Whenever we went out for a drive with our parents, my sister and I would shout out for them to stop by any playgrounds we saw on the way.
"Look! Swings and things!", we would cry.
Sometimes Dad would stop the car and they'd wait patiently while we slid down hot metal slides with water and leaves and mud at the bottom. Or caught our fingers in the chains holding the swings. Or grazed our hands and/or knees falling off the climbing frames. Or got splinters from the wooden roundabouts.
And then there was Grandad's old hangar at the bottom of his garden. It was a massive, old, metal agricultural shed and it could only be accessed by picking our way gingerly through a mass of stinging nettles, that were as tall as we were. And there, inside, was a piece of old rope attached to one of the metal rafters; strong and well attached, but there was no easy way to reach it.
So my sister, our cousins and I built a platform of old breeze blocks - we didn't have many and so they had to be stacked tall and thin. The platform was as wobbly as a newborn calf! Then we'd climb up the platform and stand on our tip-toes to grab the rope and swing out into the barn and back again. Over and over.
The trick was to know when to stop and head back to the blocks, because if you left it too late you were stranded, hanging, with too big a drop to just go for it. We had scrapes and scratches galore to add to the nettle rashes, but what fun it was!
Such fond memories and an essential part of building friendships and growing up - where would we be without them?
I loved this amazing post (number 980) about fabulous, dangerous playgrounds on the Awesome blog. Some of the comments are pretty awesome too.
And Gever Tulley makes a case for letting kids do some dangerous things in this wonderful TED talk.
Is it really such a shocking idea? It kinda takes the stressful pressure off parents to be perfect and frees them from having to protect their kids from a single bacterium on the kitchen work surface, let alone a splinter from touching a tree.
Children and adults alike need to take risks to grow and have an exciting life. Stepping out of the comfort zone is the thing we should be teaching.
That's where real life is.
"... outstanding in the field of self discovery..."
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