Life on the Playground

Do you ever feel like you’re the least popular kid on the playground? And then realize that you’re actually an adult and try to figure out what the equivalent of a playground is? I wish it was still a playground, that would be infinitely more amusing. I wish they had adult playgrounds without all the explicit sexuality that term could imply. Why do only kids get monkey bars? What happened to tetherball? I feel like yo-yos all got commandeered by parents tired of kids smacking themselves in the face, but what about the other instruments of youth?

Whatever happened to scraped knees smothered in smiles? Or magic kisses that could make any boo-boo feel better? Colorful super hero bandaids taped to every limb. Whatever happened to that sense of childish play, that feeling of connection with life at its very essence? You know, the kind of life where you could go outside and not care if you got filthy playing in the mud because it was your mom who had to do the laundry and clean up the mess because you were too little to understand a washing machine? You know, the kind of life where you got stopped outside the door and hosed off and took off your shoes before you were allowed to sprint up to the bathtub as long as you promised not to touch anything on the way?

I’m talking about that messy, gritty, real, I-don’t-give-a-crap-if-I’m-humiliating-my-mom-in-public-by-throwing-a-temper-tantrum-I-want-a-candy-bar kind of living? At what point do we bottle it all up and sit on it, like an overstuffed suitcase that we can’t get to zip? At what point do emotions become the enemy? At one point do people become the enemy? At what point do we learn what it means to make a mess and stop doing it because we don’t want another thing to clean and we realize that life can be messy enough. At what point do you feel hurt so many times and disappointed so many times by life that you just sit down and let it whip you?

The hardest part about growing older is trying not to succumb to cynicism. Some days, that can be quite an uphill battle.


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