Playground Parkour, Grit & St. Patty’s Day

Boulder is home to the now disputed World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Apparently there is a parade out there that is even shorter than one-and-a-half blocks.

Who knew?

It’s about the right size for me so I walked down to the mall to take in the majesty.

It has been another strange on/off weather week. We take full advantage of the on days to enjoy the warm weather and sun.

The boys like to hang out at the school yard after classes get out and, more importantly, after the yard monitor (aka wet blanket) leaves.


I understand that it’s her job to make sure that no one gets hurt and decides to sue the school (which is a really lame thing to do, BTW) but it means that kids are given a very narrow and proscribed way of playing on the equipment. I believe it creates children that are overly risk-averse.

My guys like to do normal kid stuff: jump off the jungle gym, jump off the swing, jump off the monkey bars. In other words, they like to do what most kids have liked to do since the beginning of time.

Only when I had a swing jumping contest, we always deposited a pile of dog poop near the landing area to up the stakes.

Magnificent air!

Magnificent air!

Jacob (aka the guy who crashed my pole and got stitched up on Wu’s floor) is the coolest dad ever. He plays with his kids the way kids should be played with. Physically and with great enthusiasm.



When his second grader gets out of class, his son runs at him at full speed and bowls him over. Every time.

That’s my kind of kid. You must jump on the people you love.

We hung out with Jacob and his kids on the playground.

My boys love having a grown-up around that will not only watch all their tricks, but will participate as well. It’s why they love taking Parkour classes so much.

Scrotus executes a cat-like leap.

Scrotus executes a cat-like leap.

And Jacob decides to give it a whirl.


We’ve suffered one major injury but ironically it happened while Scrotus was running on the ground.

I once heard that you should never trust someone who doesn’t have a facial scar of some sort. It means they led a sheltered childhood.

I agree. I sported a pretty odd scar right where my nostril intersects with my face. You can’t see it anymore, but when I was a kid it was pretty obvious.

It's pretty small now and just looks like a zit in this picture, but I swear it was very obvious when I was young.

It’s pretty small now and just looks like a zit in this picture, but I swear it was very obvious when I was young.

I remember being in pre-school and running into the corner of the wall. Not a great story but at least I have made the cut, so to speak. I most definitely was not a sheltered child.

All this comes at a time when school systems are talking about grit. As in how to instill grit into a child, via the classroom. Listen to the story here.

I guess we’re raising a bunch of risk-averse pussies who are too afraid to do anything, including achieve because maybe they will fail.

You should see report cards these days. I can’t understand them. There is no A, B, C, it’s now E, G, S, N, and 1, 2, 3, 4 and (the most cryptic) + x – /

Each scale delicately worded to make sure no one feels bad.


Does this make sense to you?

But the only result is that I have a hard time deciphering the five pages of hieroglyphics to get the bottom line. Is my child doing well?

I feel sorry for the teachers and the amount of time they must spent putting together these behemoth documents. Then there is the parent/teacher conference nonsense.

Call me a lazy parent, because I kind of am. I just want to glance at the report card and know if we’re good or not. These days reading a report card requires a glass of wine and a flow-chart.


Photo fromTovia Smith/NPR

Oh the irony.

Kids aren’t allowed to participate in PE unless they have the right shoes (they might trip), can’t swing too high on the swing set (they might fall), can’t eat nuts/wheat/dairy/eggs because someone else might be allergic, can’t walk to school by themselves, can’t run on the playground, can’t even stand in line for lunch (because some kids get free hot lunch and may feel stigmatized).

Can’t, can’t, can’t.

But in the classroom they should be willing to take risks.

The only way to learn grit is to get knocked down and then stand back up. What better place to learn than the playground where the ground is soft?

Maybe one day our genius bureaucrats will connect the dots.

11 thoughts on “Playground Parkour, Grit & St. Patty’s Day

  1. Yes, yes and YES! And as the kids get older, the stakes get higher (i.e. exposure to really risky behaviors, etc). If they don’t know where/how to draw the line with risk, they will be horribly unprepared for REAL risk later. It’s why I make my teens ride the public bus and hang out at skate parks without me hovering. They can and do make good decisions (so far) every time.

    • And to the best of our knowledge, Airhorn Kid is still alive! But seriously, kids need to learn how to look around their environment and noticed where the risks are. Both in the literal sense of the playground and then later in the less tangible sense of relationships, drugs, fast cars and poor decisions.

  2. I have a perfect Elvis lip curl from face smashing into a door while racing a friend down a hallway. Ripped lip and 20+ stitches! I agree with you about letting kids play. I was always the tough love nanny/teacher. Plenty of loves for actual hurts, otherwise just rub some dirt on it and get back out there ;-P

  3. I remember when I was dating Gary he told me he had never had stitches and had never broken anything……WTH I love that my hubby and I have soooo many stories about various scars and breaks, and all of the…….. “Well we both know you need stitches(My mom speaking)but we will just use a butterfly bandage.” I did not know that people actually went to the doctor to get their stitches out until I was a teenager. I had never heard of such a thing 🙂

  4. I got hit by a car recently. Unfortunately, the scar on my forehead from landing on my face is probably gonna go away. 😕

    • Getting creamed by a car falls well outside the realm of playground accidents, but I’m glad you survived and I’m sure you are ruggedly handsome with your forehead scar!

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