At the Playground


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(There is a reason why it is called children playground instead of fat bum adult’s playground. Image source: http://middleagedmary.blogspot.com/)

Last weekend, I had a damn good workout!

After a long gap, I had a good badminton session with one of the toughest opponent around – my son. Compared to last time, he can now serve and return some of my hits but conditions have to be just right – easy, slow, high shuttlecock. I don’t remember bending down to pick up the shuttlecock that many times in any of the badminton games that I have played before but I did not mind, it was a good workout to reduce the tummy size, so my wife says. We played badminton at the children’s playground where there were others playing badminton, basketball and football, cycling and walking at the same place – the number of kids in the neighborhood must have increased drastically in the last few years (hmm, some parents have been pretty, pretty busy).

It was a good 30 – 40 minutes of badminton before my son pleaded for a “5 minutes” rest which I also needed badly. We played for another 15 minutes before we took that “5 minutes” break. My son ran off to the nearest swing (a couple of buffaloes was sitting on them and refused to budge even though it was meant for children) whilst I walked around the playground and as I walked, I looked around and noticed something.

Despite the recent murder of a 5 years old girl, I was surprised to see many kids (some quite young) at the playground alone without their parents around. Ya sure, it was a gated and secured community (but then again, even gated & secured residential areas are not safe these days) and there were plenty of kids and parents around but still, anything can happen, right? I mean who would have thought a simple trip to the sundry shop to buy noodles & eggs within walking distance from the house would have ended in tragedy.

When we were were kids ourselves in the 1970s – 1980s, we used to play on our own too and without our parents standing next to us. In fact I still remember playing in the neighborhood (which was not gated or secured – most was not back those days) with my friends from morning till night without my parents getting worried. We used take our bicycles and ride around the lonely commercial areas or through dense jungles in remote areas without the need to worry about our safety. But time have changed – based on crime against children these days, it is obvious that the world have just gotten more dangerous.

(Unfortunately not all dogs are lovable and tolerant to small kids especially when the kids is a total stranger – Image source: http://www.thehealthage.com)

Then car stopped by the playground and a middle aged man came out with his young daughter. He then opened the back door and pulled out something – his burly, a large sized dog. It looked mean and nasty and that seemed evident from the thick, strong, thick leash that the man had on the dog’s collar. With his daughter running off with a ball to play, the man led the dog to the playground where a dozen or so kids were running and playing. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. I was kind of worried that the dog may start chasing and biting the small kids or decide to go for “a big dump” which could turn out to be messy (to those who stepped on it).

But instead, the man sat down on the grass with his burly dog by his side. No one ventured closely to them except for one small innocent, curious girl. I knew her father was standing nearby and was keeping a close eye on her. The dog stayed calm enough for the girl to stand next to the dog. The man talked to the small girl but the small girl seemed more interested on the burly dog and inched closer to the dog. The next thing I know, the father came in and took the girl to another side of the playground. I guess he was more afraid of the dog than the stranger and I would have done the same. Some people, it seems do not know when to bring their burly looking pets to places where there are plenty of children running around. And who know what is the state of mind the dog is in – what if it domicile one moment, vicious another?

From the other corner of the playground where a dozen or so kids was playing football, there was a sudden commotion. Instead of playing football, the kids stopped and gathered around two boys – one young and fat facing an older and tall boy. Each of them was shouting at each other although the older one was shouting louder than the younger one. They started with shouting at each other and then they began to push each other with the other kids trying to pull them away from each other. Then all the sudden, the older one (probably in Standard 4 or 5) started to use vulgar words – words that young children should never use or hear. If his parents had heard it, they probably would have whacked the kid to a pulp (although these days, I am not sure it will happen but in the early 1960s to 1980s, parents would not have hesitated to skin you alive for the smallest wrongdoings).

A couple of parents, who were at the playground, looked at the two boys with a sense disbelief and anger. I personally felt like walking towards the kid who uttered the vulgar words and wanted give him a couple of hard slaps on the face. But then the commotion died down – the younger fat kid backed off and walked away, evident that he has more sense and intelligence than the older one.

My son came back from his break although it took longer than 5 minutes that requested. By now there was not enough space for us to play badminton and it was getting late. We decided to call it a day and went back home but as I glanced back, there were still kids in the playground playing on their own and without any parents by their side.

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