Friday, 7 June 2013

Release Me

When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time at local playgrounds climbing, playing and exploring.  By the time I was 11 or 12 that stopped being cool, so I spent time "hanging out" at the playground with my friends while we giggled and pretended to watch our middle school crushes play baseball.*  By high school it became somewhere to loiter before curfew when there was nothing else to do at 10pm at night in Etobicoke.**

Somewhere around the time that I entered the world of university (i.e. was legal to drink) playgrounds disappeared from my world.  Fast forward 10 years to when Chris and I were house hunting.  We were immediately charmed by the little parkette on the street where we eventually bought our house.  Maybe it was my 30 year old womb whispering to me, but something about this quaint little park filled with a sand box and toys made me feel like this would be a great home for starting a family.

Now that the minions are full fledged toddlers we spend a lot of time exploring local playgrounds and since my sabbatical from climbers I've noticed a major change*** in playgrounds.  Some time over the past 15 years or so, at least in the city of Toronto, playgrounds have become old toy recycling depots/ dumping grounds.

Most play areas we go to feature climbing structures as well as well weathered and pre-loved dump trucks, buckets, cars and other abandoned treats.  Sometimes it's as if we've stumbled into the island of lost toys.  So far, for the most part this provides extra activities to occupy toddler hands while momma sips on her latte, however there are also some issues:

  • Because there is a glut of abandoned goods my children think that any toys on the playground are fair game and will steal toys from children who have genuinely brought their own personal property to the park.****
  • Some of these toys are getting pretty gross and rotten from the rain.  I often wonder if there is some sort of rule about responsible parents throwing out rotting plastic toys at the park.  I have now decided that I will actively pursue and throw out sharp spikey weapons created by shards of plastic from deserted toys.
  • Goodwill called, they want to know where all of their toy donations went.

Any other thoughts on the evolution of playground into toy graveyard, junkyard?

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*Grade 7's answer to Zack Morris, I'm talking about you.
**Where else are you going to make out with your grade 10 boyfriend if both of you don't have your driver's licenses yet?
***Beyond the rubberized anti-Darwinism floors to protect soft children skulls.
****They're also toddlers, so this "mine" game might happen anyway.

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