Growing Up, Still Playing

Climbing trees

I can credit three things for inspiring me to start The Risky Kids a little over 2 years ago.

The first was my discovery of Gever Tulley’s book, 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do). I knew I couldn’t sustain an entire blog solely on one book, but I sensed it could be a foundation for something bigger. I could see that it was about more than a book. It was about seeing the bigger picture – realizing that the interactions we have with kids and the messages we send about fear and danger have the power to radically impact the next generation.

The second was the work I did with KaBOOM! for the Park-a-Day Challenge. Visiting different playgrounds for an entire summer opened my eyes to growing issues in the state of play. Do all kids have access to safe places to play? What effects do cookie-cutter playgrounds have on safety and the way kids actually play? How does one navigate the politics of the playground when they realize they parent quite differently from everyone else? Again, I knew I didn’t want to start a blog strictly about playgrounds, but the experience was a springboard to writing about where and how kids play today.

The biggest inspiration all along has been Elena and Eli. As much as I write The Risky Kids for you, I also do it to be a better parent to them. I believe in the importance of play, but so often the grind of life with littles can get the best of anyone. Before you know it, days or even weeks have gone by without breathing, without taking the time to truly connect with each other, with our kids, with the outdoors. Knowing that so many of you check in frequently to see what we’re up to holds me accountable, reminds me to keep a balance between work and play.

Why the sudden reflection on the humble beginnings of The Risky Kids? Well, last week I found myself in a déjà vu moment with two of the three things that inspired it all. We paid a visit to Holliday Park in Indianapolis, one of the best parks our city has to offer. We first discovered it while making the rounds for KaBOOM! We hadn’t been there in a long time, and thanks to a light drizzle, we had the entire playground to ourselves. We weren’t there five minutes before I heard Elena calling me from above. She’d found a good climbing tree and didn’t waste any time scampering up the branches. Only it wasn’t just any tree … it was this very tree, where I snapped a shot that became the face of The Risky Kids:

The Risky Kids

Two years later, just like this blog, she looks a little different. She’s grown a lot. She’s tried a lot of things. Some things worked, some things didn’t. She’s still trying to figure out exactly who she is and what she wants to be. The same can be said for myself and The Risky Kids. But just like Elena, I know that no matter how much you grow and change, you must always make time to play.

Holliday Park Indianapolis

Thanks for playing along with us. Here’s to many more years of tree climbing and playground shenanigans.