Today I took both my children to a protest in our local park about a decision to rip out the equipment. Old and damaged I hear you ask? The land being heartlessly sold off to make a few pounds for the council? Nope and nope.
The play equipment is too noisy for a handful of residents who live nearby.
Not noise from loud teenagers or attracting late night drunken shouting, but the noise of toddlers and young children on swings, going down slides and stepping on large rocks. I know. Pretty messed up right. You have to be a certain level of evil to hate children playing. Especially when you MOVED NEXT TO A PUBLIC PARK.
It’s an utter joke.
If you don’t know the details, I won’t bore you with the discussions, online rants, council meeting debates or absolute dismay that has surrounded the issue. Sadly the handful of residents ended up getting most of the town councillors to agree to remove the equipment, which was put in two years ago at a cost of £75K. To move it it’s another £60k.
It’s digusting. It at times made me lose faith in humanity. Seriously how can the laughter and gorgeous sounds of children playing make people feel such hate?
My son running to the park in excitement a few weeks ago
Parks are absolute essentials for families. There is pretty much nothing better than a park trip. For any doubters who aren’t familiar with just how bloody brilliant a park is:
- They are a sanity break when you’re close to losing your shit at home because the kids are going feral inside those familiar four walls again. “I know kids – let’s go down to the park.” YES.
- They’re free. A trip to the zoo is currently about £80 and that’s just for entry. Picnic + park = day sorted.
- It’s a perfect playdate. House a shit tip again? No one really wants to have every single toy chucked across the lounge floor? Park it is then. Meet up sorted. I’ve even been known to take a flask while we all go in snowgear.
- It’s absolutely vital exercise. See Change4Life PR person – I’m ticking that box. Today on the protest my children ran around and enjoyed the equipment FOR THREE HOURS.
- Fresh air. Parent or child, there ain’t nothing better than a good old dose of it. Whether it’s warm or wintery it’s always the best tonic…ermm well the best tonic is actually with gin once they’re in bed, but you know what I mean.
- They’re an outside classroom. Trees, nature, physical and social development all happen here. Learning how to share, learning how to behave, seeing nature, understanding boundaries – it’s all happening right here on your modest park trip.
- And to add to that – meeting friends is important for everyone. A whole day without talking to another adult can result in me quivering in a corner by the time Mr MotherFudger walks through the door. I’ve had some of my best parenting chats with strangers on a park trip and in fact one of my fabulous mum friends (and one of the kids’ friends) was met just by an impromptu chat here.
- They’re ace for the local economy. Been to the park – let’s pop into town. Money spent. Economy keeps turning. Win Win.
I could go on.
So yeah, to say I’m a fan is an understatement. So far this summer holiday I’ve visited the park on no less than 9 occasions. And I work. And we’ve been away.
I felt super strongly that the children should know the reason we were going to the park today.
My daughter was on the verge of tears. She said the councillors were ‘meanies’. She said how much she loved the park. She said she didn’t want them to take the equipment away. She didn’t understand. I said neither did I. She got how fucking furious everyone in my community feels about it and she joined the fight.
Because a park isn’t just a park – it’s a family hub, it’s a meeting place, it’s a break, it’s a space for the next generation, it’s a whole lot of perfect when you’re a parent and for anyone that doesn’t get that they just haven’t been to one and watched the children and heard their ‘noise’ to realise just how important they are.
And as for my faith in humanity – it’s been partially restored just by the strength of feeling a bunch of angry mums, dads, grandparents, residents, and people who love a community and wanted to show just how much something means for the benefit of all.