Playing up playgrounds

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I miss playgrounds. Not just because playgrounds symbolize a carefree, joyous attitude toward life, but also because when I was a kid, I could cross the monkey bars without having vertigo.

Now, the only thing I do well on playgrounds is warm up the benches. I keep my seat better than members of Congress.

Speaking of government: when I was in elementary school, we had the sort of high-tech playground equipment that would put the CIA to shame.

We had jungle gyms, swings, and what us kids called a glider. That was a bar shaped like an upside-down staple.

It slotted into a track above our heads. The track connected two platforms and ran five feet or so above the ground.

You’d stand on one platform, grab the glider, kick off, and… well, glide to another platform. Then you could turn around, kick off again, and glide back to where you started.

We all took turns on the glider because we were nice and polite and well-behaved. Also because if you hogged it, you’d get smacked.

I loved the glider. It was terrific. It was fantastic. One day a girl broke her pinky on it. It was great.

Then it was torn down to make way for a new school wing, which my district said would serve another 100 children. If it was up to me, I’d have sent the kids back and kept the glider.

But losing one part of our playground was only the beginning.

When we—here I am talking about our sparkling, original cohort, and not those 100 other kids who were exactly like us—got to middle school, we were in for a shock.

No glider. No playground. No nothing, unless you counted an empty plastic bottle or two, and I didn’t.

The lunch supervisor pointed out the blacktop to me. “This is a nice piece of asphalt,” he said. “It’s a prime location for skinned knees, sunburns, and class-A boredom.”

He didn’t sell me on it. But what could I do? All of a sudden, I and dozens of kids like me had grown up.

As a society, we have agreed that once you pass a certain age, you will never feel joy again.

There is one exception: when you lift the paper from the bottom of a confectionary box and discover there’s another layer of chocolates underneath. That makes anyone happy.

Beyond that, opportunities for fun come few and far between for grown-ups.

However, recently I learned that there are buildings with slides and climbing walls for adults, like Google’s headquarters.

This is because Google has lots of quarters to spare to amuse its employees. My company doesn’t even give me spare time.

Yet I have hope, which you can get on any budget.

I hope I can help others feel joy. I hope the bench I’m sitting on doesn’t have gum on it. I hope my school district will tear down the new wing and put up the glider again.

Failing that, I hope this chocolate box has more than one layer.

Copyright 2024 Alexandra Paskhaver, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.