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Life Lessons from the Playground


Today was a beautiful day here in Pittsburgh. It was a little over 70° and the sun was shining bright. It was the perfect day for the park.  I took my boys out for a day of outside time. First, we went to the baseball field where we took turns batting and fielding the ball. My three year old only wanted to bat, because that was the most fun, but he had to field if he wanted to bat.He tried to argue that he was just three years old, so he shouldn’t have to catch it. I made him do it anyway.

After that, we went to the playground. There were lots of kids there, and I watched them all interact from where I was sitting.After just a short time, my thoughts became introspective as they have a tendency to do. You can learn quite a bit sometimes from just sitting quietly, and paying attention.  I watched all the kids crowd around the big sliding board ladder. One by one, they’d go up, and fly down as fast as they could.  Every once in a while, a kid would get to the top, and get scared. Their mom would inevitably have to come and get them down. The big slide opened my eyes the most of any piece of equipment on the playground. It taught me that everyone wants to make it to the top in life, some even badly enough to push their friends out of the way to do it. It taught me that sometimes more than one person in a group can get to the top, but seldom do. It taught me that sometimes, when you finally get to the top, it’s scary and you won’t know what to do. Mostly though, it taught me that it’s less important to worry about climbing,and more important to remember to enjoy the ride.

The swings were pretty busy too. The kids actually had to line up and take turns for all but the one on the end. The ground beneath it had worn a lot lower, so the kid trying to swing didn’t have anyone to help push him. He was doing okay on his own anyway though. Sometimes that’s how it’s going to happen. Sometime in life, you may not have anyone on your side, behind you to push you. You’re going to have to work harder than everyone else to get to the same level they are on. If you try hard enough though, and stick with it, you’re going to be okay.

The jungle gym was a favorite of mine growing up. Apparently it’s not as popular today.There were only a few kids on it today. A pretty big kid with a sleeveless shirt and a mullet was on the top, claiming it for himself. He wasn’t going to let my boys play until he realized I was watching. Suddenly, the “King of the Hill” wanted to find somewhere else to play. Again, that’s the story of life, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at the top of your game, if you get careless with your mouth, someone will come along, and show you the way out.

Finally was the merry-go-round. I know you’re thinking I’m going to say “what goes around comes around” but your wrong. What I learned from that was much more valuable lesson even than that. I watched a kid spin his little brother (not my kids) so fast that his brother fell off and got hurt. I think he may have either sprained or broken his elbow. What I took from that was that regardless who they may be, if you push someone too hard or too fast, you can expect them to fly of the handle unexpectedly, and someone’s gonna get hurt. Possibly badly, even if it is someone you love.

What I took from our day out today:

1.  You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t want to do in life. If you look hard enough to find it, there’ll be an excuse not to do it (“I’m only three years old.”). Go ahead and do it anyway, there’s probably a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.

2.  Don’t be so busy trying to get to the top in life. It isn’t where you’re going that matters. It’s if you’ve enjoyed the ride. Besides, sometimes the top is scary, especially if your mommy can’t help you.

3.  It’s a good idea to learn to push yourself. Get yourself moving, and stay that way. If you can, you might be in a world of your own.

4.  If your fat, mullet sporting, sleeveless shirt wearing freakshow of a kid ever tries to stop my kids from doing something they have a right to do, expect him to come home crying. To state things a bit more diplomatically, sometimes there are obstacles in life. Sometimes they seem insurmountable. Surround yourself with the right people, and even the largest obstacles are not a problem.

5. People do things at the speed we are comfortable with. Going too fast can sometimes cause people you never want to hurt to get hurt. Slow down a bit. Life’s short, but it doesn’t have to be rushed.

And finally…

What goes around comes around. 🙂 You didn’t see that one coming did you?



  1. tinkadele says:

    I like how all of this was deduced from a day spent at the park. Very insightful! 🙂

  2. […] Life Lessons from the Playground (heyjoeonline.com) […]

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