WHITNEY: Taking notes on playground parlance

I’ve been taking notes on children.

That’s right. While kids are laughing it up at the playground, I’m laughing on the inside (and sometimes outwardly, too) as they taunt and tease each other in the way all kids do when they play. 

See, when I’m at the playground, I’m usually there as a party of two, and my play date can’t really hold much of a conversation yet. Sure, while she’s digging in the sand or swinging on a swing, she’s blabbing away with a few actual, discernible words sprinkled here and there throughout her lecture. Lately, our chats have been inspired by some weekends on the lake and we’ve been talking a lot about boats and docks and waters and the time she helped give my parents’ “stinky” dog “Gotgun” a bath. 

Endearing as these conversations with my own offspring might be, I can’t help but overhear all the kids around me as they shout at each other in the midst of their games of tag or as they talk calmly on the swings beside us.

Sometimes they’re sweet. I overheard one girl giving a pep talk when her friend confided that she hadn’t seen her dad in a while. Sometimes they’re salty, like the apparent competition I witnessed between two boys, each about 8 years old and determined to out-swear the other. 

All of it is hilarious. Like I said, I’ve been taking notes on the best things I’ve heard. Here’s some of the best quotes I’ve collected, all while sitting at a local park.

  • “Yes, he did tag you. You’re it. Now get over it.”
  • “I just blinded you for life, so you’re welcome ‘cus now you can’t do math.”
  • “I’m not from here. I’m from Ypsi.”
  • “It’s kind of against the rules to touch the sand. I myself would allow it, but it was a rule decided by the group.”
  • “Where are you from?” “From hell.”
  • “Your dad can kiss my...”

Well, it gets a little obscene from there on, and I haven’t even taken notes on the no-good, rabble-rousing teenz hanging out on the periphery. Those kids? They’re the ones from whom I could learn a thing or two about vocabulary and current culture!

Little kids, though, they’re the ones you wanna listen to if you’re hanging out at the park. They’re remarkable. They’re so honest, and at the same time, they’re entrenched in worlds of their own creation. 

If a little boy arrives at the park after a day of fighting dragons, you can be sure he’s going to announce his knighthood to anyone within earshot. 

If someone is being kind of a jerk while playing freeze tag, someone else is bound to call them out because, unlike adults, kids haven’t honed their ability to abide other people’s BS. 

Imagination is reality, and reality is there to be called on the carpet. Things are exactly as kids decide them to be at the playground, and there’s no other place in the world where they have that control over how their world looks. It’s utopian if you think about it. Can we go back?