The Playground of Life w/Podcast

Podcast here

When I was in elementary school we had recess every day and if it wasn’t raining we’d go outside and play on the playground. If it was raining we’d go into the PE room and play games, usually a game called bombardment where we’d divide into two groups and line up facing each other and throw balls at each other across the room . The teacher would blow the whistle and we’d all run forward to pick up the balls that were on the floor in the middle of the two teams. Then we’d run back as fast as possible, turn around and look for our target . If you got hit by a ball you were out and had to sit down and watch . The game went on until the last person was out which could take awhile because the last two people were usually very good at avoiding getting hit . I think teachers loved that game . I know most of the aggressive kids did . Some kids thought it was dumb and would get hit on purpose so they could sit down and talk with their friends. I don’t know if bombardment is even allowed anymore , but I hope it is because kids need to play games to get ready for real life .

Recess was supposed to be a break time to move around, burn off some energy and relax before getting back to learning . I’m sure my teachers hoped I would burn off some energy because I was always moving and talking in class . For most kids, I think recess was the best part of the school day or at least near the top of the list . It was a time to see your friends and talk and play and join cliques and have club meetings and gossip and form crushes on boys or girls, all while getting some sunshine and fresh air and exercise . Of course this was in the early 70’s so life was much simpler.

Our playground was definitely not safe according to today’s standards! Kids were expected to have some sense of self-preservation and not do unsafe tricks or stunts. I think we had some gravel around some of the equipment , but not all, and everything was made of metal that got as hot as a cast iron skillet on sunny days. We learned quickly to check the slide temperature before going down. Today’s playgrounds look so different , mostly made of colorful plastic or wooden structures and with softer surfaces to fall onto .

I can still picture the playground in my mind. We had a few swing sets that were very tall with very long chains and hard rubber seats . I do remember the era of head-busting wooden swings , but I don’t think our playground ever had those . We would callous our hands trying to climb up the metal swing set legs, and also jump off the swings trying to fly as far as possible when we were up high in the air . Swinging is actually a very good activity for kids with various learning problems and other issues, and it’s great exercise. But I digress . Also on the playground we had two or three high metal slides . We were not supposed to run up the slide, but of course we all wanted to do that! One of the slides was so high that I remember feeling a little scared to climb that ladder, foreshadowing my fear of heights that increased later in life. I still have dreams about those slides .

We also had a set or two of monkey bars that was an upside down U-shaped ladder like metal structure that you crossed using your hands and which required some strength, and another climbing apparatus whose name escapes me at the moment but it was like a cage with metal bars all connected and you’d climb all over it and through it and if you were brave you would go to the top . We sometimes played a games called “keep away” on that climbing thing .

Anyway the piece of equipment that I want to discuss today is the one you rarely see on playgrounds today , too dangerous I guess. I’m talking about the big classic type of seesaw. The kind that if you’re on it with someone and they hop off , you’re going to come crashing down and it’s not going to hurt. I’m sure some of my readers know what I’m talking about! Not only that but these seesaws were so long that the kid that was in the air was way up there! You had better hold on tight because if you fell off backwards you could break something. Sometimes we’d get two or more kids sitting on each side . The seesaw was also good at teaching about weights and balances because if your best friend , or mom, weighed more than you , you’d have trouble so you’d need extra kids .

So what is so interesting about a seesaw? Well if you had a seesaw that was made of a wooden board you could walk up it like a ramp . Of course once you got past the center fulcrum the board would tilt and you’d be going downhill. That was the fun part , trying to control the tilt by balancing with your weight . Or you could just climb on at the center point and stand in the middle with one foot on each side to make it balance and if you put more weight on one foot it would start to go down on that side . Great exercise and quite a challenge.

I was thinking about seesaws today while I was running and listening to a podcast about how people tend to choose a side and see things as black and white when actual most of the time things are more nuanced. If we think of God as being the center or fulcrum of the seesaw , then we can see that either end of the seesaw is equally far away from God.

But what is the seesaw ? It can be many things that people debate and argue and struggle over , such as law and works , holding on to traditions versus seeking change , community versus individuality , public versus private rights, really anything that can be believed or pursued can be taken to one extreme or the other to the detriment of your life or society . What usually happens is that people are not happy with the way things are so they come up with a plan, this is like climbing the seesaw, they start to see things change and improve when they are in the middle of the seesaw and it’s balanced . But then what usually happens is they keep working on that problem past the point of productivity and they start to tip the seesaw down . They might try to balance it bringing in more people on their side to keep it from tipping down but eventually either the whole seesaw breaks from the weight of too many programs or everyone ends up on the downside and it comes down , boom! Sounds similar to what happens with our economy, huh? Up and down , up and down with few periods of stability.

This is just the nature of the world we live in for now and it won’t ever be balanced until Jesus comes back and establishes his kingdom . But until then Christians should stick close to the middle of the seesaw by staying true to God’s teachings and showing the world that God offers his mercy and forgiveness to them , through our example of showing love and mercy to those in need . And everyone needs Jesus . Play with the lonely kids on the playground and share your lunch with them. And teach your kids to do the same and they will be blessed .


  1. When I was in elementary school we had one of those steel jungle jim structures.
    I often wondered how no one lost their teeth or broke an arm.
    We had one back injury but I don’t recall it being very serious. But when you are 10 you can walk away from just about anything!

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