Now that spring is around the corner playgrounds will once again be buzzing with activity. It’s been over a year since we moved here and it has taken me this long to get used to the playgrounds. You’ll know what I mean if you visited one. To a kid… it’s the “most awesome” playground ever. To a North American mother… it’s an accident waiting to happen. I come from a land of caution. Where things are padded, protective gear is worn and waivers are signed. Playgrounds are pleasure habitats where kids can be kids and parents can take a break from daily chores to hangout. Kids can yell , scream and play tag, while parents socialize and update their Facebook status. Back in my day I don’t remember parents hovering around supervising and I could probably show you plenty of scars from my childhood thanks to the cushioning of a pavement surface. Times have changed and playgrounds have evolved.
- Snacks. Check.
- Juice. Check.
- Wine… wait…check?
You can drink alcohol in public places here in Austria so technically I could bring a bottle of wine to share with the other mom’s (I know, how great is that?). If this were legal in Canada I can visualize special “lemonade stands” set up next to playgrounds all across the country.
Child: “Daddy look what I found! A worm :)”
Parent: “Hey what do ya know, me too!” <chewing and swallowing with a shutter> Hiccup.
Still haven’t found any mom’s who feels that drinking a glass of wine while watching the kids play is totally ok. I know they’re out there… somewhere.
Ok down to safety. Austrians still build playgrounds using natural elements (which I think is fantastic). Soft ground is provided however, the added safety rails are nowhere to be seen. As a worried mother of two I do understand the “North American attitude” with regards to safety however, as (once upon a time) a child I get how cool it is to test out your balance and coordination on equipment like this.
I’ve only had one “hold my breath” incidence when my son lost his balance at the top of a rope pyramid. Thankfully, due to the multiple cross ropes on the apparatus he ricocheted all the way down before smashing head first into the ground. There’s one thing for sure. Kids do learn quickly. He brushed himself off and climbed back up. Perhaps I worried for nothing?
So for now I join the other European parents & caregivers and urge my kids to explore, challenge and most of all have fun with the equipment they are given. Secretly I still cringe and pray that they don’t come crashing down on their head….again.