As the father of a two-year old, I’ve spent a lot of time in playgrounds the past couple of years. But I am amazed I never really noticed until recently that there weren’t any more seesaws. I only really had to think about it for about a second and realized that the lawyers had won again. A little research on the Internet confirmed my suspicions. The New York Times wrote last year that

Fear of litigation led New York City officials to remove seesaws, merry-go-rounds and the ropes that young Tarzans used to swing from one platform to another. Letting children swing on tires became taboo because of fears that the heavy swings could bang into a child.

This isn’t just a New York issue, but a national one. The article goes on to say

The old tall jungle gyms and slides disappeared from most American playgrounds across the country in recent decades because of parental concerns, federal guidelines, new safety standards set by manufacturers and — the most frequently cited factor — fear of lawsuits.

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture how a child might get hurt on a seesaw. I’ve seen more that a few close calls with toddlers walking too close to the swings. But that’s not a product liability issue just poor parenting, so I guess the swings should be safe for a little while longer.

When I was going to elementary school in New York City in the 70s my parents let me take the city bus alone to school starting in the second grade. I think the first milk carton kid put an end to that. But do we really need to make sure everything is so safe for our kids? The playground always seemed liked a little oasis in a crazy world.

The last sport I would want The Kid to play these days is football because of worries over concussions. So maybe I am as guilty as the next parent for wanting to shelter our kids so harm could come to them. But risk taking and the thrill of physical accomplishments seem to be critical aspects of childhood and growing up to be a well adjusted adult. Hopefully I’ll be brave enough to let my son take his own risks in the years ahead.





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2 Responses to Where Have all the Seesaws Gone?

  1. Greg Head says:

    Yes, I now have a 3 and a 2 year old. I have been thinking of buying or making a seesaw.

    This country is becoming very whimpy, to put it nicely and I refuse to let my sons miss out because of it.

    Did your son start football yet?

  2. Mark says:

    Just with his Nerf football.

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