Slides, swings and fun little tunnels to crawl through. Nothing beats a playground if you’re a small child with a penchant for running away from your mother and climbing on things that help you to grow your gross motor skills. It’s also a bonus if you can raise your mum’s heart rate to the level that generates the growth of grey hair.
Last week I took Banjo and Roxy to a playground by the river in Noosaville. It was idyllic with the glistening sun on the saltwater and plenty of funky slides and spiderwebs to climb through. I had my cousin and aunt there, so surely it would go better than the wind-bitten experiences we have in Stanthorpe. But I didn’t bargain on the steep incline on the biggest slide and when I helped Banjo to the top, I felt a slight reluctance to let him drop down the steep plastic tunnel. Let the kid be a kid, my relaxed side coaxed at my conservative side. I let him go and he raced to the soft-touch bottom with a rather heavy plop. I wasn’t eager to follow, but also didn’t want to give in to a silly slide, so with one last look at the drop that suddenly seemed more daunting a bungee jump, I slid.
My back clanged awkwardly against the slide and with the speed of a fish flipping out of its bowl, I was at the bottom. My elbow brushed against something, although I have no idea which part of the slide tore the skin off my funny bone. Then there was the impact on my left little toe, which already sports an ugly duckling toenail that’s twice the size it ought to be. It copped a beating on the soft-touch material which was about as soft as a brick. I limped away, bleeding slightly from the toe and the elbow, wondering where it had all gone so badly wrong. I used to be able to slide with the wind in my hair and landings that would spark envy in a Qantas pilot. These days my hips are too wide for the non-tunnel slides and the tunnel slides are way too gnarly for my out-of-practice movements.
Perhaps I should stop stressing about the kids hurting themselves at the playgrounds and stay off the slides.
PHOTO: Me before bungee jumping from a suspension bridge in Nepal a few years ago, showing the sort of fear I now reserve for steep slides in children’s playgrounds.