This Used to Be Their Playground

One of my favorite parts of being a parent (and one of my favorite things as a child) is going to the playground with my son, Mikey. Hearing his laughter and seeing the smile on his face as he would come down the sliding board or as I pushed him on the swing are a couple of my favorite experiences with him.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the social distancing/lockdown that has come with it, has forced playgrounds to close. This unwelcome change for my son and for other children is sad, but necessary. But a playground without the sights and sound of children at play is not a playground.

For the children who normally fill this space with joy, and for the parents and grandparents who normally would sit and watch those children, this used to be their playground. I join them in hoping it will soon fulfill the true definition of that word.

Children of all ages normally fill this place of fun and relaxation with laughter and the sounds of joyful play. Now the playground is quiet and deserted. It’s no longer a place for playing.

The basketball court is usually full of intense competition and vertical acrobatics. Now it’s a locked-down, barren place where players no longer fly through the air. Play is grounded.

These steps to fun are blocked by a wooden fence and a sign that most of the children probably can’t read. To them, it only says, “You cannot play!”

Police tape and a makeshift wooden barricade now block the climb to play and fun.

The clubhouse is now closed…to all.

The chainlink fence that usually keeps the basketballs in, now keeps everything out. The torn, dangling net seems fitting as it awaits replacement at a future, still unknown time.

If birds are meant to fly, swings are meant to swing. Here, their welcoming curves sit still. If they’re lucky, a strong wind will give them a brief ride into normalcy.

Baby swings, that usually give young children their first feelings of the thrill of soaring through the air, are now tied still…unable to slip their bondage.

NOTE: This was originally created as a final project submission for a recent photography class. The photos were taken in April of 2020 when we were in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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