Transformational Playgrounds – The (ugly) REAL story

awardI usually write about the almost magical transformation of our natural playgrounds with pictures and words, everyone smiling and working hard. I love to show how a desolate or unloved playground with ripped-up hard surfaces and dying greenery is turned – almost magically – into a paradise for children. With miniature walkways, and magically created riverbeds for playing, logs for jumping off and pits for digging.

But today, let’s talk about blisters. Bruises. Bumps and backaches.

The ugly truth.

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The truth is, the magic is only imagined.

It’s fortunate, like childbirth, that all visions are inspired by people with short memories. Like giving birth it is so easy to forget the pain. It’s easy to forget the work party when no one shows up. It’s easy to forget the times when 8 hours of work took 2 days and 3 items on the list of 10 were completed.

Today, I want to thank those who come to the work parties. To family members who give up their weekends to help their mom. To my husband who gives up yet another day off for his wife’s vision. For volunteer teachers and directors who sacrifice their time off, time with their families for my vision and ultimately for the children not yet enrolled, perhaps not yet born.

Here’s a little of what inspired this more honest blog.

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day.

Nancy (volunteer director) and I are off to build the new entryway to the not yet licensed center.

After loading the pick up truck with furniture yet to be transferred from our garages, using our one mid-week holiday-off to do this (and a list of 9 other items to be accomplished) we are stopped one block from our intended drop off (the new center) by the Veteran’s Day parade. Police and Fire barricades, families are lining up with miniature American flags. Woo Hoo!!!!

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It would be a great time to hand out brochures for the new center. (Oh no! I don’t have brochures yet.)

But….we can’t get in. Never fear, we’ll take the back way. Nope. No entry. Totally blocked.

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PLAN B.

Go to the local Home Depot and buy what we need for our entryway planter. The one that will become a part of our Parent Courtyard where playdates are made and families are greeted, where ideas are exchanged and confidences restored. So much energy goes into the entrance of our facility, the feelings that parents will feel when they enter the first time and every time to drop off and pick up their precious child…

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Now, mind you, this planter is made with cinder blocks. We only need 30.

 

We take our time and shop for all of our painting needs and take our time selecting masonry paint in bright, trending colors and all of the paraphernalia to go with this project and the 8 other projects on our list.

(By the way, good work Mario from Home Depot.) He looked at our cart and was pretty great at guessing our projects. He even nailed the ideas as pinterest inspired. (Give credit where it’s due.)

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Tick tock.

The parade still blocks our entrance.

GO TO LUNCH.

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On a full stomach, having ditched our diets we make it back to Home Depot, purchase our 30 bricks. And wait. And wait. And wait for the promise of a fork lift and workers to load these bricks into our truck. After all, we will be unloading and lifting all day. This will save us some sore muscles. Tick tock. Finally, we decide that time is limited…we’ll load the bricks ourselves. After we load 18 of the 30 bricks…beep beep beep….here comes the fork lift. Oh no! There are not enough cinderblocks for the order ahead of ours and NOT ours. And we’ve already LOADED half our order.

The short story is, we gave the guys ahead of us the bricks. Hey, they work construction. We’re making up our project. We’re preschool teachers. The one thing we are good at is CHANGE!

We got a discount. A big discount. And they loaded our new bricks. But we still have to off load. Alone. No Home Depot help for that, huh?

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Tick tock. The parade is over and our 4 hour project has 2 hours of daylight left.

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Masonry paint? Doesn’t wash off.

Advice? Use gloves and if you don’t, buy Goo Gone.

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Did the project work? Of course.

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Our super hero capes are being cleaned, but let’s face it WE’RE PRESCHOOL DIRECTORS!

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Of Course it worked! Do we have sore backs, blisters and bruises? Maybe.

But just like child birth, we won’t remember any of this, soon enough…as the magic of Transformational Playgrounds erases all the sweat, the abrasions and evn the irritations. We didn’t have time to load the dirt and plant the greenery. But we will.

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It will all eventually get done.

It will be licensed.

It will be enrolled.

It will be successful.

It will greet parents and children hello and goodbye.

Transformations happen without smoke and mirrors, but with

bumps,

bruises,

and a few sore muscles.

 

 

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Meet Julie

Julie Jenkins devoted 30+ years to up leveling the way adults teach children about behavior. She put her philosophy into print in 2004 in Enlightened Discipline.

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