Kids These Days Might Be Missing Out On Seesaws, But The Lessons Of The Playground Remain The Same

We’re on a mission to preserve this hallmark of childhood as much as we can.

Girl Playing On Seesaw At Park
Photo: Teerasak Ainkeaw/EyeEm/Getty

I was 30-something years old when I realized seesaws were a thing of a bygone era.

My mom recently mentioned a seesaw to my son and he stared at her with the blank expression a child gets when he has no earthly idea what a grownup is talking about. I quickly started taking a mental inventory of the many playgrounds we've visited in his six years and didn't recall a single seesaw. It's strange to think that one of the focal points of my childhood playground memories is now no more. While I can't help but feel nostalgic for that squeaky, kind of scary contraption, this new crew of kids who know nothing of it don't appear to be missing out on the important stuff.

The reason why we don't see seesaws on playgrounds anymore seems more a matter of safety than anything else. Apparently, launching kids in the air on a long, hard plank isn't exactly the vision of caution. But, as one whose son got the wind knocked out of him on the playground before, I can say dangers still lurk. My immediate thought was he fell off the monkey bars, but no. Apparently our seesaws have been replaced by something he calls a "swing-around," which is (from what I've gathered) basically a modern version of a merry-go-round.

Other than the swing-around and lack of seesaws, playgrounds appear to have stayed largely the same in the past twenty-plus years save upgraded, non-metal slides and more fall-friendly ground cover. The fact that very few things have changed on the playground (and those that have, only appear due to safety measures) is rather reassuring, if you ask me. In a way, it signals our kids haven't changed much throughout the years and for that I'm grateful.

Technology has certainly done its best to influence just about every aspect of our lives, but on the playground, all bets are off. There's running, and swinging, and still (though perhaps less frequently) bruises and bumps that knock the wind out of the adventurous and daring. It's a place where parents can gather and chat while kids run amuck in the most wholesome of ways. It's the neighborhood cul-de-sac in the middle of a busy city or even smack dab in the center of the church parking lot.

No matter where you are, you're probably never far from one of these havens of the old-fashioned childhood—and the little ones in the backseat will surely let you know when you pass one by on the road. But, regardless of how much or little they've changed over the years, playgrounds preserve some of the best lessons of our own childhoods and hopefully will still do the same for those who know more swing-arounds than seesaws.

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