Fill the Parks

There are two things that really frustrate me — and they are related.

First, the couches in my house have permanent dents from the backsides of my kids.

“Go outside and do something,” I say, echoing the words from the mouths of my parents when I was a kid. Of course the same resistance exists now as it did then, but when I say, “Just go and find someone out there to do something with,” it isn’t the same as it was when I was their age.

Is it?

Or am I just one of those “back in my day” pseudo-seniors I hated as a kid?

That brings me to my other frustration. There are a ton of great parks out there, and they are constantly EMPTY.

All that space, all that investment, all going to waste.

As I was growing up, my parents would kick me out of the house and there would be someone else out there (many someones) whose parents had done the same thing.

So what’s changed? Are there no kids around any more, other than mine? I don’t think that’s it. After all, the schools seem to find them.

Are there more programmed activities for kids that are so much better? Are we too afraid to send our kids to the park? Maybe, but the solution to that problem is to send more kids to the park, isn’t it? There’s safety in numbers, and so much more.

Community, for example.

I knew every kid up and down my block, and for a large radius around that block. It didn’t matter if they were a little older or a little younger, from a different school or even home-schooled. My kids don’t seem to know the kids across the street even though they walk the same paths to school.

I guess the current solution is to send them out to [insert whatever sports program you choose here] so they can learn how to play something.

But then what will ever happen to the makeshift games organized by youth — with no left field or 3rd base because of the fence, or separate rules for the younger kids? Remember the imagination that went into those games?

Sure, there were times I would sit on the curbside with my best friend Craig talking about what jerks my parents were for kicking me outside ’cause there was nobody around. But there was one, and before long another would be around, then another kid.

Soon a game of who-can-slow-ride-their-bike-the-longest-and-get-to-the-finish-line-last-without-touching-the-ground would start up.

Maybe I’m just getting nostalgic in my pseudo-senior years — pining for the good old days. But I’ve heard it from others, as well.

I guess there are two options that will alleviate my frustrations a little. Either we can all decide to get our kids off the couches and send them outside to the parks around our city, or we can look to solve another problem: the housing shortage.

We can surely infill those unused parks with some affordable housing projects. I may still have those dents in my couch, but at least I won’t have to look at the empty parks any more.

I say fill them with kids or Infill them.

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