When my parents built their house, they were quite young and couldn’t afford to furnish a few rooms for few years, let alone landscape the backyard. However, with two small children (at the time), they were sure to add a jungle gym and sandbox in the side yard where my brother and I could play outdoors with friends and our cousins.
The jungle gym was old school 80s. It had monkey bars, a couple of swings, a really cool and tall slide, rings, and a trapeze bar. When it was installed, we all placed our hands in the cement footings to mark the occasion.
It was special to us all.
It was also a treacherous mo fo.
- The jungle gym was aluminum and often felt like you were touching the surface of the sun when you ran outside to play in the heat of the summer.
- The dang trapeze bar had hooks on the side that often pinched the ever-loving skin of your hands until you got blood blisters.
- When swinging all the way to the sky, the whole contraption would rock back and forth until a mom or baby sitter yelled bloody murder out of the window to stop pumping so hard!
- Because I’ve always been super smart, my cousin and I found some pvc pipe and turned it into a trumpet…while sliding down the slide. That was fine with the exception that it was longer than we were. So it hit the ground first, jamming into the back of my throat. It’s a freaking miracle that I still have my punching bag. There was SOOOOO much blood.
But the worst, THE WORST, jungle gym of death moment was when I thought I was finally tall enough to reach the monkey bars. There were two ladder rungs on one side and probably around the age of 7, I was just barely able to reach the bars from the top rung.
It’s been nearly 30 years, but I can remember this moment with painful clarity.
I was hesitant about reaching up to grasp the first bar. Letting go of the side, making the big reach, and swinging out into thin air took guts and determination.
As I reached with one hand and released the other from the side, my stabilizing force gone, I hesitated.
Hands flailing as I knew I wouldn’t make it, I could either go forward and fall face first into the sand or backward and knock the wind out of myself. The wheels were spinning in my little head.
But there was a third option that I hadn’t considered: falling straight down, my legs on either side of the rung.
I hit hard and fast, my little cooter taking the brunt of my full body weight, before completely falling to the ground.
My screams split the air (not unlike my poor va-jage) and my mom raced outside. She may have been watching through the kitchen window or her motherly intuition caused her to act fast.
She ran me into the house and threw me into a hot bath to sooth my broken hooha, while making yet, another SOS phone call to a nurse friend.
After ascertaining that no permanent damage had occurred, she gave me ice cream…the childhood cure for all ailments. She told me I never had to play on the jungle gym of death again.
Time passed and my delicate flower healed.
The jungle gym rusted and became dilapidated. My parents had new plans for the side yard – it was time for the jungle gym of death to come down.
And wouldn’t you know it…that rung was bent nearly in two for all of those years, a reminder of it’s first victim and her poor poor cooter.