Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School got a new playground this summer. If you’re the parent of a young child, this is probably old news. I myself have taken my four daughters to what we call “The New Kidspace” on a weekly basis for the past month; they play on the playground while I gaze longingly at the school building and count the days until vacation ends.
The new playground is a welcome update. The “Old Kidspace” was erected back when I was in elementary school, when the height of technology was using Logo to move a pixelated turtle in a square on your computer screen. It was a splinter factory, constructed of wood and tires and heavy chains. If that sounds medieval, it was.
The New Kidspace is built mostly of plastic, which probably isn’t really plastic, but some sort of recycled composite material. It features two three-story tall towers, a series of ramps and walkways, multiple climbing walls, slides both twisty and straight, and ladders that rise perpendicular or twist around like double helixes.
After our first outing to the new playground, I asked my oldest daughter — who attended kindergarten at the Mary Hogan School last year and had daily experience with “The Old Kidspace” — to rate her experience.
“Is it better than the old playground?” I inquired.
“No,” she answered.
“Is it worse?” I asked, alarmed that my tax dollars may have been misspent.
“No,” she replied, “It’s just different.”
The next day, she was begging to return to the new playground.
And that, of course, is the essence of what it is to be a kid: Everything elicits awe and excitement. The new playground and the old playground are equally worthy, equally fun.
So my children, all four of them, give the new playground high marks. And me?