Geek’ing online. Have the TV on too, watching BBC Breakfast (as you do on a Sunday morning), and a recent clip has just left me cold in disbelief and horror.
I’ve realised that I’ve been living in a remote cave somewhere in outer mongolia for the past 30 years. I couldn’t believe what I was watching – kids don’t PLAY anymore in playgrounds, huh?
The clip was about these little muffins playing ‘dangerously’ in an adventure playground, and how it is a revolution that they can play like this. Play like this? They were doing fuck all, but just jumping from a wooden ledge onto a strategically placed clean mattress! They were making such a big deal of the kids going into spotless tubes, running around, and swinging. I don’t get it…where was the danger in what they were doing? What the hell has happened to kids since I’ve grown up?
I couldn’t see anything which they were doing which resulted in being dangerous – they were just doing normal, and in my opinion boring, stuff which most kids do, right? Wrong…how, I was so wrong.
Boy, things have so changed since back-in-the-day when I was a kid – now that was dangerous, and a lot of fun!
I remember in primary school where the whole playground was concrete – full stop. We couldn’t go onto the ‘grass area’ as it ‘needed time to grow’. This was based in another area within the infants playground, and we could only go on it during the summer – so autumn, winter and spring was basically concrete city! You ran, skipped, danced, and performed on that grey, hard surface. We had metal bars coming off its hinges, and us gymnasts enthusiasts took them as asymmetric bars, which we all ‘performed’ on. Dangerous as fuck, but such fun. I remember thinking I was Nadia Comaneci and Nellie Kim rolled into one, and used to work that metal bar like a crazed kid on crack – was so exciting! We used to fly up in the air, catch it again, backward roll with ‘straight’ legs around those bars – then dismount like a pro – onto frigging concrete – all the time during the x3 breaks we had daily. Fell down countless times with scars, bruises and aches, but never gave up. I only remember one bad injury from a girl in my year named Sharon Wynch who ended up in hospital – and then in the ’80s she made it onto the UK gymnastics team because she was so damn good! That hospital visit didn’t do her any harm.
The boys toilets (which always stank, btw) were right next to the ‘monkey bars’ which you just had to swing and hang on to all lunchtime, if you had nothing better to do, or couldn’t get onto the asymmetric bars due to you coming out to play late for whatever reason. Yeah, you held your breath for most of the time you were swinging due to the stench in that area and nasty damp, but there was no harm in that – we lived!
And not forgetting the man vs food daily dash when it was time to eat. The football pitch was right next door to the lunch hut. To get there, when it was your turn to eat, you had to dodge the flying ball and aggressive players, as the boys never stopped playing whenever anyone wanted to cross over – ever! The thing what got you across was your hunger pains, because after all of that gymnastics you had such energy for food, nothing would stop you from running to that spam and roly-poly pudding! Man, the amount of times people came into the lunch hut battered, bruised and fucked-up was a joke – but we did it.
Oh, and how could I forget the compass stabbing competition in secondary school :) You would take it in turn to have a compass in your hand, and catch the opposition and just stab them continuously (only stopping when blood came out of them, and then it was their turn to chase you!). Those endless days of just being mad while growing up was just priceless.
I feel sorry for kids now – what the hell has gone wrong. Kids ‘need’ to get down and dirty, get injured, get sand in their eyes which makes them blind for a week. They have to fall down so badly, they break a leg, or an arm, or bend a finger – anything! Eat dirt, chuck stones at each other – just enjoy your freedom. It’s a form of growing up and it should be embraced. What shouldn’t be embraced is cuddling kids from the outside world, and encouraging them to just sit in front of a computer at an early age, when they should be developing themselves physically.
Jeez, if I every have a sprog or two, I’d make sure they were as free as possible, to do whatever they liked. They’ll learn right from wrong, and they’ll learn fast, while at the same time enjoying their childhood – their frigging childhood which is just been snatched from them for fear of being injured.
I reckon I probably would get arrested – that’s such bullshit, but I’d take the risk.
The world has gone totally mad, if you ask me…