn't. For some parents, it's ok to sit and watch as your child pushes other children down the slide using his foot (and a swift, but firm, kicking motion). For some parents, it's ok to parent another person's child as if they are their own, no holds barred. For some parents, they just don't know what the heck to do with any of it.

For the kids, the playground is where the politics of childhood happens. It's where the experienced politicians take on the lesser experienced ones and deals are brokered. Play dates. Property swaps. Peace treaties. Propaganda distribution.

When I head to the playground, I don't want to deal with any of this. I never wanted to live in Washington. (Vegas, maybe, but not Washington.) I just want to go and let the kids romp and wear themselves out for bed.

But next time I brave the playground with my kids, I'll try to remember that the playground is not just the venue for play. It's practice for living in the big, bad world. City of lights, city of hope, and city of Justia Omnibus ("Justice for All"). If I don't let them learn it on the playground, they'll have to learn it in the big, bad world.


The Martin Family said...

So, I just realized as I was reading your blog, I was nodding in agreement. I understood where you were coming from, from the parent perspective, and a child's. Uuuggghh, I guess they DO have to learn it somewhere though.

Anna said...

This is why I just keep my kids locked in the dungeon. So much simpler. But please sign me up for this afternoon class of wine.


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