Seesaws are rapidly becoming a plaything of the past.
As the father of a 2-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:
“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 seesaws. 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 1970s 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 my child so no harm could come to him. 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.
Mark Spellun writes the blog Natural Dad, where a version of this first appeared. Photo: Joe Shlabotnik, See-Saw via photopin (license)
Chuck Habing says
Hello City Dads Group,
I do not live in NY and my kids are grown now but I liked your article on the missing see saws. I grew up with them too and the merry go round. I loved them. There were safety issues for sure but even as kids we learned how to have fun and minimize the risks. I would not ride on either of them with older kids that I did not know and learned how to best ride them for better fun and safety. With the see saws, I learned the value of the handle bars and that it is not safe to trying to ride them while standing on the seat.
Your article is helping me with my company, Habeco, LLC as we have the Bouncing Teeter Totter which is safer than a traditional teeter totter or see saw. It is a single seat teeter totter so the child is pretty well in control of their own safety. They are not dependent upon another child for their safety or riding pleasure.
Thanks again for the article.
Kevin McKeever says
Hi, Chuck: Glad you found us. If Habeco every wants to bounce ideas (ha) off our dads for toy ideas, give us a shout. And know we have City Dads Groups in 24 cities other than NYC. Look up the one nearest you and join in.