Wooden

adjective

\WOOD-un\

Definition

made or consisting of wood;

lacking ease or flexibility : awkwardly stiff

My elementary school playground was a splinter palace. Our wooden, monolithic jungle gym decorated the entire front façade of the school, an obvious remnant from the yesteryears of the school’s original construction. Thinking about it now, I’m always shocked that anyone would think it was kosher to let small children frolic around on such an edifice. On a daily basis, shards of wood would get lodged and shoved into various appendages of children. I specifically remember the removal of a half-foot-long splinter in my thumb being a rather pedestrian procedure at the nurse’s office, without even a congratulatory Dora the Explorer bandage at the end.

Despite its rather treacherous nature, the playground remained the hotspot of pre-k socialization for my friends and me. It was a place free of adult preconceptions and rigidity. Perhaps it was the closest we would ever get to a state of nature, and I often feel nostalgic about the simplicity of it.

For example, an entire friendship cycle could take place on the playground within the span of a few minutes. My best friend Andrew and I had a rather turbulent dynamic when it came to our time at recess. We would enter as friends everyday, only to soon degenerate into enemies once Andrew dared to play with anyone besides me. I would have sought therapy at that time if I knew what the concept of foreshadowing was, but I digress. The end of every recess always resulted in a make-up, through a direct affirmation of our reinstated friendship. No furtive coercion, apologetic gifts or subversive grudges commonplace in adult interactions ever made appearances. I definitely believe the world would undoubtedly be a better place if “I’m sorry” balloons on a stick ceased to exist.

I also feel like everyone needs a quality playground monitor in their life. Windbreaker, white New Balances and megaphone in hand, Ms. Buchanan was always at the ready to chastise anyone who forgot to follow common schoolyard etiquette. The other night, when it was 4 a.m. and I was still studying for my history exam, it may have been nice to have someone with a megaphone remind me that I was breaking the rules of having some semblance of a healthy mental state. Or adequate social life. She also always checked our outfit appropriateness during the winter, which I also need nowadays to tell me if my outfit is looking all kinds of a mess.

But alas, like all good things, the unrestricted joy of playground life came to an end in the third grade via alarming emotional corruption. I had developed an affinity for throwing chips at the heads of certain girls throughout recess. Through the meddling of a teaching assistant, said girls came to the conclusion that I was harboring feelings of young love. I really just liked throwing things at people, but soon the drama of a grade school love triangle had arisen.

So the moral is to first let kids be and enjoy their paradise of naiveté before the corruption of adulthood, and second, deny all of your problems by behaving like a child again now. Cheers.


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