Like most children, my favorite time of the day when I was in elementary school was recess.
There was such anticipation as we all lined up to go outside.
The teacher “shushed” us as we walked down the hallway and headed toward those double doors leading to freedom.
As soon as the doors opened, everybody ran screaming outside ... running full throttle to their favorite recess activity.
Our playground looked much different than what you see today.
We had several slides, one of which was always tall and drew long lines.
We often went down the slide backwards, or with two or three friends at a time.
We ended up piled on top of each other, laughing so hard we didn’t hear the child who was waiting to go down the slide yelling at us to move.
I also loved the swings. Sometimes, the boys would swing, but usually only so they could get going high and jump off.
They would have contests to see who could land the farthest away.
We also had monkey bars. How fun it was to see who could make it all the way across the bars without falling. And, of course, we loved hanging upside down and swinging.
Did an occasional child fall down and break an arm? Yes.
Those children were pretty much celebrities the next day when they came to school with a cast.
We all lined up at recess to sign it, wishing we had been so lucky.
Cast bearers always got special treatment such as a “buddy” to carry their lunch tray.
I was a “buddy” once and felt nearly as important as my injured classmate.
Perhaps the favorite activity on the playground was the merry-go-round. I am not sure why children enjoy being dizzy, but they do.
We loved to sit right in the middle of the merry-go-round and let somebody spin us until we couldn’t take it anymore.
We would then try to walk, always ending up falling to the ground, laughing.
As you may know, our current playgrounds have a much different look and feel.
Many are no more than an area with squares of cushioned flooring to give our children a soft landing if they happen to fall.
I am not really sure how they would fall since there are no monkey bars in sight. Those, apparently, are much too dangerous.
Slides are never like the sky-high ones we once had. Merry-go-rounds are probably outlawed.
Another thing banned from recess today is any kind of organized sport deemed too rough.
When I was growing up, pretty much every day the boys played football.
Did I just hear a gasp from some of my younger readers? These days, even “touch” football is deemed too boisterous.
We used to play kickball, and the game began with the team captains (usually the best players) picking sides. We tossed a coin to see who went first.
I am pretty sure picking sides is also a thing of the past, since we wouldn’t want someone to actually be chosen last.
I don’t think I was ever last, but I was certainly toward the end.
It was no mystery to me why I wasn’t chosen first or even in the top half. I loved kick ball, but was just not a strong kicker or runner.
I never felt like I was less of a person just because I would never be a professional kick ball player.
Children are not stupid. Sometimes, I think we try to shield them from a little thing called reality. But I digress.
I know our schools are protecting our children. And believe me, I am one of the biggest fans of our schools.
We are lucky to have some of the best schools and teachers in the country.
I certainly share their mission to educate our children while also providing a safe place to learn.
I just long for a day when recess was not only an everyday occurrence, but also involved playgrounds that had all of the “toys” of yesteryear.
I suppose every generation looks back at such things and pines for the good old days.