“It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his talents and capacities.”— Eric Hoffer
It was a beautiful sunny winter afternoon. I strapped my four-year-old son into his stroller and wheeled him into the elevator down to the ground floor of our modern apartment building in the 16th arrondissement.
We stepped out into the brisk cool air and strolled along the cobblestone streets lined with outdoor cafes, boulangeries, and patisseries directly below us.
Our destination was a charming little park with a playground about ten minutes away. Paris has a plethora of small parks in every neighborhood, so you never get the feeling of being trapped in an urban jungle.
My son was all bundled up in a parka jacket and a beanie. Additionally, he was wearing a wool scarf around his neck. France tends to have moderately mild winters, so we did not need to wear anything heavier.
We had the luxury of having the park entirely to ourselves that afternoon. I unpacked our crispy Swiss and tomato French baguettes from the local boulangerie and our Vittel bottled water.
We enjoyed our lunch picnic-style on the bench, watching the people passing by. It was an excellent way to take time out from the city and simply sit and reflect. Remember, this was before the invention of smartphones, so we always had plenty of time on our hands.
After lunch, I plunked down on a bench, hoping to catch up on the latest suspense thriller, while my adventurous little guy happily entertained himself on the jungle gym equipment nearby.
From time to time, I would glance up from my reading to make sure he was doing all right. We had been at the park for only about twenty minutes when I saw him struggling to free himself from his scarf, which had gotten caught on the playground equipment.
I jumped to my feet, raced up the steps to the top of the playground equipment, and hastily untied the scarf from the equipment. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured.
Later on, I would learn that children were not allowed to wear scarves in French schools due to the danger they impose on playground equipment. There was no such rule in the States at the time.
The lesson to be learned here is that children’s clothing can get caught on playground equipment or in doors.
For this reason, young school-age children should avoid wearing clothing with drawstrings at the neck, such as scarves, hoodies with strings, and mittens with strings. Instead, children should wear neck warmers and mitten clips.
Being is a parent is so challenging, as there is always so much to take into account when raising our children. Fortunately, there are many things we can control.