Every day I walk by a park filled with children. I’d never really taken noticed it; It’s hidden with trees, my offspring have outgrown park activities, and it’s eerily quiet. This is the activity that caught my undivided attention as I walked past.
He’s feverishly sawing at a block of wood with a tool the length of his leg. Do you notice the man behind him completely engrossed in something else entirely? This piqued my curiosity as to other inappropriate activities keeping these urchins engaged. I dropped my groceries at the entrance and snooped right on in.
The parents were all sitting in a circle where a campfire far removed kept them at a safe distance from all activities. I wondered where the cooler of beer was hiding? No wonder everyone was so happy- the parents were on one side while the children were on the other.
No one was crying. Strange. A park with no tears?I don’t remember my park days as relaxing. In fact, I remember routinely checking my watch wondering if my stay had sufficiently exhausted the offspring enough to get at least an hour nap in return.
I turned to watch Kato Jr grab the rope swing, commandeer a boat and float across the “river” while two girls swatted at him with a broom. The parents thought that was so cute. Did they really think Kato was a pinata?
Soon bored with that, they took turns attempting to jump the stream on the rope swing which of course ended with all of them “swimming” in the river. Not to worry, a system for spraying down the dirty explorers was in place and soon all three were placed in tubs and squirted down with hoses. It was 50 degrees that day. No one seemed to mind.
Apparently, this river was child-made for I saw its genesis as these kids employed shovels to passionately dig a cascading start on the high ground. I’m sure this creates a great natural water slide as there is a water faucet with hose attachment at the bottom.
When I looked at the play structure below, I couldn’t help but wonder as to where the protective padding had gone? It’s a two-story connector- the most dangerous of all play structures- I don’t think I’d even seen one before. Well- the Japanese are more used to condos than we are, however, some safety please- even the pesky, can’t get them out of your clothes wood chips would be preferable to the HARD, BONE BREAKING GROUND????
Supposedly a climbing apparatus, most kids used this as a 30 degree angle, splinter producing slide for the nether regions which produced plenty of screams from the little ones as they came careening toward the welcoming black tarmac.
Something I thought the parents would be enjoying turned out to be more great fun:
This was not for napping or resting, this was for twirling a kid who was wrapped like an egg roll inside the hammock. The last time I did that, someone was flung out of the hammock and “went to bed crying.” Hummph.
Even more interesting, no parking lot unless you consider the picture below. Not a Suburban in sight.
I think the parents were probably laughing at me. Walking around with my nose up in the air, my attitude “bent out of shape” taking pictures of everyone having a great time while all I could think about was the solution to getting black mud out of clothes. To add insult to injury the park has a motto which reads,”What’s a broken bone if one has crushed the spirit?” attributed to a some mysterious Lady Allen. Clearly this park is not worried about injuries.
The Japanese have been the brunt of much criticism for not allowing children to be children, however, in this park, Huck Finn would have found Heaven. When it rains, a river of muck runs smack dab through the center and the kids swing like monkeys on multiple rope swings through out the park. Real tools allow them to create, dig, and build without breaking a single one. Parents can relax because they aren’t needed as entertainment for their children. Is it the safest place I’ve ever seen? No. Is it the funnest park I’ve ever seen? Hands down yes.
* Note to readers: One of my readers- I’ll call him the Republican- complained that my rants, coverage of the culture issues, and “tidbits from around town” make for interesting reading but he needs more meat as to exactly how we live here- typical- so the next several posts will be reader response. Feel free to send me any questions you would like to see addressed since the Republican has opened Pandora’s box….
I laughed so hard at this. I can totally see that look on your face, like when I was taking pictures of Grace while getting her ears pierced. I’m begining to think “we” are way to strung out and should leave the kids to their own devices. I’m sure that is why the Japanese are much more intelligent by playing on structures like that. They had to use their imagingation. BTW, how many readers do you have now?
My mouth had completely disappeared with judgement- I’m sure I looked like Beaker from the Muppets. Of course then I realized how much fun everyone was having….and of course how creative the kids were allowed to be without interference to your point.
I lost it on the “Kato Jr.” comment! Love that reference! How appropriate!
This was one of my favorite posts. I can so relate to how you were feeling. Only they would have had to take me away in a straight jacket for “redirecting” everyone else’s children from their dangerous activities. I can’t even go to the pool anymore because I am the psycho mom fishing other mom’s kids out of the deep end (they didn’t look like they were old enough to swim over there!!), holding MY breath while some kid swims up for air, basically “helping out” the life guards (we know they are sleeping behind their sunglasses!!!). So pathetic. I think I need an intervention. On the other hand, I do remember asking a 60 year old woman how she lost her thumb. reply “Running with a hatchet as a child”. Humphhh.
I love the comment about taking your kids to the park hoping you’d stayed long enough to exhaust them into a nap. The honesty is refreshinbg. I was telling Riley the other day how one time (when she was about 3) I was trying to grocery shop and she was getting sleepy but I needed to get some errands done and her nap was about to interfere, so I got her a cookie and gave her a couple swigs of my diet coke. Pretty soon she was re-energized, and I was feeling smug- right until she looked up at me with a slanted chocolatey-mouthed grin and hollered “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” at me in the middle of the frozen food aisle. I realized I had gone way too far and now had a sticky little psychopath on my hands. It was a long, long day.
What I would do for the old “When they take a nap- you take a nap”….