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Playground Betrayal - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Playground Betrayal
Our playground of choice closed just after labor day. Margaret was quite likely the last kid ever to play on it, given that it was full dark and empty when we left. They are renovating it, but goodness knows how long that's going to take. The first week they apparently accomplished nothing other than to paint a few Xs on the ground in orange paint. So, for now at least we are stuck looking for other options, which are not many. Actually, there are two. There is the Tuft's tot lot which is nearby but which is tiny and not all that interesting. There is also a playground on the other side of Davis Square very near chenoameg's place, but while it is very nice, it's about a 30 minute trek by foot. I don't mind on the weekends when I'm happy to devote three hours to a playground outing, but for weeknights it's not so good.

Playground structures apparently come in two age categories. One is designed for kids 2-5 years old, and the other for kids who are 5-12 years old. Obviously I don't strictly observe the age guidelines since way back when I was letting a nine month old climb on the little kids structure at "our" playground, but there is really no way to let a toddler play on the 5-12 year old variety without the sort of hovering that makes the experience less fun for both of us. I consider myself to be laid back, but Margaret still thinks that the force of gravity is naturally countered by the Mommy force, making the bigger kids play structures unsuitable for her just now. There are three other play areas that are closer to us than they playground near chenoameg, but they all only have the 5-12 year old variety of play structure and no 2-5 year old stuff. I'm a little miffed by this (well except for the one that is in a school, toddlers do not attend elementary school). Do people think the 5-12 year old set needs more playground space? In our rather urban area I think not; backyards are tiny and not all of them are good places for swing sets. Given the number of beer cans I've removed from our backyard I have certain misgivings about letting her play there. (No one at our house drinks beer, the cans apparently rain down from the back porches of the surrounding houses, many of which are occupied by Tufts students.) Anyway, the situation is frustrating, and "our" playground can't open fast enough as far as I'm concerned.

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mjperson From: mjperson Date: September 21st, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Orange X's

Indeed, I was thinking of poor Margaret every day I walked by and just saw a bunch of orange X's scattered around the place. They seem to be in full swing now though, with everything torn up and giant piles of boulders appearing and moving around the place randomly.
enugent From: enugent Date: September 21st, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do people think the 5-12 year old set needs more playground space? In our rather urban area I think not; backyards are tiny and not all of them are good places for swing sets.

I'm not sure what this means - if the backyards aren't big enough for the 2-5 year olds, they probably aren't big enough for the 5-12 year olds, either. I do think that the older kids need more playground space (although the school playgrounds are a good way of supplying some "older kid" play space); they tend to play "bigger" than the little kids and need more room for the same number of kids.

Have you checked with local community centers? Even at the ones without a fixed little kid playground, many of the ones around here run a "toddler time" where they put a bunch of the big plastic toddler toys (ride-ons, etc.) in a gym and let them go nuts.

Are there any playgrounds within driving distance that have parking?

I agree that it sucks when your usual option is taken away, especially when your kid is young enough that you can't really explain it to them. Good luck finding alternatives in the interim, and I hope they work fast on the remodel!
psychohist From: psychohist Date: September 21st, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
For what it's worth, the closed playground and the new playground we're going to each have about a third of the space devoted to the 2-5 year olds, and the rest to the 5-12 year olds. For me, it's the fact that, on top of that, there are now five times as many playgrounds for the 5-12 year olds that seems excessive.

Empirically it also seems like there are generally at least an order of magnitude more toddlers as school age kids at these playgrounds, even the playgrounds with equipment only for older kids. I don't know how much of that is demographics, and how much is that the older kids are more likely to be using unfenced parks rather than the fenced playgrounds.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: September 21st, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seems true here, too. More 5-12 playgrounds than the toddler ones. But I have to see my 2 year old prefers the 5-12 playgrounds now, so perhaps the toddler playgrounds are only useful for a really short window?

In general I would say that kids under 5 use the playground more since they aren't in school yet. When I lived in Somerville though, this wasn't the case. I think most of the kids had parents that worked and I never saw anyone in the playgrounds but us. But around here there certainly is a contingent of 5 and under during the day. Although the older kids are often on after school. But it tapers off after 4th or 5th grade as they get more activities and more homework. (then they are using the fields and other things more)

We are supposed to redo our park, and one of the planners said he watched the park for awhile and mostly saw 3 and 4 year olds. Yet at the meeting people were pushing for older kid stuff. (perhaps there parents have more time and savvy to go to the meetings?) But I do think the pattern changes when school is in session and when it is not. But the schools all have playgrounds at the 5-12 level that can be used after hours, so perhaps the parks ought to be more 50-50? We tend to go to the schools to play now instead of our walkable park because they are nicer.

If you ever want to take a trip to visit us again, we do have many toddler playgrounds around.

enugent From: enugent Date: September 22nd, 2009 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting that you see so many more toddlers - I think that there are at least twice as many older kids as younger on average at the parks here. I also agree with jaedian that kids seem to start preferring the "big kid" playground sometime between age 2 and 3. The toddlers also don't seem to get bored with a playground as fast, for what that's worth.

Anyway, I hope you find a convenient place that Margaret likes to play, and that your old playground comes back better than ever.
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: September 21st, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
When you do schlep to my neck of the woods feel free to come by and say hi and/or for a bathroom break (house number=329).

greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: September 23rd, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Will do. I'd considered dropping in before, but was hesitant since the last time I tried turned out to be bad timing. If I drop by before we hit the playground, is there any possibility that you would be interested in joining us?
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: September 23rd, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
(and really, we're perfectly happy to be a bathroom/water stop even if the timing doesn't work out well)

Yes, the walk to the playground is still a reasonable outing for me :)
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