Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All Work and No Playground

It has been absolutely beautiful outside.  The sun has been shining, there's a pleasant breeze, and the city isn't quite hot enough to start smelling like garbage.  It's rare to say this in New York, but few would disagree: the weather has been perfect.

Ever since becoming a parent, this has been "prison break" time.  No longer are we cornered in our apartment, waiting for the snow/sleet/hail/locusts to subside.  Once spring arrives, we can go outside and do some much-needed time-killing.  And whenever I start thinking, "what on earth am I going to do with this hyper-crazy child?" there's always a fail-safe option: the playground!

My son loves the playground.  He loves the swings.  He loves the bouncy bridge.  He loves the slide.  He loves the dead leaves and worms lying around.  He loves just running around and being carefree.  I love watching him have fun without draining my own energy.  It would be better, however, if the playground had a mini-bar.  Despite its imperfections, I had been a huge fan of my son's favorite playground, especially since it's just a couple blocks from my home.  It would be no problem to take Kyle there quickly whenever I needed to eat up a half-hour or so of time.

Not anymore.  Kyle is no longer welcome there:

Nor is any other kid, in fact.  As part of Mike Bloomberg's "Kids Have It Too Easy These Days" initiative, the local playground has been shut down and boxed in by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire.  Angry, hungry rottweilers patrol the grounds to prevent any toddlers from wandering in, and the city plans to build a moat once it raises enough money from laying off thousands of teachers.  With the children kept out, workers can demolish the playground and build a casino there.

(Above: Some of the city's renovations,
including the new "slide that goes nowhere")
Okay, that's not entirely the truth.  The city is actually renovating the playground, which would be great if I still thought we'd be living here when it's finally complete.  The way these public works things go, both my kids could be college graduates by time this is done, and that would mean they'd look funny going down the children's slide.  So, basically, we lost our playground.

Let me clarify that: we've lost our very close playground.  We live in a neighborhood that has more playgrounds than bagel shops, which is quite impressive considering this is New York.  Two other playgrounds are just ten-minute walks away, so they're not incredibly far.  But I can't just "pop" over there if Kyle wakes from his nap early and starts playing "fling the cookbooks."  Yes, I am grateful to still have several playgrounds around, as my suburbanite friends don't have such luxuries within walking distance.  Then again, my suburbanite friends have yards.

Oh well, I suppose I could deal with it.  We'll adjust.  This has been a big year of change anyway.  Some things, like the new car, have already happened.  Other things, such as the big baby arrival next month, loom ahead of us.  In the grand scheme of things, I suppose losing a playground isn't a big deal, even if I'll miss it.  So what if I lose my go-to time-killer spot?   There are others around, and I could always resort to putting him in front of the TV a little longer.  And so what if Kyle loses his first playground?  Things change.  Besides, he probably was spoiled having it close-by anyway.  Kyle really should work for his fun.  Kids have it too easy these days.

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