Since working in elementary schools the past year and a half, I’ve noticed a serious change in playground equipment at schools. When I was in elementary school we had big teeter-totters, swings, and those spinny things that you push and then hold on for dear life as it turns. But it seems like parents and school administrators think these things are now too dangerous for their little darlings, and they’ve come up with new-fangled playground toys to replace the old medieval torture tools.
Hamburger Jail vs. Rocket Cage
Remember these hamburger jails? I admit, I never had one at my school, but I did play on them at McDonald’s. I haven’t seen one of these in years. Instead, they’re being replaced with things like this giant rocket. I will confess that the rocket is pretty cool, but, how can one grow up to be a fully functioning adult without getting stuck inside a huge hamburger? There’s so much space in that rocket that there’s no possible fear of entrapment. That was the thrill of the hamburger! Crawling up that tiny tube ladder and looking through those bars while you’re freedom of movement was seriously restricted by the arc of the bun. I feel like the rocket is more conducive to child meditation than traumatization. That’s why I have to go with the hamburger.
Merry-Go-Round vs. Bowl
This was my hands-down favorite thing on the playground. Oh my gosh, when I got going you had better have been holding on with both hands and both legs cause you’d fly off it you weren’t. Where else do you have the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be inside a tornado, without actually being in a tornado? These big blue plastic bowl things are terrible. There’s one at my school now and I just shake my head every time I see the kids on it. It doesn’t go fast and there’s no way you can fall out. Even if you did fall out, you’re going so slow you’d have plenty of time to catch yourself before you break your face. Kids these days need to know how to protect themselves and feel the wind in they’re hair. They just aren’t getting that skill with today’s playground toys.
Teeter Toter vs. Plane Sculpture
I just don’t understand this plane teeter toter thing. The old school version is awesome. You could go super high, catapult someone, decapitate a passer-by, etc. This new plane thing and others like it is dumb. Look at those kids. They’re hardly even off the ground. I guess it’s safe or whatever, but anyone over the age of three and a half can’t really have any fun on it.
Swing Set vs. Tire Swing
This one really surprised me. Last August I walk onto a playground and realized something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a definite void. And then it hit me. THERE WERE NO SWINGS. NO SWINGS. There were a couple of tire swings, but who wants a tire swing when you can have a regular swing? The only thing you can do on a tire swing is spin really fast with the help of a friend. But on a regular swing you can do so much more! You can also spin really fast by twisting the chain up to the tip top, you can swing super duper high and tempt fate by almost going over the crossbar, you can swing on your stomach, and of course, you can JUMP OFF of the swing. Seriously, what’s a childhood without a good ole’ fashioned jumping competition? And those chains? These kids today don’t know what blisters on your hand or getting your flesh stuck in a chain feels like. Poor things. They don’t know what they’re missing.
My point is that although this new playground equipment is safe and colorful, it isn’t nearly as fun as the old stuff. Parents and administrators need to channel their inner child and go with what they loved when they were kids, and not with what will protect the already entitled generation.