The Bard once wrote, “The play's the thing.” And I know he was talking about a theatrical performance and not jumping and running and climbing and sliding. But I'm going to purposefully misinterpret that quote right now and talk about play.
We visited a playground here in Sale, Victoria, Australia. And play, while universally enjoyed by children everywhere (and some adults as well), can have some differences.
First, you don't always see a peacock walking around in your playground.
|What, you think this playground is just for people?|
And sometimes a peacock has to show off.
|Look at me! Look at me!|
Sometimes on playgrounds you have competitions, right? Well, so do the peacocks.
|Here's his rival|
And why do they do it? All in the hopes that their women might notice them.
|Unimpressed with the ostentation|
|On the run|
Like the peacocks, I too must put on my courtship display to garner Alrica's attention. Here I am playing the xylophone to demonstrate my suitability for her.
|I assure you, melodic sounds ensue|
Actually the xylophone on the playground is unusual in the tones it produces. While it does have eight different notes that it can play, it does not make a major scale. I'm not sure what scale it produced.
|Do re mi? That would be too easy.|
There were other unusual sights on the playground. Instead of seesaws, there were these seats hung from a vertical that would bounce up and down.
|Talk about verticality|
The kids climbed into this spin capsule. It's kind of like the tea cups ride at an amusement park. You pull on the disc in the middle and the capsule spins around.
|Not dizzy yet|
You know the bouncy seats on a big metal spring. Often they look like race cars or frogs or other vehicles or animals. Well, the same was true here. There was a frog one and a turtle one. But there was also this: An echidna!
|Go with what you know, right?|
Educational sidenote: An echidna is also called a spiny anteater. It is one of the two species of monotremes.
Educational sidenote sidenote: A monotreme is an egg laying mammal.
Educational frontnote (because why should sides get all the notes): The other monotreme species is the platypus.
Another fun item at the playground that we don't see at home was this zip line.
|Posing while zooming by. Isn't that multitasking?|
You pull the seat uphill, hop on the seat, and zip line down to the other end.
One final, very cool, difference, but one that we did not personally enjoy: A swing designed for a wheelchair.
|This is a great idea|
Not everything was different than playgrounds in the United States. Similarities include: swings, spinners, mulch, and helicopter parents.
I've mentioned in other posts how in many countries parents let their kids have a lot more freedom to play in ways that could potentially hurt them. That's not meant as a bad thing, I think it's great. But here we witnessed total hovering. My kids were playing on a spinner. A small girl came to join them. No problem. But then said small girl's mother was way too worried about the spinner actually spinning while her little girl was on it. I can only imagine that for my kids (who were being very careful with the smaller ones) it did cut down on the fun of that particular piece of playground equipment.
I even got vetted! While we were there, a school group came. They were a prep class. This doesn't mean prep school like it would in the States. It means kindergarten. Anyway, this class of 5 and 6 year olds all in red shirts and red hats comes to play.
I'm standing in front of the big spinner where my kids are playing along with the smaller kids. I think this is what happened. Some of the chaperons of this school group were unhappy about some man they didn't know hanging out near their kids. So they sent one of the fathers who was chaperoning to come and question me. Though at first I didn't know it was an interrogation. I thought he was just being friendly.
“Your kids go to the school?” he asked me. I didn't know which school he was talking about, but I knew the answer was no, so I explained that my kids were homeschooled.
Then he asked if I lived around here. I explained I was visiting. He asked where I was from. I explained that and how we were traveling.
Finally, came the moment that he had a realization which caused me to have one too. At that moment, he noticed the two much bigger kids on the spinner with the kids in red. And he had his realization. “Oh, those are your children?”
“Yes” I answered. And that's when I realized that until that moment I was 'creep at the park' rather than 'good father allowing his children to enjoy play.' After that we had a very pleasant conversation about my family's trip and his ideas of great things to see in the area. Once the need for protection had passed, he was as friendly as could be.
After all, he recognized the need my children would have for play too. Everyone needs some play time. Again, in the somewhat misquoted words of the Bard: All the world's a playground and all the boys and girls (and some of the grown-ups) are merely players.