Playing — American style

Benjamin woke up from his nap yesterday absolutely set on “going to the playground”. Not just any playground, but a very specific one near where we used to live in Northern Virginia. (I think he must have had a dream about it during his nap.)

Today, Dan flew back to Vienna, so we left an hour early to take him to the airport and stopped by “the playground” that B wanted to visit. It’s a place we used to go fairly regularly, and going back today, I’m kicking myself for not going more often when it was so convenient.

20120723-235713.jpgIt’s fantastic. All of the surfaces are rubberized, the edges are all smooth and rounded, and there wasn’t a single massive, jagged rock in sight. Other than the possibility of climbing to the top of a slide and falling from a height, there really wasn’t anything to get hurt on at all.

I remember, when B was little, we used to take him to this park and follow immediately behind him as he went from place to place, hovering over him and requiring that he hold our hand on all the stairs. I really can’t remember what we were so worried about, and I can’t remember when we changed, but that’s certainly not who we are anymore. We pretty much let the boys go. We we’re still with them the whole time, but we were playing WITH them, helping when we were needed, and witnessing many feats of strength and bravery from both boys. We were enjoying our shared playtime, not stressing about perceived dangers.

20120723-235926.jpgIt was so much fun. I do really like the relative safety of American playgrounds (especially big, fancy ones like this one). But, we never would have enjoyed and appreciated the freedom it provides without experiencing the alternative. Our kids, too, have been changed by playing in Austria — they both have a confidence and a daring that I hadn’t seen before in this same space.

I like them both, and I think they’re both good for our kids. But for today, it was really fun to relax a little and just play.

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